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047 – Dr. Kim Cavitt & Karl Strom – Where the Big Opportunities Lie for Hearing Professionals

The next episode of the Future Ear Radio podcast features two hearing care industry experts, Kim Cavitt and Karl Strom. Kim is a long time audiologist who has worked in nearly every facet of the hearing care industry and is the owner of of the consulting firm, Audiology Resources. Karl is one of the Founding Editors of the Hearing Review, one of the most widely read publications in the industry, and has been the Editor in Chief for more than 20 years.

Our conversation spans a wide range of audiology topics related to the changing dynamic of the industry that’s being ushered in by a handful of macro-level factors. There’s a lot of external pressures being exerted on today’s hearing professionals, from the slate of OTC devices set to debut soon and new consumer electronic hearables entering the market, to the increase in patients tied to third party administrators, to new patient expectations being ushered in by the pandemic.

The goal of this conversation was to think through what types of opportunities are being unlocked by all of these trends and explore how professionals can best position themselves to capitalize on them.

We begin by using Karl’s recent article, “Sound Quality as the Tipping Point for Younger, Milder Hearing Loss Market,” to talk through some of Karl’s key insights. As we discuss, today’s hearing devices are dramatically better from a sound quality standpoint than the flagship devices from even a decade ago, which is important to point out when considering the more mild-end of the hearing loss spectrum.

An affordable, natural sounding device, in conjunction with the increasing amount of things one can do with that device (i.e. dip in and out of the audio internet), provides for a type of solution that might finally resonate with the mild-market user. As Kim mentioned, you cannot expect any type of market penetration with this subset of the market if you’re trying to solve a (perceived) $500 problem with a $5,000 solution.

As a result, I think it’s likely we’ll see the total market begin to expand considerably, which, as Kim points out, is exactly what happened with prescription glasses when over-the-counter “cheater” glasses were introduced. This, therefore, provides an opportunity for professionals to service this end of the market and establish a relationship with the patient early.

In order for professionals to achieve profitability with the mild side of the market, they will need to figure out how to scale this offering, which brings us to Kim’s article, “Accessibility as an Opportunity.” The key insight that Kim shares here is that patients’ expectations are changing as to how and where they want to access services. Allowing for patients to communicate through online chat systems, text messaging, and social media, as well as accommodating for remote services, increases the accessibility to one’s services and value.

At the end of the day, the root of the hearing professionals’ value lies is expertise. Hard earned knowledge that can be applied and billed in a myriad of ways will be frustratingly hard for competitors to disrupt. The key, in my opinion, will be effectively packaging that expertise, succinctly communicating it to the market by leveraging the internet, and then making one’s expertise as easy to access as possible in order to scale it.

-Thanks for Reading-

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