As a hearing aid dispenser, you work is highly important. Unfortunately, as with most professions in the medical world, sometimes you have to deliver bad news to your patients. When people come to you, they're likely aware that their hearing isn't as clear as it should be — otherwise, they wouldn't have sought your assistance in the first place. But just because somebody is fully aware things could be better, it doesn't make it any easier to hear the news: you need to wear a hearing aid.
In many respects, this situation is akin to taking away a senior citizen's car keys. Losing the keys and gaining hearing aids have one very important aspect in common: The people being affected by the news feel like they're losing a piece of themselves; they feel like their independence is being taken away. Of course, you know you have your patients' best interests at heart, but how do you convince them that's true?
Take heed of these tips when you need to convince your patients they need to wear hearing aids:
1. Listen to Your Patients
As ironic as it may sound, many audiologists get so caught up listening to their patients' hearing tests, they forget to actually listen to the human element involved in each meeting. Remember, your patients probably aren't interested in conversations about audiograms, pure tones, and frequencies; they're concerned about the things that are affecting their real lives.
Listening to your patients will help you address concerns that are very personal to them. In doing so, you can build a rapport that will help you relate the importance of hearing aids to their own real-life scenarios. You'll be surprised at how much easier these conversations can go when people feel like they're being heard.
2. Let Your Patients Drive the Conversation
You can't listen to your patients if they never have the opportunity to share their concerns with you. Let them do the talking. This will help you identify their core issues and worries so you can have a better understanding of why they are hesitant to wear hearing aids.
The best way to get through to your patients is to let them convince themselves of the importance of hearing aids. Probing with the right questions will facilitate a more patient-centered approach, which will get your patients talking. The more you're able to lead them down the path of discovery, the more likely they'll be to begin to understand the positive impact hearing aids on their own.
3. Use Easy-to-Understand Visual Aids
When you're telling someone they need a hearing aid, you're telling them they need to change their life, and as we all know, change is challenging.
To demonstrate the cycle of behavioral change, have some simple tools on hand that will help your patients visualize what you're asking of them. Tangible, visual proof can be an essential ingredient in helping people grasp how their habits (and the changing of habits) will happen in real life. With reasonable expectations laid out ahead of time, you'll be able to help your patients overcome their fears proactively, before they can talk themselves out of making a positive change in their lives.
4. Encourage them to Bring a Family Member
Your patients' family members are probably your biggest advocates, so it's important to make them feel invited and welcome. Naturally, you can'trequireyour patients to bring someone with them, but you can certainly encourage it when they make their appointments or call to inquire about your products and services.
There's a certain psychology with the word "invite". When a patient makes an appointment, invite them to bring a loved one along. Your receptionists should have standard language, which facilitates these conversations and gently suggests your patients not come solo. Consider using something such as the following when your practice interacts with patients:
"At our practice, we welcome friends and family members to come along. We invite you to bring someone with you to your appointment so you feel relaxed and comfortable."
Remember, patients' friends and family members have a lot of insider knowledge about what's going on in their lives. If they come along to the appointment, they'll more than likely advocate on behalf of the hearing aid cause.
Your role as a hearing aid dispenser can enhance your patients' well-being and overall quality of life. Knowing how to approach the crucial conversations revolving around initial diagnoses can help you combat uncomfortable confrontation before it begins. Understand your patients' fears and feelings, and you'll be able to help them overcome their initial reactions so you can help them get back on the hearing bandwagon.