In Australia you have a choice of different types of hearing aid providers. There are big Corporate type providers such as; SpecSavers Audiology, Hearing Savers, Australian Hearing, National Hearing, Hearing Life & Audio Clinic in Australia. There are smaller independent providers like us at Harmony Hearing that strive to that provide more choice and personalised care. Let’s talk about some more of the differences in this article.
Corporate Hearing Aid Providers
Can offer good service including aftercare, although operate a bit like a production line. I worked for a large corporate company which has over 100 branches across Australia for several years. I have to say they were very good in terms of staff training and commitment to client care. Clinician performance was measured on units of hearing aid sales.
Most corporate hearing aid providers are owned by the manufacturers. This means they will sell you hearing aids from that manufacturer. For instance AudioClinc and Western Hearing Services are owned by the Oticon Brand (William & Demant in Denmark). This type of vertical integration is increasing within the industry. With more and more manufacturers buying retail outlets so as to secure their supply chain. Corporate providers are built on this system where there is always some pressure on staff to sell one product line. This is understandably how they survive.
Your Choice is Limited to One Brand
This limits your choice as you are simply getting one brand. It doesn’t necessarily mean the brand or device you are prescribed won’t be suitable. It just means there is no real choice on offer. You are unlikely to be educated on the options from a range of leading manufacturers. I believe it’s best to make an educated decision on information derived from the least biased sources possible.
It would be fair to make clear a provider arrangement up front. In fact within the last year the Office of Hearing Services (OHS) that coordinates the Commonwealth Hearing Services Program passed legislature that made it mandatory to disclose to Voucher holders the preferred provider relationship. However, there is no regulation that this information is disclosed to self funding clients.
In summary whilst the corporates try to ensure quality service and experience on offer across their chains. It is not always the case.
Rise of Independent Hearing Aid Providers
Independent providers are Independent of any hearing aid manufacturer or corporate entity. They are typically smaller family run businesses. Some may have several branches. They may also offer visiting sites for their services which can be located at health partners. These include medical centres or leasable offices.
Independents typically have access to all the hearing aid brands. However to be proficient they tend to focus on three to four leading brands. There may be a number of reasons they have a preference for several brands. This can include the commercial perspective of price, but also clinical considerations such as specialisation and positive client outcomes.
In running our independent practice we have chosen to mainly provide: Oticon, Phonak, Signia (previously Siemens) and GN Resound products. This is because they are able to supply me with everything I need to meet the needs of my clients. Phonak is renown as a leader in power hearing aids. I would always consider Phonak for my power user needs.
Hearing Aids for Music Enjoyment
I would consider GN Resounds new Linx Quattro for musicians wanting excellent dynamic range for music enjoyment and preservation.
Hearing Aids for the Socially Active
For socially active individuals that are often in dynamic and unpredictable communication environments, I would recommend the Oticon Opn. It’s Open Sound Navigator Lx platform that preserves the speech streams coming from multiple directions. It also attenuates background noise between speech sounds. This enables the user to easily switch attention when desired and reduces listening effort. If you are an Apple iPhone user this is an excellent choice. As it also enables high definition Audio streaming through a 3.4GHz radio signal. Oticon Opn ‘twin link’ uses a separate broadband bluetooth signal. This enables outstanding binaural processing of sound between the instruments in real time. The hearing aids operate as a wireless pair synchronising many of their modes of operation. This includes the coordination of multi-band adaptive directional microphones.
For an android phone user, I would recommend the new Phonak Marvel for its quality audio streaming. Its ability to connect any phone (whether Android or Apple iOS). Also for its improved natural sound quality for first time hearing aid users. There can be a need for narrow microphone directionality or “beamforming microphone” directionality. This is when background noise escalates and there’s a poor signal to noise ratio.
StereoZoom Beam-forming Microphones
Phonak call this feature Stereo Zoom. It can help you comfortably follow conversation of people opposite you even in high noise environments. In the premium models Marvel M90 or Belong B90 it activates automatically. It is the Autosense mode; Speech in Loud Noise. You can read the whitepaper about Phonak’s Stereo Zoom at the following link: https://www.phonakpro.com/content/dam/phonakpro/gc_hq/en/resources/evidence/field_studies/documents/fsn_phonak_stereozoom_adaptive_behaviour.pdf
Signia Silk Hearing Aids
For clients wanting completely invisible hearing aids (IIC), the Signia Silk fit ideal. It is comfortable and instant fitting. It requires the correct sizes of “click” sleeve or dome. Signia’s latest chip platform offers great performance in noise. You can easily adjust volume and programs using the Touch Control App. Instead of bluetooth it uses ultra high frequency sound to make the adjustments.
Starkey IIC Hearing Aids
For the most discrete deep canal fitting custom hearing aids, you can’t go past the Starkey Sound Lens. Starkey was one of the first companies to make invisible hearing aids (IIC). They have it down to a fine art.
Phonak Virto B Titanium
The Phonak Virto titanium is durable, discrete and completely in the canal (CIC). These can be made as a true invisible in the canal hearing aid (iic). They also integrate Phonaks Auto Sense modes.
Freedom to Match the Best Solution
Independence empowers your Clinician to match the most suitable solution to your needs from all the leading brands.
There is a real phase of adaptation or acclimatisation to new hearing aid amplification. We don’t always give people the full level of amplification straight away. We may increment you up as you acclimatise over a number of months.
Corporates a less likely to facilitate this need for adaptation and progressive coaching.
The Harmon Hearing Difference
As a family practice we are about building lifelong relationships with our clients and their loved ones. We practice patient centred care. For more information or to make an appointment Free Call 1800 02 04 06 or