Optical Care and Hearing Services

The Natural Fit of Optical Care and Hearing Services

Audiometry, Hearing Health, Hearing Services

One of the biggest challenges business owners face is getting qualified leads – prospective customers who have the means to purchase products and services and will share their enthusiasm about the business with other potential customers.

The cost to gain a qualified lead varies greatly by industry and, according to Bright Orange Thread, is calculated by adding up all of your business’ costs related to marketing over a specified timeframe and dividing by the number of new leads. In the hearing care industry, this calculation can get complicated because lead generation is a multi-faceted approach with both tangible and intangible costs. However, it has been estimated that the cost to obtain a prospective hearing aid patient can range from $500-800. While this cost is much higher than in other consumer-facing industries, robust hearing aid sales and repeat business can make the cost well worth it.

Optical shops as lead generators

What if there was an easier and less costly way to generate hearing aid leads? In the UK, there is already a trend underway to do just that. By leveraging the natural fit of offering both optical and hearing services together either under one roof or in close partnership with other providers, the cost of generating leads can be dramatically reduced while also providing greater value and convenience for consumers. Optical and hearing care providers are jumping onboard with positive and profitable results.

Savvy optical chains are leveraging low cost options that can be highly practical and profitable. Similar to the consumer-friendly, do-it-yourself blood pressure screeners that have existed in retail pharmacies for decades, tablet-based, self-administered hearing screeners, such as the QuickTest from SHOEBOX Audiometry, can be used in optical shops. These screeners exist for the sole purpose of generating leads for further testing and potential hearing aid sales. While these solutions do not determine hearing thresholds, they are perfect for consumers who are curious to take a quick, convenient, pass/fail hearing test.

Any patient who doesn’t pass the screening can be sent to a hearing clinic for follow up. The optical shop can then charge the hearing care provider for the lead. Compared with leads generated from other means like print ads, website lead generation forms and telemarketing, leads that come from an optical provider are much more valuable. They are highly-qualified leads, representing consumers who are engaged in their overall wellness.

Comprehensive eye and ear care

Some optical businesses wish to go beyond generating leads for affiliated hearing clinics and make the ambitious move into full-scale hearing aid sales. Optical shop owners are well-acquainted with spending thousands on costly equipment that can take up significant real estate in the retail shop. Traditional diagnostic audiology requires a full-service audiometer and a soundproof booth that can cost as much as $100K to build.

Thankfully, there are lower cost equipment options for business savvy optical shop owners who wish to maximize efficiency and profit from both optical and hearing services. For instance, tablet-based solutions for testing like the SHOEBOX Pro go well beyond screening to provide hearing thresholds for both air and bone conduction, speech recognition thresholds and even speech discrimination scores.

If the optical shop wishes to capture the full revenue stream from hearing aid testing and sales, they can hire a full- or part-time audiologist or hearing aid specialist to be onsite to fit hearing aids and provide service to patients. Many shops in the UK find this option most attractive because they keep the patient under one roof maximizing efficiency and profit from both optical and hearing services.

Tablet-based audiometry makes it possible

Tablet-based audiometers make leveraging the relationship between optical and hearing services easy, cost-effective and practical. These innovative systems, some of which are literally small enough to fit inside a shoebox, are lightweight and portable, going wherever they are needed on demand.

Compared to bulky capital equipment, tablet-based audiometry is a low and predictable monthly or annual cost. For a monthly fee of around $200 or an annual fee just over $2000, you can provide your optical clients with hearing testing services without them ever leaving your office.

Easy startup and training

Nearly anyone, regardless of skill level, can administer a clinically-valid hearing test with today’s tablet-based audiometers. Intuitive interfaces and device-specific training provided at no cost by the manufacturer make getting started simple. Because anyone on staff can provide hearing testing, you’ll make efficient use of your employees’ time whether you have a staff audiologist, hearing aid specialist, optician or front office receptionist conducting the test.

After initial training on how to use the tablet-based audiometer, most manufacturers offer ongoing support for as long as you use the system. This support is just a phone call, email or online chat away. Some will even calibrate the system to ensure long-term accuracy.

Tablet-based audiometers are a natural fit for retail-oriented optical chains. During wait times, before optical exams or after being fit with new frames, consumers can easily be given a hearing test. Tablet-based systems are as easy for consumers as they are for the person administering the test. Most are completely language-independent and obtain accurate hearing thresholds by relying on simple interfaces and on-screen games so even those with cognitive challenges can get the hearing help they need. The portable system means the tablet can go anywhere there’s a free room for testing, and many patients appreciate the booth-free testing environment. 

One-stop shopping

Optical providers have discovered that offering hearing testing onsite – whether it’s a self-administered screening or a clinically-valid comprehensive test – is a key differentiator for their businesses since many consumers find the “one stop shop” convenient and attractive. Whichever option optical shop owners choose – hiring an audiologist or hearing aid specialist or simply letting consumers test themselves – offering both optical services and hearing services together is a win-win for businesses and consumers. Tablet-based audiometry and the support from their manufacturers makes getting started simple and lower cost for a portable audiometer.