The next episode of the Future Ear Podcast features Anna Pugh, longtime audiologist, council member of the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists (BSHAA), and owner of Hearing Therapy Online. I came across Anna through a separate podcast (Inside Voice) where I heard her interviewed, and was blown away with her understanding of the changing landscape of hearing aid technology and how it will ultimately impact the patient experience. I wasn’t the only one who thought her cameo on the Inside Voice podcast was great, as she recently won the award for, “favorite episode of all time,” across 100+ episodes.
Our conversation spans a whole host of topics, including the state of the hearing care landscape in the UK, why hearing aid adoption rates are similar in the UK as the US (even though hearing aids are free in the UK through the NHS), and how the mass proliferation of consumer hearables (i.e. AirPods) is adding a new dynamic in the effort to kill the stigmatization that tends to surround hearing aids.
The bulk of the conversation centers around the, “Audiology Long Game,” which is the idea that hearing care providers are going to need to re-position their business models to become more service-oriented, particularly as the devices become more commoditized and less profitable. As the market of options for folks to treat their hearing loss grows to include more online, automated and big box options (which will all likely be lower cost for the consumer), it creates more complexity for the consumer’s buying decision and therefore, it also generates more demand for expertise.
Hearing care professionals, with their years of education and experience, own an asset that’s defensible and tough to replicate, which is their knowledge and expertise. As we discuss, the providers that thrive in the, “Audiology Long Game” will likely be those who leverage their expertise most effectively to differentiate against traditional and new competitors via exceptional expertise and service. Without the emphasis on the knowledgeable and exceptional service, providers will be left with no clear point of differentiation in the face of all the new avenues becoming available to patients, that will almost surely be positioned as lower-cost options to the traditional provider-based avenue.
This was a really great conversation that builds on some of the topics that Geoff Cooling, of Hearing Aid Know, and I discussed back in episode six of the podcast. As we venture into the 2020’s and over-the-counter hearing aids become widely available and more consumer hearables wade into the hearing amplification waters, it’s going to be critical for hearing care providers to identify new ways to stand out from all the new competition. The most obvious area where they can stand out would seem to be by leveraging their hard-earned education and expertise.
-Thanks for Reading-