Hearing aids seem to be getting smaller in size, but more expensive in price. Most hearing aids need replacing after 5-6 years, so it’s a cost which is likely to be ongoing throughout your life. Consumers are becoming savvier with price shopping and hearing aids certainly appear cheaper online than in Audiology clinics, so many people often wonder whether purchasing online is worth the savings. In this article, we will look at some pros and cons to purchasing online vs in-clinic, and other points to consider to help you make up your own mind.
If you are sure of exactly what you want, purchasing hearing aids online is easy –
select the device and accessories you like, buy on-line. Some retailers ask you to upload your audiogram and then send the pre-programmed devices directly to you with instructions and videos on how to use them. Tuning is often done remotely so you never have to set foot in a clinic! Other retailers book you in for a face-to-face appointment with an Audiologist to fit the hearing aids. You may then have a follow-up appointment, either face to face, over the phone or via video call with the Audiologist.
While purchasing online is straightforward, hearing loss, however, is not. Rehabilitating hearing loss is even more complex, and achieving better hearing is not just a matter of wearing a hearing aid. Two people with the same hearing levels on paper can have a completely different perception of speech and different hearing abilities in background noise, which means they will both achieve very different outcomes with the same hearing aid. Just ask any experienced Audiologist! This is truly where having a good rapport with your Audiologist, and having a good aftercare package is worth it in the long run. The cost you pay isn’t just for a product, it’s for the service also, which is often more important. Your Audiologist should provide you with personalised rehabilitation advice, realistic expectations from the start based on your individual hearing (fact: hearing aids won’t ever replace normal hearing), and communication advice and training.
There is another point to consider also – the hearing aid is truly only as good as the fitting. While hearing aid software is designed to calculate a default amount of volume to give you based on your audiogram, nothing beats having your Audiologist measure the hearing aid in your ear using speech. An in-clinic visit with an Audiologist is essential for this step (called real ear measures or REM) to take place. Even when this is performed you may still not be satisfied with the sound quality, and will therefore rely on your Audiologist’s expertise to question you and apply your feedback to adjust the hearing aids accordingly. This process can take a few appointments where changes are made then you need to try the hearing aids in the real world (as opposed to your Audiologist’s sound-proof office!) to assess.
If you do purchase hearing aids online and aren’t happy with them, sometimes it’s difficult to get a second opinion from a different Audiologist. Many clinics will not service hearing aids purchased privately elsewhere or will charge you a high fee to take you on as a client. In addition, if you purchase hearing aids from overseas, there is a good chance they won’t be able to be programmed in Australia.
In summary, while you can certainly purchase hearing aids cheaply online, it is important to consider the big picture. Thoroughly check the inclusions of the hearing aid package, and enquire about the cost of any future appointments or maintenance. Make sure there is an option to see an Audiologist face-to-face if you need to. The cost you pay shouldn’t just be about the hearing aids, make sure you allow for peace of mind. Having a good rapport with your local Audiologist is priceless! If you’re looking at getting a hearing test, head to an Attune clinic today and talk to a professional audiologist who can guide you in the right direction when buying a hearing aid. Contact Attune on 1300 010 064 or head to the website to book an appointment!