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Subject :  HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Fri Sep 8, 2006 12:56 pm
I think it is safe to say there is general agreement that hearing aids are too expensive and that many go without because of their inability to afford them. The HOH are frustrated and feel they are at the mercy of others. Some alternatives are appearing – but they have disadvantages as well- Not everyone is comfortable programming their own aids. Sending aids back to an internet provider and have them guess at adjustment settings and sending them back is also not an ideal situation. A lot of the HOH need or prefer personal service and advice.

I have been in touch with a Chinese HA manufacturer who is able and willing to ship to the USA. I will post the website at the end of this post.

Here is my proposal- Lets call it the “HOH project” for now

a) Establish a non profit company run by members of this forum which would import the aids and distribute them to audiologists at a predetermined price.
b) In order for an audiologist to be a member of the project they have to agree to sell the aids and provide services (for these aids only) at prices to be determined and agreed by members of this forum (more later)
c) The project would refer the HOH to member audiologists and seek publicity to let as many as possible know of the project.
d) To ensure honesty and adherence to the rules there would be total transparency --- All details posted on this forum or project website– All costs would be documented. Member audiologists and their prices would be posted.

Advantage to the audiologists
a) By being a member of a transparent program run by the HOH you gain credibility & the trust of your clients and thus their loyalty and referrals
b) It would generate sales you would not otherwise be able to make from people who cannot afford your prices or feel they must do tons of research before buying.
c) You would get recommendations from this forum and the benefit or any publicity we could generate. (Think of how much business AH gets from this forum)
d) It stems the threat to your business from large distributors, mass marketers & internet providers that will only grow in time.

Advantage to HOH
a) Assurance that you are getting a good aid at a fair & affordable price
b) You get personal service of a local audiologist
c) It puts the market in the hands of the HOH. We become empowered instead of at the mercy of others as we are now

If done properly I envision the word spreading with articles in newspapers, magazines etc . I am sure we have HOH public relation folks who can help us with publicity. In time we could have a network of member audiologists across the country who agree to our pricing policy.
If successful the major manufacturers would be forced to deal with being undersold and perhaps would want to participate

Ok here is the manufacturer’s website
http://www.lisound.org/

I have their price list but I don’t think they would appreciate having the whole thing posted . For the sake of this discussion let’s look at the their best BTE - HP90P http://www.lisound.org/list.asp?id=36
Price for these aids are $239 each + They have a handling charge $60 per shipment. On the UPS site I estimated another $60 to ship a pair of aids from China to USA. There is no Customs duty on hearing aids. These costs hopefully would go down as more are imported, but for the sake of opening discussion lets say a pair of these aids would cost. $598 ($239 x 2 + $120) or about $300 each

Some of what I think needs to be done
a) Determine if these aids are of good quality . (Any volunteer audiologists / HOH who would be willing to run a trial evaluation?)
b) Set a selling price and price for services earmolds adjustments etc) that audiologists can live with (HOH should consider the audiologist needs to make a reasonable profit. Audiologists should consider that the idea is to bring affordable aids to market and think in terms of future benefit from volume, publicity and customer loyalty. I would suggest a fixed price for the aid + initial adjustment, another fixed price for earmolds and another fixed price for each subsequent adjustment – but let's hear ideas.
c) Sign up audiologists
d) Set up a company to import and distribute the aids.
e) Establish ways to get publicity and refer HOH to the member audiologists (any PR people out there?)
f) Find a way for forum members to ‘vote’ on the rules, prices and conditions
g) What am I missing?


Although there is a lot of disagreement on this forum, I have been impressed with the talent, expertise and experience of the members. I see postings from retired engineers, audiologists, lawyers, and experts in every field imaginable --- certainly enough talent to make this work.

I myself have experience in international trade and have no problem dealing with the manufacturer and will arrange shipping, deal with any importation issues etc. On the other hand I know very little of the technical side or the hearing aid business.

I am dead serious about this. To get started I will arrange for a pair of these aids to be sold to any audiologist at cost (abt $600) provided they agree to sell them and provide services at a rate deemed reasonable by members of this forum. I will fully document the costs. Tell us what the prices should be and why.

Comments? (please please stay respectful of the opinions of others)

Paul

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by MarieD on Fri Sep 8, 2006 2:37 pm
Paul - I read your long post and you have obviously put a lot of thought into this. Who knows you might be at the start of something great.
As you indicated there seems to be a lot of talent on this board. If we all pull together, we might be able to pull such a project through.
The one thing that worries me is the fact that we are all physically so spread out around the country if not the world, since there are some English speaking posters from other countries on this board.
I, for example could volunteer some time to this project during the week, but not on the weekend. I am not available during the weekend.
I have International PR experience having been the Primary International Rep for a mainframe Software Corporation which has been taken over by another Corporation later on in the 90ties.
Actually, if you get this project going, those of us interested would need to get your email address so that we could present ourselves to you and you to us. I, and I am sure the rest of the interested HOH would not want the whole world to know all of our work experience, address and our real names, etc.
Marie
I live not too far from where this web site is generated. I am not even sure if the webmaster of this site would let you promote such a project on their site............

