When it comes to hearing, we all want things to be crystal clear. A recent Australian Competition & Consumer Commission report, however, suggests that the advice delivered at major hearing clinics may include overtones of bias. This report includes two key findings. First, many major clinics are affiliated, and some even owned outright, by hearing aid manufacturers. Second, clinicians in these clinics can receive incentives to meet sales targets. What does this mean for clients? To put in plainly, your hearing outcomes might not be their number one priority.

So how can you be sure that the advice you’re hearing isn’t influenced by background noise? The answer is simple: Look for an independent hearing aid clinic. The first benefit from these clinics is that, because they do not have to look out for the interests of a manufacturer, you can feel confident that they aren’t trying to sell you something you don’t actually need. In other words, their primary focus is providing you with the best advice, rather than meeting their sales targets.

Of course there will be circumstances when the best advice includes buying a hearing aid. In such circumstances, independent clinics are able to offer a much better range of options at various price points. Why? Because they’re not in the pocket of particular manufacturers, which means that the options their clinicians provide to you are not limited to what that manufacturer makes. By using an independent clinic, you’ll be able to take advantage of the competition that exists between major manufacturers.

At the end of the day, you should be the one that makes the final decision over what hearing aid is best for you, not a manufacturer. Having your hearing start to deteriorate can be a challenging and uncomfortable experience where you’re no longer in full control over one of your senses. Feeling like you don’t have control over how you respond to your hearing loss can make it all the more difficult. From a psychological perspective, being able to weigh up all your options (not just those provided by a single manufacturer) and make the decision yourself is an important part of moving forward.

So that you have as much control as you can when discussing your options, here are a few helpful tips:

  • Ask the clinician to explain your audiogram to you, so that you have a good understanding of the nature of your specific hearing loss
  • Ask the clinician to discuss the range of hearing aid options from different manufacturers at different price points
  • Ask the clinician to help you compare the different features of the hearing aids so you can identify which one might suit your specific needs the best
  • If the clinician recommends a particular hearing aid (or brand), ask them to explain why
  • Take notes, ask for a quote, get a copy of your audiogram, and seek a second opinion
  • Ask if the clinic offers a free trial period
  • Most importantly, feel free to say “no”

Losing your hearing doesn’t have to mean losing control. Seeking advice from an independent clinic helps you retain control over your hearing by ensuring that you’re given a full range of options. In a time of “fake news”, when biased opinions are presented as truth, it’s refreshing to receive advice that isn’t influenced by someone else’s agenda. So make an appointment with an independent hearing aid clinic, and take comfort knowing that they’re telling you what you need to hear, and not what someone else wants you to hear.