We strive to provide personalized, professional care that goes beyond just fitting hearing aids. Our mission is to ensure each patient receives the highest standard of audiological care tailored to their unique needs.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Audiologist

by | Apr 28, 2019 | Hearing Aids, Hearing Loss, Patient Resources

Since childhood, I’ve been a fan of the Marvel and DC superheroes. One of my favorite characters is Spiderman. For me, his most endearing/honorable quality is his dedication to his community, being a “friendly neighborhood spiderman”. That quality, being a part of and helping out within the community, is vitally important in this age of increasing disconnectedness. With so many things pulling us apart or away from each other, it’s important to remember community/family and those things that bind or bond us. 

So what, you may ask, does Spiderman have to do with Audiology?! That’s a fair question. Stay with me here for a second. First, I’m writing this right before the opening weekend of Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame (don’t worry, no spoilers here). Then, this past week, my wife showed me a Nextdoor ‘thread’ (and a friend also mentioned it) about someone local looking for a place to be “fit for a hearing aid”. I was honored and gratified that within MY community, my practice, Berkeley Hearing Center, was recognized a number of times for the care we give. That’s how I came up with the idea/title/moniker ‘your friendly neighborhood audiologist’!   

And what got my ‘audiology-sense tingling’ (i.e. troubled–for those not familiar with Spiderman’s special power to sense danger), was that medical advice was being elicited and given (often not the best) over an internet neighborhood chat site from individuals with no training in or understanding of the complexities involved in the proper individualized assessment & treatment of hearing loss. Hearing aids are far too often (incorrectly) thought of as a consumer product, rather than (by definition) prosthetic medical devices specifically designed to treat hearing loss. I think this happens largely because they are routinely not covered by insurance and “Big Box” retailers have set up ‘hearing aid shops’ in their stores with significantly reduced upfront cost. I get it. If you don’t know any better and you see hearing aids from the same manufacturers, but Costco’s price is ~½ the cost of a private practice audiologist like myself, why pay more for the “same thing”? But the fact is, you’re not getting the same thing! Audiologists are the medical professionals specifically trained to diagnose and treat hearing loss.

Why then were so many people recommending this individual go to Costco to get ‘treatment for their hearing loss’? Do you see this in any other medical field?! It is a fact that a consumer will pay less (up front) for their hearing aids at a Big Box store such as Costco. But the old adage, ‘you get what you pay for’, was never so true than with hearing aids & hearing healthcare. When you buy hearing aids at Costco, you are getting a product, not health care.

And, more likely than not, you’re getting a poorly programmed product from an individual with relatively limited knowledge/training/expertise/understanding of how, what and/or why they are doing what they’re doing to address your hearing healthcare needs.

Typically a handful of times a month we get folks coming to our office unsatisfied with their Costco hearing aids, the care/service they received or both. Literally today, I had an individual who came to me because “I wasted my money on these glorified amplifiers”. The sad thing is that they weren’t necessarily bad or inappropriate hearing aids, Costco just couldn’t make them live up to their potential.

You don’t save money if you have to do it a second time to get it right the first time. To paraphrase James Carville,

 “It’s Costco, stupid!”  

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Jonathan Lipschutz Audiologist, M.S., F-AAA, Owner

Jonathan is the owner of Berkeley Hearing Center. He received his bachelor of science in hearing and speech science and a master of science in audiology from Purdue University. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology and the California Academy of Audiology. Jonathan has over 20 years of audiology and hearing aid experience in both the non-profit and corporate sectors.

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