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Fri Sep 8, 2006 3:19 pm
wow already a volunteer with PR experience!
Thanks for your reply Marie.. Anyone is welcome to contact me and ask whatever they want. I have no problem revealing anything about myself but my goal is not to be in charge- although I will do whatever i can to help. As i said I know nothing about this business (my backgriund is in textiles) so I am well aware that my post is naive- e.g. I mentioned nothing about guarantees repairs and probably 100 other issues and problems I know nothing about . But I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who will be happy to explain what is wrong with this plan and hopefully will also suggest solutions

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by AudBall on Fri Sep 8, 2006 3:53 pm
It sounds interesting, but your retail price to an Audi would not even make him/her blink.

Your shipping costs are way off, (it is cheaper than what you are thinking) and it would be be better to ship them by lots rather than a case by case basis. If you shipped them by lots, then you need to have a base location, whare house type set up.

You can buy the packaging already in the US, it would be generic, but still nice. Even if you wanted a custom type package it could be done.

I could be your contact on the other side or the world...

But I don't think audiologist in the US are going to go for this plan.

Why?

A) you plan to dictate the margin levels of audiologist.

Audis in general are a very independent group. They like to be in control of their business decissions. It is just the nature of things.

B) Your price, as I said before, would not even cause an Audi to blink. 600$ for a product that has no reputation, no previous marketing, no nothing... That alone would steer me far clear from such a product. Heck, I could go to e-bay as an Audi and buy HA's at around the same price that have a good reputaion, and a warranty. So there is no real incentive to purchase your product.

Sure you have the awesome web site, but other than the 10 folks that post here, so what. Not only that, but location. Lets say you have a vendor in Tx, but someone is interesting in your particular product from "Lisound" in Ca, but you do not have a vendor in Ca.... then what?

Mail order? Sorry, you will have a hard time finding an Audi interesting in mail order hearing aids. We do have standards, or at least most do.

C) Lisound? I have heard of them, but I have not heard a lot of good about them.


Any how, I don't want to rain on your idea... just pointing out some issues that would have to be resolved.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by MarieD on Fri Sep 8, 2006 4:01 pm
To Paul - please check your email Thanks
I have to run
Nice weekend to all

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Fri Sep 8, 2006 4:05 pm
>

>It sounds interesting, but your retail price to an Audi would not even make him/her blink.;


I am talking about selling price to an audi of $300 per aid $600 per pair - sorry if it was not clear

>Your shipping costs are way off, (it is cheaper than what you are thinking) and it would be be better to ship them by lots rather than a case by case basis. If you shipped them by lots, then you need to have a base location, whare house type set up.

>

One step at a time - we would import only a few to start

>

>;You can buy the packaging already in the US, it would be generic, but still nice. Even if you wanted a custom type package it could be done.

>

I would expect the aids can be provided with English instructions and packaging- They sell these aids in small lots - we can even buy one.

>;

> I could be your contact on the other side or the world...

>
>But I don't think audiologist in the US are going to go for this plan.

>
>Why? A) you plan to dictate the margin levels of audiologist.



Only for these aids- They can change whatever they want for branded aids

>
> B) Your price, as I said before, would not even cause an Audi to blink. 600$ for a product that has no reputation, no previous marketing, no nothing.


$300 per aid $600 per pair
Someone look at the specs and tell me is they are worth it. also- fyi their cheapest digital BTE is $100

>

> Sure you have the awesome web site, but other than the 10 folks that post here, so what.


They have the website not us. i am only suggesting them as a supplier

>

> Not only that, but location. Lets say you have a vendor in Tx, but someone is interesting in your particular product from ;Lisound in Ca, but you do not have a vendor in Ca.... then what?

>

I think I was not clear- Lisound is the manufacturer HOH Project is the importer and sells to audis all ouver the country from a central location
This is not a for profit buiness and cannot service the whole country from day one - would have to start small and local-

>

>Mail order? Sorry, you will have a hard time finding an Audi interesting in mail order hearing aids. We do have standards, or at least most do.


I lost you


>

> C) Lisound? I have heard of them, but I have not heard a lot of good about them.


have you heard bad about them?

