It dawned on me yesterday that the answer to this question is on a lot of people’s minds. I saw a client yesterday who I have known and have been working with for several years. She was ready to upgrade her old Siemens hearing aids which I fit on her about 5 years ago. Even though I have spent many hours with her, she was of the impression that I only used Siemens hearing aids and that if she wanted something else (like the ones she had been looking at online), that she would have to go to another company. I can see why people would think this because in so many other businesses (insurance, electronics, cars) you shop at different “dealers” to determine what different people have to offer.
Shopping for hearing aids is unique. It’s not like glasses frames where you might shop around until you find ones that you like and that are in the right price point. It’s much easier than that. What you are shopping for really, is the Audiologist. At Broadmead and Oak Bay hearing clinics, we are not owned by a hearing instrument manufacturer and therefore can use any hearing aid that has ever been made by any company that has ever made hearing aids. Really. It is not something we stock on shelves, so you can browse the selection. It is a custom device for very good reason. There are so many different factors that go into choosing the best hearing aid for someone (do we need excellent feedback management, do you want a remote control, do we need it to be simple, do we want multiple programs and controls, do we need frequency transposition, do we need directional microphones, how big (or small) is your ear canal, do you have sensitive skin, are you overly sensitive to loud noise, do you need a rechargeable battery, do you have tinnitus, will we require a tinnitus masker). This is actually a short list of some of the many considerations we make prior to choosing what hearing aid manufacturer to use. This is why I feel very strongly about independence in hearing aid clinics.
When you use an independent Audiologist such as with our clinic, you have some security in knowing that whatever company has the combination of features that you might require, this is the company that we choose to order from. I frequently use 6 or 7 different hearing aid manufacturers to satisfy all of the different needs that people have. The Audiologists here are constantly going to training seminars so that they are up to date on the very latest in technology from each of the companies. This is helpful because the hearing aid manufacturers often leap frog one and other with the products they release.
The last misconception I would like to address is price. People often think they are getting a better price if they go with a large corporate chain and equate it to the big box store mentality. Smaller independent clinics are not spending $500,000 in a single month on TV ads (as in the case of one of our competitors) so we can keep our costs lower than the big guys. The added benefit is that you are keeping your dollars in the community and supporting local families, rather than anonymous shareholders somewhere in Europe.
The final word is that at Broadmead and Oak Bay Hearing Clinics, we use every manufacturer for some reason or another. We want you to put your trust in your Audiologist and feel confident that she is up on what is best and that she will choose the hearing aid that fits your unique needs with no other influences that might muddy the water.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact us by phone or email and we'll be happy to help in any way we can.