How the cooperation between private practice and university pr… : The audio journal
Successful private practice owners recognize the need to offer more than just a device. Delivering a patient experience that cannot be replicated by any online, retail, or big-box provider is critical to today’s private practice. Delivering a hearing rehabilitation program is one way to add value to the patient experience. However, it is unlikely that you have the resources such as time, space and energy to implement them yourself.
We have found that a collaboration between a private practice and a university program is the answer. It turned out that combining an academic and research background with a patient-centric, service-centric, and business-centric background provided the framework, innovation, and resources that both employees benefited from.
Our goal in designing and implementing this program was to provide a community program for adult learners that also served as a teaching opportunity for graduate students. We have designed the materials to be accessible and reproducible for other university programs and private practice partnerships.
As a private practice owner, the recognition the program gave me as a hearing professional in the community led to extremely effective marketing. Participants were the most successful hearing aid wearers because: they were zealous and enthusiastic hearing health advocates based on the insights gained in our seminar; they had a solid understanding of what was expected of a device; they were eager and willing to implement the communication strategies taught; and they realized the importance of seeking help from an audiologist. Not only were they now part of the practice, but these participants also helped spread the word in the church. They couldn’t wait to share their new knowledge with others. This organic, enthusiastic and serious marketing resulted in qualified and educated referrals, all of whom were successful hearing aid wearers.
We, a private practice owner and a university assistant, designed and delivered a four-part seminar that met once a week for 90 minutes for four weeks. The participants were members of the university campus lifelong learning programme. The program was offered twice a year. We started this program with face-to-face classes before transitioning to an online format very effortlessly during the COVID-19 pandemic. We typically had 10 older participants in our seminar, and the classes were held in a large room in the Speech and Hearing Clinic on campus. A public address system and a large screen monitor were used to increase accessibility. After the lecture, master students of speech pathology conducted small breakout sessions on lip reading, clear speech, communication strategies and listening training. Our presentation topics included hearing loss, how we hear, audiogram interpretation, tinnitus, auditory training, psychosocial exercises, hearing aid expectations, ototoxicity, hearing aids, assistive technologies, smartphone apps, over-the-counter devices and choosing an audiologist. We also provided training on communication strategies with hearing loss and facilitated discussions that led to group dynamics and sharing of common experiences that were powerful for the students and participants.
Benefits for resident audiologists
This program established the private practice audiologist as an expert in hearing rehabilitation and differentiated the practice from others that only offered one device. The increased visibility led to new recommendations. These referrals were more likely to be satisfied and successful because they accepted the limitations of their devices. The seminar participants took responsibility for the implementation of communication strategies instead of blaming the audiologist or the hearing aids.
Benefits for a university program
Finding student experiences when exploring career interests or enrolling in courses is an ongoing process. The seminar provided a unique experience for the students to participate in and facilitate the sessions. Participants enjoyed hearing about the students’ studies and connecting them with other lifelong learners. The students applied what they had learned from their AR introductory course in individual and small group work. They had positive reviews of their experiences as the interactions gave them insight into how to interact with older adults with hearing loss.
A SUCCESSFUL COOPERATION
Together we considered the program a success. It met the needs of the participants, provided a hands-on training opportunity for students, and established the private practice owner as an expert in the community. This mutually beneficial collaboration resulted in highly qualified new private practice referrals and rich experience in creating and delivering content to students.
Offering hearing rehabilitation in a scalable format that was readily available and reproducible resulted in a benefit to the university students and organic marketing of the practice with participants who were zealous and enthusiastic advocates of the importance of hearing aids and understood the importance of regular use, Expectations, implementation of listening strategies and the importance of being evaluated by an audiologist. These participants spread the word in the community, especially among their friends and family, healthcare professionals, and primary care physicians. This organic, enthusiastic and serious marketing led to valuable and informed recommendations.