>

> ; Any how, I don't want to rain on your idea... just pointing out some issues that would have to be resolved.


understand tks- i expected a downpour

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by AudBall on Fri Sep 8, 2006 5:07 pm
Paul,

If I remember correctly the owner had a relationship with Starkey, eventually left Starkey and went out on his own.

I have found that the English skills of Lisound is pretty bad. Far worse than mine, which does not bode well for potential buyers. Imagine reading about the product, and the information is in broken English, or not even in semi-correct English.... Who will take you serriously? Hey, it is something I have dealt with all my life, so I kinda have a lot of experience about this.

But those are some petty things. I can get more inside information around the end of October or so.


300$ USD

Those that really know how to do things can already get a 16 channel, 6 bands of compression with a one year waranty CIC, including shipping both ways for around 370$. What you do is set up a company, purchase face plates through one of the big 7, and sub-contract the assembly through a lab like Prairy Labs, Fisher Hearing, etc. The assembly co. warranties the product....

Simply put, your idea, can already be done, without any import/export hassels for around the same money.

So your price, still does not even cause a yawn.

You have to drive Lisounds prices down to around 10$ before things start to happen. An even then prices will still be in the 3 digit range once you have the build out & warranty fees, shipping fees, pakaging fees, marketting fees. Oh and there will be taxes... state taxes (unless your can prove you are a non profit organization), and you will have to have a license to sell hearing aids at the whole sale level (regardless of profit or non profit)l. That will cost you too.

Sorry Paul things have got to get a lot cheaper to get any better. As you can see from our little excercise... hearing aids are expensive.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Fri Sep 8, 2006 6:42 pm
>
> Simply put, your idea, can already be done, without any import/export hassels for around the same money.

>

> So your price, still does not even cause a yawn.

>

> You have to drive Lisounds prices down to around 10$ before things start to happen. An even then prices will still be in the 3 digit range once you have the build out & warranty fees, shipping fees, pakaging fees, marketting fees. Oh and there will be taxes... state taxes (unless your can prove you are a non profit organization), and you will have to have a license to sell hearing aids at the whole sale level (regardless of profit or non profit)l. That will cost you too.

>

> Sorry Paul things have got to get a lot cheaper to get any better. As you can see from our little excercise... hearing aids are expensive.



Ok lets forget everything else and talk specific numbers from an audi's point of view- - Tell us exactly how you would price a $300 aid and why. I am selling you a hearing aid for $300 - forget my expenses and talk about yours . You can tell us - no one knows who you are. ( And by the way what country are you in? )

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by AudBall on Fri Sep 8, 2006 7:33 pm
All good questions,

And as far as what country, lets just say I am in a good position to understand what is going on in the Asian hearing aid industry.

As far as what a 300$ product would fetch.

Ask Lou, he is in the Meca of hearing aids. Any time you see an add about ADRO, or a private label hearing aid, go check the hearing aid out, and check the features... compare apples to apples. This will give you a guideline as to what such products would retail for at an audiologist's/dealers office.


I would bet that AH is getting a 6 time mark up on material costs... but that is not pure margin, that is just a figure on material costs. I really have no way to guess there pure margin. I don't know their amount of sq. footage, employee costs and all the other many details that add to overhead, and detract from pure margin.

But I do like what you are thinking about.

I think the major issue is middle men. Frankly, Lisound is still a middle man. You would have to deal directly with a chip mfg. to get prices down even further.

It is just my modest/experienced opinion.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Fri Sep 8, 2006 8:08 pm
Well thanks for the input. I think my goals would be more modest and I need to keep things simple to get anything accomplished

I am not suggesting to get the price down by offering the cheapest possible aid to audiologists and have them take their usual mark up

I am trying to offer an inexpensive but good quality aid. It could be any brand but I doubt Siemens would agree to have their aids distributed this way. I think there is a chance Lisound would.

I am hoping that a few open minded audiologists would agree to sell them at a different but reasonable price structure - with services unbundled so the final HOH user would pay much less than they are forced to pay now.

I am hoping that the success of these few + the support and recommendations from this forum would encourage other audiologists to try it- as a separate part of their existing business

A customer comes in to an audiologists office and cannot or will not spend $2000 or more for a hearing aid. What does an audiologist have to offer? They could say here is an aid for maybe $500 or whatever including the initial adjustment (they paid $300) I will charge $75 ( or whatever) for earmolds and $50 (or whatever) for any future adjustments needed And by the way this aid and these prices are endorsed by a group of HOH advocates who distributr it throgh a non profit orgaqnization

Sounds worthwhile to me to both the audiologist and the client.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Fri Sep 8, 2006 7:06 pm
By the way the details on this $300 aid are as below- Can someone comment on the relative value? What would a branded aid with these feature sell for?
- 100% digital signal processing
- 4-channel WDR
- Programmable AGC-O output limiting
- 8-band graphic EQ
- 128-band adaptive noise reduction
- Adaptive feedback cancellation
- Adaptive noise reduction
- Programmable directional processing
- Programmable telecoil
- Direct audio input
- 3 programmable memories
- LDFR (level dependent frequency response)
- Power on delay
- Programmable audible memory indicator
- Low battery indicator
- Suitable for mild to profound hearing losses

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by AudBall on Fri Sep 8, 2006 7:46 pm
Looks like a good chip, looks like a Siemens Signia in some respects.

