LACE: A Big Economic Payoff for our Practice
By Mark Johnson, BC-HIS, A.C.A., Sound Care Hearing Centers Englewood, Florida
Since opening our new clinic in the 4th quarter of 2008, over 80% of our patients receiving new hearing aids have undergone LACE auditory training. The only patients who don’t get LACE training are patients with cognitive impairments, non-English-speakers and those few who have neither a home computer & Internet connection nor a DVD player. We have found LACE to be a big asset to the business and have gotten nothing but positive results.
Our standard protocol is to have patients start LACE training in our office during their first follow-up visit, which we schedule for 3-5 days after the fitting. Then the patients do another 2-4 LACE sessions in the office before continuing their training at home, either on their home computer or DVD player. After this, we typically don’t need any more follow-ups for four months. On our first 4 month follow-up visit with our patients, we review their LACE training results and encourage the patients on how well they have done. Consequently, LACE has significantly decreased the number of follow-up visits and reduced our total man-hours per hearing aid patient. The result is that this investment of 30 minutes in LACE orientation in the clinic yields a big economic payoff for our practice.
Since we started dispensing LACE along with hearing aids nine months ago, we have had zero returns from LACE patients. We had one return from an early-Alzheimer’s patient who was not qualified to undergo LACE training, and another from a patient who refused LACE and then returned his hearing aids.
LACE cements our relationship with the patient; it helps build of bond of trust and a positive realtionship with the patient. Instead of being passive, our patients are now active participants in maximizing their ability to communicate, as they are responsible for a significant part of the solution — retraining their brains and learning how to listen. LACE helps the patients realize that learning to understand with hearing aids also requires work on their part.
LACE also drives referrals. For example, in several cases we have had a spouse come in for hearing aids after watching their husband or wife do LACE training and realizing how much they didn’t hear themselves.
Besides the benefits LACE provides to our patients, we have also found it to be a powerful sales and marketing tool. We have featured LACE in our direct mail and newspaper advertisements, and have had several patients buy hearing aids specifically because we include LACE training.
We are now selling a total hearing healthcare solution by incorporating LACE in our initial presentation to the patient. Providing LACE as a standard part of the hearing aid fitting shows the patient that you really do care about them.
Any practitioner who doesn’t integrate LACE into their practice is shooting themselves in the foot and missing out on a major opportunity to minimize returns, maximize patient satisfaction and increase referrals.