I had seen pictures, but I had no idea how magical it would really be. I have been to many clinics – many facilities boasting the newest and greatest technology. I’ve seen real ear verification systems, laboratories with all of the tools and parts you could ever need, but I had never seen an office so intricately designed and well thought out.
Recently I had the opportunity to travel to St. Joseph, Michigan to visit one of the most successful hearing healthcare private practices in the country – Dr. Gyl Kasewurm’s Professional Hearing Services. The amount of knowledge that I gleaned over two days was incredible. Here are the top 5 things that will propel me into my career that I learned while there.
1. The importance of believing in the service you provide
One thing that I saw was how firmly Dr. Gyl and her staff believed in the services that they were providing. Dr Gyl made it very clear that hearing better is worth the investment. If you don’t believe that purchasing hearing aids will make a huge difference, you will have hard time convincing somebody to spend thousands of dollars on a new set. If you don’t believe that hearing better is something that will drastically improve quality of life, why would you expect the patient to believe it?
2. “PRICE is what you pay, VALUE is what you get”
This is a quote that I heard Dr. Gyl use when describing the direction of the profession. In all honesty private practices simply cannot compete with the prices offered at certain unnamed stores. What do you do? You need to add value to every step of the patient journey that cannot be offered anywhere else. From reading Dr. Gyl’s blog and seeing it in person, she constantly aims to add value to every step of the process. From freshly baked cookies and hot popcorn waiting for guests in the lobby, to a cozy and welcoming environment with couches and pillows and TVs (and a cute dog named Reno), to gold standard practices implemented at every stage of the hearing aid journey. Speech in noise testing is performed with every person. Real ear verification is performed by the professional during every hearing aid fitting appointment. Aided testing shows the patient the benefit of new hearing aids. They believe that the prices that they charge are a reflection of the value that they offer, and this is something that big name stores simply cannot offer. Patients are looking for the service and hearing healthcare, not necessarily a device.
3. How to create an efficient work flow
One thing that I noticed while visiting was how well every single detail had thought put into it. New patients are welcomed into their own waiting area where they are made to feel at home. They are not sitting amongst hearing aid users who might be having difficulties or are upset about their current ability to hear. When patients are checking out they are escorted into a separate checkout area where payment is handled. The front desk handles incoming patients and takes care of looking up relevant information regarding the patient’s hearing aid history. They have various forms and sheets to make it very clear what needs to be charged at each appointment. The laboratory had an impeccable flow. Every hearing aid coming in or going out had a place. I realized how important it is to delegate tasks so that the education and experience of the professional can be utilized in the tasks that generate revenue. She has employed lab technicians and audiology assistants that take care of basic clean and check appointments, repairs, hearing aid orders and many other tasks so that they can offer walk-in hours without sacrificing time that could be used to test patients who may be eligible for new hearing aids.
4. Successful methods for building a practice
I think I left the practice on my final day with a whole folder full of printouts, cards, forms, and flyers. One thing that I found particularly interesting was their use of referral cards. She mentioned to me that at one point the business was receiving about 70% of their business from direct patient referrals. WOW! I immediately went home and designed a few of my own to start handing out immediately. You would be surprised how willing people are to handing something like this out to friends. Some other good methods of building a practice that I learned were the importance of establishing a social media presence, testing different marketing streams (print, TV, etc), being involved in the community, and maybe most importantly – tracking your performance as a provider. Know your help rate (people who are eligible for hearing aids and proceed with the recommendation) and aim for 80%. Know your margins and cost of goods. Know what areas need development and make the effort to change those numbers.
5. Knowing what you want to get out of your career
One of the most important things the Dr. Gyl taught me while I was there was during a casual conversation at dinner with her and her husband. She told me that I needed to figure out what I want out of my career and out of life. As I head into my professional career (I will be on the job market in May, everybody) I have thought a lot about what I want to be doing in the next year or five years, but I haven’t thought much about what I want out of my career, or even more daunting, out of life. The big picture. She told me that it is something that I need to figure out. Did I want to be successful in business? Is it important to me if I live comfortably and make a good salary? Is it important to do humanitarian work? Do I want to have lots of free time for social activities or time off? She said she always knew what kind of life she wanted to live and she worked until she could have that life. I learned that soon, I am going to need to figure out my plans, a little more than what I need to do to get by or through the next year. I need to start thinking about the big picture if I want to figure out a way to get there. Currently, it is still up in the air, but I am realizing that I need to develop a goal, and make it happen. If I never set a goal, I will always be just getting by.
I am very thankful to Dr. Gyl and the staff at Professional Hearing Services for all of their kindness and knowledge! Hope these tips will help others too!
For more information about Dr. Gyl Kasewurm and downloadable resources check out her blog at www.drgyl.com.