Looks like it is absolutley worthless without the proper marketing/distribution channels, and that is the fly in the ointment. There is where and when your costs start to sky rocket and spiral out of control.

But I think it could be done.

Sorry Paul, I have to run.... I really do like this topic.

Again, see what you could do to avoid LiSound. It is not that I have something against them. I just figure they are another "point of mark up" which is what you need to avoid.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Fri Sep 8, 2006 8:23 pm
>Again, see what you could do to avoid LiSound. It is not that I have something against them. I just figure they are another point of mark up which is what you need to avoid.


It could be any aid- and it sounds like you could be the guy to help us get them

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by Paul on Fri Sep 8, 2006 8:00 pm
Paul8,

What I like best about your proposal is the concept of forming a HOH not-for-profit co-op. IMHO, their is a real need for this type of thing. Even if this specific idea dosen't exactly play out, there may be other ways in which a co-op could be effective.

The part of the proposal that is most questionable to me is with the arranging for audiologists to sell the hearing aids. I am skeptical that we would find many audiologists who - being long accustomed to the huge profit margins associated with tjheir current practices - would ever consider selling HA's for a thin profit margin. Despite what some in this forum seem to maintain.., selling HA's cheap and/or getting as many HA's in the ears of the HOH is not the first priority of audiologists. (Speaking in general terms. I'm sure there are a few saints out there.) At any rate, I'd like to see this prospective co-op retain as much control as possible.

Brainstorming:
How about the coop itself selling the aids at the low-end prices you've mentioned? Then it's a matter of working out a business plan that finds partners to service and/or program the aids. (In other words, use the co-op to unbundle the typical HA transaction.)

Also, you might talk to Lisound about providing programming software. Or providing programming services via the Internet. Not that that would be for everyone. But I think the development of such would pay off.

Finally, if the co-op registered as a non-profit, perhaps they could partner with another non-profit agency that is trying to help the HOH, and which already has a physical presence in most local communities. Perhaps there could be walk-in centers where purchasers could get assistance programming their aids, etc.

I don't see why the shipping charges should be so high. Seems to me that a company should be able to ship 12 hearings aids, or 100 aids for that matter, at about the same cost as 1 or 2.

I like the idea of finding someone to trial these aids. By the way, what is their trial period and terms? I may have missed it but did not see it stated at the website.

This is all a little off the cuff but I thought I'd throw a few things out there to see if it leads to further discussion.

Thanks,

Paul (the other Paul)

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by mib on Fri Sep 8, 2006 8:10 pm
Some internet HA provider distribute their HA through participated local dispenser for the fix commission of $500 per aid for limited service period. So, there is your starting point. Be aware that those are brand names. What chance would nobrands have in the same audi's office? Don't tell me that they'll be couple hundreds dollars cheaper. That's not enough without reputation background, established service and honestly not much initiative or push from dispensers. You need to have something more. Im afraid, that idea of going thru traditional distr. channels with such offer is dead on arrival.
My suggestion - drop audis, add selfprogramming. Do what AH does but cheaper.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Fri Sep 8, 2006 8:59 pm
>Some internet HA provider distribute their HA through participated local dispenser for the fix commission of $500 per aid for limited service period. So, there is your starting point. Be aware that those are brand names. What chance would nobrands have in the same audi's office? Don't tell me that they'll be couple hundreds dollars cheaper. That's not enough without reputation background, established service and honestly not much initiative or push from dispensers. You need to have something more.


I am hoping
a) that these aids would be higher quality than currently available $500 aids . we need someone with the technical knowledge to evaluate them- so far see above comment from AudBall
b) that the endorsement of a non-profit group of HOH advocates carries some weight

Also don't forget I am not trying to compete with them or build a profitable venture- just to offer another alternative to those that need it

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Fri Sep 8, 2006 8:46 pm
> The part of the proposal that is most questionable to me is with the arranging for audiologists to sell the hearing aids. I am skeptical that we would find many audiologists who - being long accustomed to the huge profit margins associated with tjheir current practices - would ever consider selling HA's for a thin profit margin. Despite what some in this forum seem to maintain.., selling HA's cheap and/or getting as many HA's in the ears of the HOH is not the first priority of audiologists. (Speaking in general terms. I'm sure there are a few saints out there.) At any rate, I'd like to see this prospective co-op retain as much control as possible.

