Dr. Mel says- Digital Technology

My Grandson, who is now in our practice, pointed out to me the other day that the digital technology age has changed the world more than the invention of the printing press.

Digital technology has certainly changed , for the better, the way hearing enhancement products are manufactured and dispensed. Here is our take on the subject:

In about 1995 two Danish manufacturers, Widex and Oticon introduced digital hearing aids into the United States market with great fanfare and positive media exposure . Suddenly the underserved hearing impaired, technologically deprived patients began demanding this new innovative technology and our industry blossomed.

As a result , sales, prices and patient satisfaction increased and the manufacturers, hearing care professionals and last but not least the patients began benefitting from this new technology. Suddenly , hearing aid prices at the wholesale level increased substantially and prices to the consumers increased as well. The manufacturers became more profitable and began developing even better hearing aids and “economic Darwinism” left many of the smaller manufacturers unable to compete rendering analog hearing aids obsolete.

Unfortunately, ” corporate greed” kicked in about this time and the manufacturers began to buy up retail dispensing offices to exclusively dispense their products. This worked to the detriment of the independent hearing professional because it became very difficult to compete with the suppliers of hearing aids and have access to all of the latest technology so that the end user , the patient, could have access to all of t he latest technology available.

It’s been a challenge, but we at the Royal Palm hearing Aid Centers, have managed to stay autonomous and are one of the only fully independent hearing aid dispensing facilities in the area beholden to no one manufacturer and able to dispense and service all of the products available on the market .

So, with this. Information and coupled with our innovative ” try before you buy no obligation policy” please rest assured that you can avail yourself of our services and benefit from a totally unbiased evaluation of your hearing lifestyle needs in a totally relaxed no pressure environment at one of our convenient modern offices.

What is the best hearing aid

So many of my patients tend to ask me the same question:

“ What is the best hearing aid?”

The answer to that question is very complicated.

The simple answer is; there is no single “best” hearing aid. There is, however, a best choice for you, your lifestyle, and your specific hearing challenges. Every manufacturer— Siemens, Oticon, Resound, Widex, Phonak, and has great technology. Great technology is no longer the challenge.

Finding the right technology for each patient is where we come in. To define which one is right for an individual, we must consider many factors including, for example, ease of use and a patient’s dexterity. Will this person be able to easily change batteries? How much connectivity does that patient want with other devices such as phones or TVs? Most importantly, how much speech does this particular device clarify for that particular patient. Just as every person is different, so every hearing loss is also different. Every brain is different. Every patient’s sensory issues are different.

We match you with the best technology in the best device for your brain and your life. So, as you see, that’s more complicated than you might think. It’s also why we have stayed family owned and independent for 50 years in this industry. We love to get to know our patients and offer them all an improved quality of life.

We are eager to help, so we also offer a try-before-you-buy plan, and financing. We want to make it easy and painless. We work differently, and that’s why our patients keep coming back to us. This is a quality of life decision.

Make an appointment. Come see and, even better, hear for yourself!

Early Audiologists transition into new technology

Back in the sixties, when I went into private practice, most of the hearing aid manufacturers had exclusive dealers around the country to sell and service their products.  For the most part, there were no Audiologists selling hearing instruments at that time, due to our national certifying agency disallowing the selling of hearing aids and labeling it as “unethical.”

We early Audiologists had a very difficult time because the manufacturers were afraid to upset their existing dealer networks and were reluctant to sell us hearing aids. The purpose of this blog is to provide a historical overview of how the dispensing of hearing instruments has evolved over the years to where today people can benefit from wearable amplification that was only dreamed of in the early days of hearing aid dispensing.

In the sixties, Beltone and Zenith companies purveyed their hearing aids through exclusive dealers and probably comprised fifty per cent of the hearing aid sales in the United States. The rest of the market was divided up with various small companies all competing for the remainder of the sales. This was before the all-in-the-ear instruments that were introduced in the early seventies by Starkey, and many of my patients were fit with eyeglass instruments which were very much in vogue at the time.

Widex, Oticon and Siemens were making behind-the-ear hearing aids to compete with the American companies such as Qualitone, Audiotone, Radioear,Dahlberg, Acousticon,Electone and many others .

This was before hearing aid licensing and before the FDA began to monitor the industry.  Gradually, the industry started to change for the better as the manufacturers and dispensers became more proficient and conscientious about the patients they served, Audiologists, trained in the hearing sciences, began to enter the field as teachers and trainers to the traditional dealers, and finally, the instruments and dispensing models of the industry started to change for the betterment of the hearing impaired.

“Economic Darwinism” began to kick in and many of the smaller manufacturers fell by the wayside. About this time, some “big name” companies decided to enter the market place only to discover that the market was not lucrative enough to warrant their attention. Consequently, companies like 3M, Philips, Bosch and several others came in and then left the market.

Starkey initiated the early interest in the in-the-ear hearing aids and the other companies scrambled to catch up. In the early eighties, President Reagan was seen with a small in-the-ear hearing aid, which stimulated sales for several years. The hearing aids and the professionals dispensing them all improved, making it an exciting time in our industry.

(NEXT: digital hearing aids hit the market)