Dr. Wright's Blog

Perceived Value

This week I saw the father of a client of mine who winter’s in Palm Desert.

He bought hearing aids down there and was very excited because he purchased Oticon Acto hearing aids which were advertised for $9000 for the pair and on sale for $4500.

He was thrilled at the “deal” he got.  I showed him our price of $3790 for the pair; which is the price that they have been since they were introduced to the market two years ago.

The good news about this story is that he did end up getting good quality hearing aids from a reputable manufacturer; but just at a price that was not a good value.

Beware of “sales” that are advertised because there is nothing regulating the industry which would prevent them from increasing prices by 15% (or more) to recover the 15% discount they might be advertising.

Getting to know Dr. Erin Wright

I was born and raised in Carman, Manitoba. Between 1990 – 1994 I attended the University of North Dakota where I swam on the University NCAA swim team. I completed an undergraduate degree in Communication Disorders and Speech Pathology. From 1994 – 1996 I studied at Portland State University in Portland Oregon where I finished a Master’s degree in Audiology.

In 1996 I began work as an Audiologist in Las Vegas, Nevada where I was an Educational Audiologist for the Clark County School District. My passion for audiology spurred me on to do an advanced degree. I started a doctorate in Audiology in 1999 and graduated in 2003 from Arizona School of Health Sciences. This advanced degree gave me in depth knowledge about hearing aids, hearing loss as well as proper counseling in the effect s of hearing loss and tinnitus.

In 2003, my husband and I moved to Victoria and I began work at Island Hearing Services on Fort Street. I managed their downtown clinic until 2005 when I had my first son Spencer. In July 2006, I opened Broadmead Hearing Clinic and we had immediate success. In February 2011 we decided to open a second location in Oak Bay which has given my Oak Bay and downtown clients much greater accessibility to the clinic.

My second son Gavin came along in 2007 and they are both now active and full of so much energy. Spencer is in Grade 2 and Gavin is in Kindergarten.

I sincerely enjoy Audiology and feel it is a perfect fit for me. I understand that one of our basic human needs is for connection with others, and without good hearing, connections become strained because communication is fragmented. We lose our ability to communicate with ease and I get great job gratification in improving people’s quality of life.

A New Season of Learning

This back to school week marks 22 years since I walked into The University of North Dakota to take my first Audiology 101 class.  Fall has always felt like the “New Year” to me mostly because of years of back-to-school and the excitement that comes from the potential in the year to come.

What I am grateful for this fall is that I have chosen a profession where the learning never stops.  There are constantly new training seminars, conferences and even online learning opportunities for me to take in.

The week of September 10, I  am participating in a virtual conference put on by Audiology Online where I can listen and participate in live lectures about proper hearing aid selection and verification.  In October, we are traveling to Vancouver to be one of the few clinics on Vancouver Island to receive the training for the new Lyric2 product.  And in November and January, rumor has it that there will be some new technology launched by some of the manufacturers so the training for that is sure to be interesting.

The science behind what happens in a hearing aid is fascinating and the research emerging about the ear and the way we process sound will contribute immensely to our understanding of the ear and how to improve upon our ability to amplify hearing.

My mission statement hung in our offices, promises to meet the needs of individuals with advancements in technologies, so I make a promise to make every effort to keep up with research and stay up to date on what is new and improved in this industry so that you don’t have to.

Here's to a new season of learning.

A Common Question: What hearing aids do you work with?

It dawned on me yesterday that the answer to this question is on a lot of people’s minds. I saw a client yesterday who I have known and have been working with for several years. She was ready to upgrade her old Siemens hearing aids which I fit on her about 5 years ago. Even though I have spent many hours with her, she was of the impression that I only used Siemens hearing aids and that if she wanted something else (like the ones she had been looking at online), that she would have to go to another company. I can see why people would think this because in so many other businesses (insurance, electronics, cars) you shop at different “dealers” to determine what different people have to offer.