>

I hope to see a few saints step forward and try it and that their success leads to others . I agree that the profit motive will rule . One audiologist posted on this forum that when he lowered his prices his volume shot up and he had fewer returns . Unless we prove this is good business for the audiologists most will not try it .

> Brainstorming:

> How about the coop itself selling the aids at the low-end prices you've mentioned? Then it's a matter of working out a business plan that finds partners to service and/or program the aids. (In other words, use the co-op to unbundle the typical HA transaction.)

> Also, you might talk to Lisound about providing programming software. Or providing programming services via the Internet. Not that that would be for everyone. But I think the development of such would pay off.


Possibilities although I do think many people need and prefer having their aids programed face to face. I would have prefered it myself. I just bought an aid from Genesis and know as soon as I put it in my ear it had to go back for adjustment

>

> Finally, if the co-op registered as a non-profit, perhaps they could partner with another non-profit agency that is trying to help the HOH, and which already has a physical presence in most local communities. Perhaps there could be walk-in centers where purchasers could get assistance programming their aids, etc.


great idea
>

> I don't see why the shipping charges should be so high. Seems to me that a company should be able to ship 12 hearings aids, or 100 aids for that matter, at about the same cost as 1 or 2.


you are probably right -but don't forget they are coming from China. I did a quick guesstimate on the weight and checked the UPS site. I calculated based on 2 aids in one shipment. definitely it would be cheaper with more aids in one shipment

>

> I like the idea of finding someone to trial these aids. By the way, what is their trial period and terms? I may have missed it but did not see it stated at the website.


Terms are payment by wire transfer before shipment - normal for small volume international transactions

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Fri Sep 8, 2006 9:22 pm
>
> Brainstorming:

> How about the coop itself selling the aids at the low-end prices you've mentioned? Then it's a matter of working out a business plan that finds partners to service and/or program the aids. (In other words, use the co-op to unbundle the typical HA transaction.)

>

> Also, you might talk to Lisound about providing programming software. Or providing programming services via the Internet. Not that that would be for everyone. But I think the development of such would pay off.

>


Paul & Mib another point - selling the aids ourselves or offering self programming requires hiring staff and development of a full blown business with associated overhead not to mention the investment and liability. All this has to be done before hearing aid #1 is sold. A trading company that just imports and reships to an existing distribution network of audiologists is a much easer low budget, low risk and low manpower operation. Hell, I could do it part time from my office. As I said in my original post we can start now if we can find an audiologist to work with.
I think we need to keep it as simple as possible to have a chance for success.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by AudBall on Sat Sep 9, 2006 7:12 am
I'd be willing to intertain a remote audiologist position. Me living out here, I sure don't require much in fees compared to what things are in the US.

Yes, I am current in all licenses's in the US.

I like what MIB said, the key is to do what AH does, but cheaper.

I know of a co. that has been doing remote adjusting long before AH has been doing it, so I doubt there would be any patent issues they could claim on, if they were to be used as a HA/face plates source.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by Lawman on Sat Sep 9, 2006 9:51 am
Paul,

One thing that needs to be thought about is how to handle the return of HAs during the trial period. I think that all states require a minimum of a 30 day trial period. I am unaware how audis or internet sellers handle returns, but I don't think that they are suppose to sell returned HAs and either the audi or the internet seller has to figure the cost of returned aids into the equation in some matter. Who is going to stand what part of the cost when HAs are returned during the trial period????

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by AudBall on Sat Sep 9, 2006 9:56 am
Ching Ching, the costs just went up some more.

It aint easy is it? This project does not even carry the burden of RND either... imagine if it did.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by Ed@Lake on Sat Sep 9, 2006 12:00 pm
The proper price for the specs posted is less than $140 FOB South,China. Note the lack of directional mikes.

Sorry Paul8, the hearing aid business is not for amateurs like us. It is a dog eat dog tough competative business behind a medical veneer. Audiologists are human and they have to put food on the table and the kids through college. Why should they work just as hard to sell a $300 aid and make $100 when they can sell a $3000 one and make $1000 or more.

As I have said so many times, the proper way to put low cost aids on the USA market is to eliminate the FDA classification as Medical Devices...Then the sharp guys in R&D and manufacturing and in
mass retailing will do the rest. Ed

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Sat Sep 9, 2006 12:24 pm
I know there is the issue of returns and also the issue of repairs . We would have to discuss this with the manufacturer.
I am sure a returned aid does not get discarded - I noticed this China manufacturer sells the shells as a separate item. I am guessing the electronics are put in a new shell and repackaged but it would be nice to have someone who knows join this discussion. I am not sure how repairs are handled by the brands - If I buy an aid from an audiologist and it needs repair in the warranty period what happen?- Does it get sent to the manufacturer or a local shop authorized by the manufacturer?

