5 OTC Hearing Aid Tips for Pharmacies
Posted on Oct 26, 2022
Until recently, the process and cost of obtaining hearing aids has been a barrier for many patients. In fact, an estimated 30 million U.S. adults could benefit from hearing aids, but only 1 in every 5 are using them. This significant gap in care led the FDA to develop regulations for a new category of hearing aids that are available over the counter. The new devices provide greater access and more affordable options for individuals 18 and older with perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss. OTC hearing aids cost considerably less, are self-fitting and designed to help amplify specific frequencies of sound, including voices. This improves conversations and dialog comprehension for impacted individuals. OTC hearing aids provide pharmacies with a way to not only increase their front-end sales but better care for their patients as well. As with any new product or service, it’s important for pharmacies to have a plan to incorporate these devices into their store and assist patients.
Here’s are 5 OTC hearing aid tips for pharmacies:
1. Know the signs/symptoms of mild-to-moderate hearing loss.
The new FDA guidelines outline some common indicators to watch for, including:
- Difficulty distinguishing between similar-sounding words.
- Difficulty following one-on-one conversations when there is background noise.
- Having to ask people to repeat themselves.
- Leaning in during a conversation to hear better.
Pharmacists should also be aware of certain risk factors, such as occupation and family history, which may make an individual more susceptible to hearing loss.
2. Explain the options.
After evaluating the patient, pharmacists should outline their recommendation and, if appropriate, help the patient select an OTC hearing device. When reviewing the OTC options, pharmacists should consider the individual’s needs and preferences and educate patients on each device’s features.
In some cases, OTC hearing aids may not be appropriate, like instances where the hearing loss may be caused by factors that would require medical treatment and/or a hearing test first. To help, the FDA has established eligibility requirements for OTC hearing devices as well. For example, if any of the following factors are present, the patient should be directed to follow up with their primary physician and/or an audiologist before a hearing aid is dispensed:
- Ear pain or discomfort
- Sudden or worsening hearing loss
- A history of excessive ear wax build-up
- Suspicion that something is in the ear canal
- Any recent drainage from the ear
- Episodes of dizziness/vertigo with hearing loss
- Ringing in only one ear, or a noticeable difference in hearing between each ear
For this reason, the pharmacy should establish a relationship with a local audiologist. This way they can refer patients who may have underlying health concerns that require attention. To find audiologists nearby, pharmacies can use online resources like the “Find an Audiologist” site, which is managed by the American Academy of Audiology.
3. Collaborate with the patient’s care team.
Whether an OTC device was dispensed, or the patient was referred to another provider, pharmacies should document their observations and communicate with other providers about the recommendations being made. Pharmacies can leverage their BestRx software to ensure better continuity of care by:
- Documenting health information and screening results in the patient’s profile.
- Communicating electronically with audiologists and other members of the patient’s care team.
4. Adjust your communication style.
As with anything else being dispensed, it’s critical that patients understand how to use their hearing aids. Comprehension can be especially challenging for individuals with hearing difficulties, so pharmacists may need to adjust their communication style. This includes making sure their face is visible, speaking slower and reducing background noise when possible.
Additionally, providing written instructions and utilizing other support tools, the pharmacist can help the patient become more familiar with their device as well. In fact, many hearing aids can be paired with a patient’s smartphone for easier activation and to adjust the settings. Walking the patient through the setup can be helpful.
5. Add information to your website and/or business profile.
Finally, add information about the OTC hearing aids that are available on the pharmacy’s website and/or Google Business Profile. This way the pharmacy will appear for anyone searching for hearing devices nearby. In fact, pharmacies that use our point-of-sale software, BestPOS can easily display their OTC products online, thanks to our integration with Local Inventory on Google.
OTC hearing aids provide pharmacies with a great way to add a new source of revenue and expand the care they provide. Plus, they can be easily incorporated into your store and rung out through BestPOS, just like any other OTC item. Request a free demo to learn more about how BestRx can help you efficiently manage your entire store.