Shopping for hearing aids is unique. It’s not like glasses frames where you might shop around until you find ones that you like and that are in the right price point. It’s much easier than that. What you are shopping for really, is the Audiologist. At Broadmead and Oak Bay hearing clinics, we are not owned by a hearing instrument manufacturer and therefore can use any hearing aid that has ever been made by any company that has ever made hearing aids. Really. It is not something we stock on shelves, so you can browse the selection. It is a custom device for very good reason. There are so many different factors that go into choosing the best hearing aid for someone (do we need excellent feedback management, do you want a remote control, do we need it to be simple, do we want multiple programs and controls, do we need frequency transposition, do we need directional microphones, how big (or small) is your ear canal, do you have sensitive skin, are you overly sensitive to loud noise, do you need a rechargeable battery, do you have tinnitus, will we require a tinnitus masker). This is actually a short list of some of the many considerations we make prior to choosing what hearing aid manufacturer to use. This is why I feel very strongly about independence in hearing aid clinics.

When you use an independent Audiologist such as with our clinic, you have some security in knowing that whatever company has the combination of features that you might require, this is the company that we choose to order from. I frequently use 6 or 7 different hearing aid manufacturers to satisfy all of the different needs that people have. The Audiologists here are constantly going to training seminars so that they are up to date on the very latest in technology from each of the companies. This is helpful because the hearing aid manufacturers often leap frog one and other with the products they release.

The last misconception I would like to address is price. People often think they are getting a better price if they go with a large corporate chain and equate it to the big box store mentality. Smaller independent clinics are not spending $500,000 in a single month on TV ads (as in the case of one of our competitors) so we can keep our costs lower than the big guys. The added benefit is that you are keeping your dollars in the community and supporting local families, rather than anonymous shareholders somewhere in Europe.

The final word is that at Broadmead and Oak Bay Hearing Clinics, we use every manufacturer for some reason or another. We want you to put your trust in your Audiologist and feel confident that she is up on what is best and that she will choose the hearing aid that fits your unique needs with no other influences that might muddy the water.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us by phone or email and we'll be happy to help in any way we can.

Fitting Appointment

So you’ve had your Hearing Evaluation appointment and with the Audiologist’s help you’ve decided on the right kind of hearing aids to purchase and they’ve been ordered. The next step is your Fitting Appointment which is usually booked the week after your evaluation appointment and is about an hour long.

This is what you can expect when you come to one of our clinics for your fitting appointment.

The Audiologist will start by explaining the process to you and begin by inspecting your ear canals to ensure they are clear. Your hearing instruments will then be connected to the computer so the Audiologist can make acoustic adjustments during the fitting.

She will then put a small microphone down your ear canal which will measure the output of the sound as it reaches your eardrum. This is done to get your Real Ear Measurement. Your new hearing instrument will then be placed on top of this microphone and the hearing instruments will be turned on. At this point, there will be a variety of speech signals presented from the Real Ear Measure machine that will allow the Audiologist to adjust the hearing aids in such a way that we can ensure the right amount of volume is presented at each frequency. An important part of this measurement is ensuring sound does not exceed your loudness tolerance levels.

Once the Real Ear Measurements are completed, the Audiologist will talk with you about your first impressions of the sound. It is likely that the Audiologist will turn the overall volume down a bit so as not to overwhelm you with sound at the first fitting. Most people lose their hearing gradually, so it’s easier to adjust the sound higher in stages.

When the sound levels have been set to a comfortable level for you, the instruments will be removed from your ears and the Audiologist will go over the following:

  • Battery insertion and use
  • Care and cleaning of the hearing instruments
  • How to properly insert and remove
  • Operation of the volume control and program buttons
  • Operation of the remote control (if applicable)
  • How to use them on the phone
  • What to do with them when they’re not in use
  • Counselling on the directional microphones and their function
  • What to expect in the first few days and weeks
  • Connecting the instruments to any Bluetooth accessories such as TV’s or cell phones
  • Will review the instruction booklet that comes with the hearing instruments.

Once you are comfortable with the use of your hearing instruments, we will go over information on the warranty as well as the 90 day trial period.

At this point of your appointment, you will see Devon, Diane or Tracy at the front desk to book your follow up appointment which is generally booked around two weeks after the fitting appointment.

Check back next week as I'll be explaining what happens at the follow up appointment!