AudBall you are right --all this adds to the cost and it would not be easy .But you know as well as I that prices are higher than they need to be. I still would like to see an audiologist join the discussion and explain some of this as well as what they pay for a particular hearing aid and what do they sell it for.

We all know there is fat in HA prices - It is this fat we want to reduce . My audiologists charge $2400 for a Centra Life that Genesis sells for $1500. I have quoted the before before but will quote it again . To me it not only confirms that the prices are higher than they need to be but also that lowering prices is good business

posted by GAaudiologist on Thu Aug 3, 2006 8:45 pm
Being new to the board, I have read many interesting posts about frustrations, and or dislike with experiences with Audiologists.

I do agree that something needs to change in our industry. I think that we have over priced hearing aids for many years. I also believe that corporate greed is killing the hearing aid industry. The big chains- Audibel, miracle ear, beltone, all sell hearing aids that are somewhat overpriced. Some dealers are better than other, but they limited by what the corporate structure dictates prices.

I am in the minority, I work for an ENT who is not corporate owned, and does not believe that we need jack up our prices on all our products. The doctor and I sat down 3 years ago and decided that we need to change our approach with our hearing aid sales. We lowered our prices, and tried to work with our patient's needs the best we can. As a result, it has incredibly successful Our sales are up, and are returns are way down

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by mib on Sat Sep 9, 2006 1:37 pm
by Paul8 > Paul & Mib another point - selling the aids ourselves or offering self programming requires hiring staff and development of a full blown business with associated overhead not to mention the investment and liability. All this has to be done before hearing aid #1 is sold.>

You're right, you need to have initial investment, attractive product, knowledgeable stuff and thoroughly developed business plan. Another word, you're looking at least of a mortgage of a house (and I mean very good house) and partnership with established HA lab.


by Paul8 > A trading company that just imports and reships to an existing distribution network of audiologists is a much easer low budget, low risk and low manpower operation.>

This option looks like minimum investment with minimum control of a product and choices. And relying on existing Distribution Network will be the Hardest Part of all. You'll be spat out from the moment you'll try to enter it. Common Paul, how would you react if somebody would come up with a similar project in your industry?

Anyway, after all what was said before, the idea of new product opportunity is not impossible. Its next to impossible. The dramatic changes in well established industries were brought before successfully by new innovative ventures, when corporations were self-indulged in doing "business as usual". You just have to wait for the right time at the "curve" to make you run. And I think the time is now for those who are confident and in control of all INs and OUTs.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Sat Sep 9, 2006 2:12 pm
Ok I'm not going to beat a dead horse.

We know there are a supply sources in China and that decent aids can be purchased for maximum $300 and possibly as little as $140.

Let's forget about changing the industry. Can we find 1 audiologist in the United States who would be willing to program them and sell them to members of this forum at a reasonable price?

If we can't accomplish that I give up

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by AudBall on Sat Sep 9, 2006 8:58 pm
We have one Audiologist on this forum that has stated that he and his ENT have decided to drop prices, increase volume, and his Case load has gone up, volume of sales have gone up.... but he also stated he earns around 50K a year, which is the avg. for most audi's that have been working for 7-10 years. So this fellow, bless his heart, works more, and earns the same.

So give a person an option, work more to earn the same, or work less and earn the same, I think most folks will choose the last option.

Now, someone stated that if a person simply refused to pay 2K for a hearing aid, then they could then have the option to purchase a HOH project hearing aid. So now we are asking an audi to work for less, just because a person simply refuses to pay. There is a difference between refuse, and can not afford.

I can afford a BMW, I just refuse to buy one.... Truth is, I don't even have a car! I could turn on the AC., I could afford to pay the bill, but I refuse to do so, and I use a fan instead.

But to ask BMW to drop their prices, or work for less because I refuse to pay their price is the wrong way to go about things.

Now, if a person could not truly afford a 2000 hearing aid, there are cheaper options. Or that individual could take alternative routes such as govt. support, which is out there.

So I fail to see the incentive or the reason an audi should be asked, or required to work for less.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by mib on Sat Sep 9, 2006 9:09 pm
by Paul8: " Let's forget about changing the industry. Can we find 1 audiologist in the United States who would be willing to program them and sell them to members of this forum at a reasonable price?"

