Vision Care & Hearing Health: A Natural Partnership

Vision Care & Hearing Health: A Natural Partnership

Stadelmaier Optik AG has been providing vision and hearing healthcare for more than 50 years. This family run business operates out of 2 locations in Switzerland. They are motivated by seeing how their exceptional products and services help to improve the quality of life for their clients.

Recently, Stadelmaier acquired SHOEBOX QuickTest from Beyond Medical Solutions AG (GMS). QuickTest is a simple, self-administered hearing screening test available on an iPad. They set the system up in their optical centers as a way of offering additional services to their clients. While they wait for their eye appointment, or for their glasses to be serviced or repaired, they can perform a quick assessment of their hearing health. The service offers added value for their customers, but it also helps Stadelmaier generate additional revenue for their hearing center.

In Switzerland, 1 in 10 people say they suffer some hearing loss. And less than 4 out of 10 of them use hearing aids even if they could benefit from them.[1] This is not an isolated problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 466 million people worldwide suffer disabling hearing loss. By 2050 that number is estimated to grow to 900 million.[2]

It has been well reported that the average person waits 7 to 10 years before deciding to do something about their hearing loss. When they do finally seek treatment, they will often say that the problem only started in the last few months. That is rarely the case. There are many reasons for the long delay. One not to be minimized is the stigma attached to wearing a hearing aid.  This often demands an acceptance that “I’m getting older”.  But hearing loss left untreated can have much more serious and long-lasting effects. There is even research connecting the dots between hearing loss and dementia.[3]

Given the magnitude of the problem, it is clear that the small number of hearing healthcare specialists cannot handle all the demand for their service. Partnerships with other healthcare providers can play a crucial role. For example, affiliated stores or clinics could help to identify and refer those in need of follow-up services. Stadelmaier Optik AG is a perfect example.

In addition to their two optical stores, Stadelmaier has a hearing center located on the second floor of the shop in Chur. The hearing center has two goals. First is to educate their optical customers about the problems of hearing loss. The second is to generate business for the hearing center from their existing optical clinic clients. To do this, Stadelmaier turned to BMS in June of 2018 looking for a solution that would allow them to offer hearing screening services in the optical clinic. BMS recommended SHOEBOX QuickTest.

QuickTest is a simple, self-administered hearing screening test that can be performed in under a minute. It offers a fast, effective, and simple assessment of general hearing health. At the beginning of the test the individual is asked to provide some basic contact information, like email or phone number. At the end of the test, the user will be told if their hearing is fine, or if further testing may be required.

A big selling feature of the system is that it can be monitored by someone with no special training in hearing health. The optician simply provides some basic instruction on how to get started and then they can leave the user alone to conduct the test themselves.

For those whose test indicates that there may be some hearing loss, it is a very simple process for the optician to refer the individual to the hearing specialist on the second floor. If the hearing specialists isn’t available at that time – say they were busy with another client – then the optician can book a follow-up appointment at a later date. And if for any reason the appointment could not be scheduled at that time, the individuals contact details were captured at the start of the test, so a future email or phone call can be made to book time into the hearing center.

And for the client, the value of one-stop-shopping can’t be under estimated. Rather than driving around town to multiple locations for different services, now they can have all of their vision and hearing services provided under one roof.

Before signing on to a full annual commitment of SHOEBOX QuickTest, Stadelmaier conducted a 3-month pilot project. BMS came onsite for a full day to install and set up the equipment and provide training for the clinic employees. For that 3-month period, they paid $690USD (698 CHF) for 2 systems. That enabled them to:

  • Conducted 150 hearing screening tests
  • Book 25 appointments into the hearing center
  • Sell 4 additional sets of hearing aids

Given the price of the hearing aids sold, Stadelmaier reported at 1000% return on their 3-month investment.

“Thanks to the professional support of BMS, the set-up and deployment of our pilot went very smoothly. And the systems quickly gained wide acceptance by our opticians because they are so easy to use,” says Andri Persenico, manager of the hearing center. “Now, we also use them outside of our stores, at trade fairs for example, to help us acquire new customers. We get back in hearing aid sales several times the monthly cost of each system.”

[1] https://www.hear-it.org/switzerland-one-in-ten-say-they-have-a-hearing-loss-

[2] http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/deafness-and-hearing-loss

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3277836/