In June of this year, 2010, we fielded a national survey with the goal of taking the pulse of both audiologists and hearing instrument specialists on the subject of practice management. Over the past 5 years, the issue of how to manage the business side of hearing aid dispensing has become increasingly important, especially to success of the small to medium size practice. In attending conferences and in talking with practitioners in a variety of settings, the conversation invariably comes around to how people are doing financially, and who is using what technology to help manage their businesses.
"Practice management software usage looms ever larger in this discussion."
281 people completed the survey. It was conducted entirely online, with the survey open for approximately two months over the months of July and August of this year. In general, the demographic make-up of our respondents closely resembles that of the respondents to recent national surveys by the Hearing Journal and several of the hearing industry trade groups. One difference is that practically all of our respondents (98.9%) dispense hearing aids.
Due to the way in which we set up our survey, we have been able to look at and compare audiologists vs. hearing instrument specialists (HIS), single practitioners vs. larger practices, newer practitioners vs. those with 12+ years of experience, CCC-A certification vs. BC-HIS, and practice management software users vs. non-users. Through direct comparisons and multi-variate analysis, we have developed some very interesting findings as well as questions we will probe at a later date, especially on: first, the use of software as a practice management tool; and second, the use and tracking of marketing in all media.
Biggest Issue Holding Back Growth:
For those who felt that their biggest issue was ineffective marketing and measurement, 65.4% also felt that they were not doing enough marketing. Additionally, 42.3% felt that inability to covert initial consultations into sales was also a major issue. In looking at these three issues, we suspect that low conversion rates have become a straw man for lack of follow through on tracking leads and marketing expenditures.
“Marketing costs and tracking of marketing efforts are the biggest hurdles to growth.”
1. We certainly struck a chord in surveying thoughts and feelings among audiologists and hearing instrument specialists about practice management. This subject is very much on the minds of everyone who is in the business of dispensing hearing aids. With our respondents, the biggest issues revolve around:
- Controlling the marketing process
- Quantifying and tracking success measures
- Using or not using practice management software
- Keeping up with changing technology (software, social media, CRM, Electronic Health Records)
- Having a safe, private place to discuss these issues.
2. The differences between practice management for audiologists and practice management for the hearing instrument specialist world are being bridged by software users from both groups.
3. Sales and customer service training may be the next big practice management opportunity.
We plan to follow up this survey with in depths interviews with key individuals within the audiology and licensed dispensing communities to gain a deeper understanding of how they are using practice management tools to keep their practices financially healthy and clinically more efficient.
Over the coming weeks, we will post more findings from this groundbreaking survey. For more information on the survey or for a complete copy contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.