Yes we can find 1 audi in US who would be willing to sell them for at least $800. But he (she) also would need a tech support from you as well. Make sure he's located on East Coast. Apparently West Coast residents can drive across to Mexico and buy there Chinese made aids for $300 a pair. Or another choice is AH $1200 aid with remote programming or self-programming ability.

Look Paul, you came up with an idea and asked for feedbacks. You've received couple of posts with the dose of reality and now you're ready to give up. Do you think that you're the first one who thought to find a niche in this field? A lot of people who worked in the industry for many years found that the only way to break through in present state of affairs is direct sale via internet. And the best model seems to be employed by AH, not the perfect one though.

You said that you are dead serious. So, consider every opinion you've received so far, do the research and come back with better plan and business recourses. Implementing ideas is a process of continuously adapting those ideas to reality. What is the most people on this forum see is the best solution for better product choices and prices? It's a change of mentality and the legal structure of the HA business. You're, on the other hand, proposing to form a Coop and buy those damn aids for near wholesale prices plus usual markup for fitting adjustments. Who knows, maybe you are better visionary.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by AudBall on Sat Sep 9, 2006 10:02 pm
As I give this thought, it seems to me the best way is the AH way. But ofcourse you have to do it in a cheaper manner than they do.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Sun Sep 10, 2006 8:28 am
>

> What is the most people on this forum see is the best solution for better product choices and prices? It's a change of mentality and the legal structure of the HA business.



And how do you expect that to happen?. That is a great dream but not a solution. If my ideas won't work fine . As I said I have no experience in this industry. I was hoping to develop a positive discussion as in (the other) Paul's post instead of more posts about why nothing can be done

>

>So, consider every opinion you've received so far, do the research and come back with better plan and business recourses.


There is more than enough expertise on this forum.
You are an inelligent guy and I have heard bitter complaints from you on this forum. If you want to tell me I am wrong and present positive specific ideas I am willing to listen and learn. But don't just tell me I am wrong and go do some research and come back to you with a business plan

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:07 am
>

>from Paul ( the other Paul)

>Finally, if the co-op registered as a non-profit, perhaps they could partner with another non-profit agency that is trying to help the HOH, and which already has a physical presence in most local communities. Perhaps there could be walk-in centers where purchasers could get assistance programming their aids, etc.


Does anyone have knowledge of existing agencies with a presence in local communities?

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by mib on Sun Sep 10, 2006 11:05 am
by Paul8 > "And how do you expect that to happen?. That is a great dream but not a solution. If my ideas won't work fine . As I said I have no experience in this industry. I was hoping to develop a positive discussion as in (the other) Paul's post instead of more posts about why nothing can be done"
"There is more than enough expertise on this forum.
You are an inelligent guy and I have heard bitter complaints from you on this forum. If you want to tell me I am wrong and present positive specific ideas I am willing to listen and learn. But don't just tell me I am wrong and go do some research and come back to you with a business plan" >

Sorry for misunderstanding Paul. I didn't mean that you have to report to me. I was figuratively speaking about improving, readjusting, researching and reapplying any idea to those who you are offering them to (not me).

As far as my opinion concerns, I don't know what you want me to say and I don't actually have an opinion fitted for every individual liking. Im not an expert either. I analyzed your proposal and presented my views, not knowing that "positive discussion" means that we all have to respond with "Yeah' lets do it!" And I didn't insult you either.

AAMOF I did present you an alternative too, which you seemingly disregarded(??) I believe, that most of the other responders agreed with me that self-programming and direct sale is the way to go, and relying on traditional dispensing route is just a dream. So why am I a bad guy, again? I guess, because Im "Bitter". Lets just thank all of those who've never responded to your proposal at all for their perceived support. Well, Im out of here. Good luck with only "positive" responses.

Strange, I feel like I need to speak to AudBall now. May be on another post.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to AudBall
posted by mib on Sun Sep 10, 2006 11:39 am
Hey, how're you doing special agent AudBall. Did you hear what's happened? Im out of the Project. I like your reporting from unknown location. I think you have very fresh and realistic output on opportunity to sell cheap chinese aids to not-so-rich americans with quality american fitting services.

Are you willing to be the one and only Fitting Personality and take up that challenge for Project-I. Of course, you have to move back to US, take that $50.000 per year job and fooorget about your BMW dreams. Or you can join with me in Project-II (A.K.A. America Hears - Hear Us Now), remain undercover, wherever you are, providing remote programming and occasional comments on this board. You would need to mortgage your tent, in which you live now, for initial investment.

Sorry Paul, no pun was intended toward you. I just couldn't help to have a little pow-meow session with my old audi-pal and tried to be not bitter... I can't reveal his real name though, he's on the mission.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to AudBall
posted by jeff1014 on Sun Sep 10, 2006 12:30 pm
Hey MIB, is it too late for me to join Project II?

