I’ve been an audiologist for 20 years and have worked for Phonak as a clinical trainer for 9 of those years. I am always looking for ways of self-improvement for myself and also to find new ideas to share with others. One of my favorite tips is especially topical given the current evolution of hearing healthcare.
Practices and clinicians are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors while also looking for ways to provide the best clinical care. They want patients to easily understand why they should stay with them for hearing healthcare. My tip is so simple and it doesn’t cost a dime. It actually is an investment that saves money in the end. The tip is merely to ask more questions. It seems so simplistic, but it is incredibly effective.
Whether you are a new clinician, or one who has been practicing for many years, the idea of asking your patient more questions can yield significant returns. For example, I have seen countless clinicians ask about a person’s lifestyle in an attempt to make a solid hearing aid recommendation. They ask where the patient doesn’t hear well and where they want to hear better. For the majority of my experiences, this makes up the bulk of the conversation. By asking deeper questions, a clinician can learn more about the challenges the patient is facing. It also effectively allows the patient to see that the clinician cares because they are really getting to know the root of the problem. Asking how about how a person feels by not hearing well in that situation shows true empathy to the challenges faced by the patient. This creates a deeper bond that will win you a patient for life.
The idea of asking more questions extends well beyond the hearing aid evaluation, it also helps during the hearing aid follow up appointments. Many times, a patient may say that they don’t hear well in a noisy situation. Being natural problem solvers, clinicians frequently will then begin to make adjustments to the hearing aid without digging a little deeper. “Tell me about the person or thing you were trying to hear?”… “Does this happen all of the time?”… “How often are you in this situation?”… “How badly does this bother you?”… “Does it affect others?”… “How important is it for you to hear in that situation?”… “Would you like me to make an adjustment to attempt to minimize this problem?” This will not only lead to better hearing outcomes, it will help your bottom line by reducing hearing aid returns and repeat follow-up visits.
So in closing, I challenge each and everyone one of you to ask at least one question more. Dig a little deeper. Get to really know your patient. In the end, you’ll be happy that you did.
If you’d like to learn more about the art of asking questions, check out this article from Harvard Business Review – https://hbr.org/2015/03/relearning-the-art-of-asking-questions.