How to Choose a Reputable Audiologist
Choosing the right audiologist isn’t as easy as opening up a phone book or a quick Google search. You want to find someone who you can trust with your hearing health, who will work with you to find the right solution to your needs, and who will stay connected with you and your primary care physician to make sure that your overall health needs are being considered.
When you are considering a new audiologist, here are some things to keep in mind to help you find the best audiologist for you.
Since 2012, audiologists entering the field are required to hold a doctoral degree to be eligible for national certification. An audiologist's education starts with a four-year bachelors degree, followed by a four-year doctoral program, after which they are eligible to be certified as a Doctor of Audiology (AuD).
Audiologists with master’s degrees who were certified prior to 2012 were grandfathered into the new national certification program, but they don't hold the same level of training and education as a doctor of audiology. When you are looking for an audiologist, find one that has the highest level of education and training to serve your needs.
When it comes to the practice of audiology, experience really matters. It's important to have a formal education to learn the mechanics and modalities involved with hearing health, but it is only through the interaction with patients on a daily basis that an audiologist gains the wisdom and experience to understand the subtle nuances of each patient’s needs, and how to treat them. Fine-tuning hearing aids to get the best sound is a skill that can only be acquired through years of practice, so if you are buying hearing aids your audiologist's experience is even more critical. An audiologist with at least 15 years of experience will be able to diagnose and treat any type of hearing loss or associated disorder.
A referral is an excellent way to find an audiologist, and many health care practitioners rely on referrals to find new patients. But if you don’t know anyone who has recently visited an audiologist, or if their audiologist doesn’t have the education or experience you are looking for, there are other things to consider.
Make sure the audiologist has many testimonials from patients, including video testimonials. Written reviews are easy to fake, but video testimonials demonstrate the legitimacy of the patient experience. Ensure that the audiologist's professional credentials are in good standing, and that they are also in good standing with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
4. Diversity of Hearing Solutions
Your ears and hearing profile are like your finger print – each person’s is unique, and covering the spectrum of hearing needs means that there are literally hundreds of hearing solutions available.
Find an audiologist that has access to many different hearing aids from different manufacturers. Each manufacturer offers hearing aids with differing features and technologies, suited for different ears, hearing types and lifestyles. An audiologist who works with various manufacturers and offers different types of hearing aids will be able to recommend the one that is best suited to you, not just the one they happen to have available.
5. Diagnostic Capability
Make sure your audiologist has state-of-the-art equipment, the knowledge and experience, and takes enough time to properly diagnose your condition. Your audiologist should conduct a thorough examination to determine if, in fact, you do have permanent hearing loss (as opposed to just a wax build up), and conduct a careful enquiry to determine the reason for the hearing loss (is it the result of medication you are taking?) in order to correctly diagnose and then treat your particular hearing condition with the right devices and rehabilitation techniques.
6. Aftercare Programs
A good aftercare program is the hallmark of any reputable audiologist. Unlike eye glasses, hearing aids often require a series of fine-tuning adjustments to get the sound just right, and your brain needs to re-learn how to process the sounds you've lost. That's why aftercare programs that help you rehabilitate your hearing are so critical. Any solid aftercare program will provide resources to help you retrain your brain, include free fine-tuning adjustments, and a substantial no-obligation trial period (at least 30 days) for you to see if the hearing aids are working for you. Your hearing is too important to accept anything less.
7. Insurance Accepted
Choose an audiologist who will accept payment for your tests and treatments through your insurance. Some insurance providers require that you get a professional referral to an audiologist in order to cover the services, and some audiologists don't accept insurance at all. Speak to your audiologist about how they work with your insurance company to make sure you are fully covered.
8. A Large Practice
An audiologist with a large practice and several locations is bound to be more reputable than a one-man (or woman) operation. A large practice shows stability and success which come from a satisfied patient base. This isn't a guarantee, but a rule of thumb that a Fortune 500 blue-chip company is more likely to provide a reliable experience than an unknown entity.