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to AudBall
posted by mib on Sun Sep 10, 2006 3:47 pm
by Jeff1014: "Hey MIB, is it too late for me to join Project II?"


Sorry pal, its limited partnership. But wait, let me talk to AudBall, see what I can do for you. Are you aware that they have now opening in Project I? Not interested?

P.S. Its done, you're in. Just bring your house with you.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Sun Sep 10, 2006 1:53 pm

>

> As far as my opinion concerns, I don't know what you want me to say and I don't actually have an opinion fitted for every individual liking. Im not an expert either. I analyzed your proposal and presented my views, not knowing that "positive discussion" means that we all have to respond with "Yeah' lets do it!" And I didn't insult you either.

>

I don't feel insuted at all and I hope you don't feel I insulted you-
Positive means constructiive . for the 6th time I have no problem with disagreement

> AAMOF I did present you an alternative too, which you seemingly disregarded(??) I believe, that most of the other responders agreed with me that self-programming and direct sale is the way to go, and relying on traditional dispensing route is just a dream.


disregarded? I just don't agree that it is possible - read again
by Paul8 Paul & Mib another point - selling the aids ourselves or offering self programming requires hiring staff and development of a full blown business with associated overhead not to mention the investment and liability. All this has to be done before hearing aid #1 is sold.>

by MIB You're right, you need to have initial investment, attractive product, knowledgeable stuff and thoroughly developed business plan. Another word, you're looking at least of a mortgage of a house (and I mean very good house) and partnership with established HA lab.


Hey look- I had an idea that I thought might be executable- if not with an existing network of audiologists then maybe with an existing charitable or nonprofit organization . If my idea stinks fine- You don't have to agree with me & you are quite welcome to ridicule -Enjoy yourself I won't be insulted-
You can have the final word

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by mib on Sun Sep 10, 2006 3:36 pm
by Paul8: "I was hoping to develop a positive discussion as in (the other) Paul's post instead of more posts about why nothing can be done"

It simply means that you don't want to hear negative opinions about your proposal.

"Positive means constructiive . for the 6th time I have no problem with disagreement"

And now, you've contradicted yourself.


Look Paul, I didn't encourage or discourage you. You asked for opinions, I gave you mine. You took it as negative. Fine. I didn't just said "Its sucks" or "Its rubbish". I think, I took a little bit of effort to analyze it and to present to you with "Cons" and "Pros" of Reality Check. You don't think it was constructive? But it definitely wasn't positive as you defined it.

"I just don't agree that it is possible - read again"

Now that was interesting. Many companies sell aids directly over the internet now and AH even with self programming option. And you "don't agree that it is possible". I know, I know what you meant:
"A trading company that just imports and reships to an existing distribution network of audiologists is a much easer low budget, low risk and low manpower operation. Hell, I could do it part time from my office."
Yeah, low budget, low profile just sit at home (office) and redirect the traffic thru unavailable to you distribution routes. In this case, its very amateurish way to think that you can bring salvation to HOH.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by AudBall on Sun Sep 10, 2006 6:51 pm
Mortgage my tent Eh....

MIB it would not be necessary. Besides, I do not even have a tent, and technically I don't even own a single asset. I am pure liquid.

Anyhow,

Paul8, sorry to see your thoghts and ideas getting drug through the trash. You heart was/is in the right place, it is just some folks would rather see others fail.

Anyhow, it is simple really, AH can afford to do what they do due to their selling over the net, meeting the masses. Hearing aids can already be bought cheap, via private labelling. HA mfg's have done their best to develop their names to prevent folks from using private labels through marketing, and a lot of vendors are fooled by it.

But lets face it.... the genearal public has never heard of phonak, you could sell the genearl public a private lable called MicTone and they wouldn't know the difference. I don't mean offload junk on the public, I mean the product mfg. does not matter. It is the service, and the sound quality that makes a difference.

Marchon, Sonus, AudiBell, Belltone, MiracleEar are all examples of private labels and they are still alive today.

Anyhow, I let you mull things over.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by Paul on Sun Sep 10, 2006 7:19 pm
Paul8,

Participating in this forum isn't always easy. However, I appreciated that you developed an actual idea or proposal, and started a thread on it.

In terms of non-profit organizations that may be working for the benefit of the HOH, and which have local offices throughout the US..... I know of someone I can contact for that type of information. I'll try to remember to call them tomorrow. Regardless of what direction or end your specific proposal might lead, it'd be interesting to see what is out there.

There are huge obstacles to making any kind of dent in the hearing aid marketplace. I think a better role for HA advocates may be to educate and influence the players who are already at the table. (For profit businesses, not for profit entities, government agencies and, most importantly, the HOH.) For example, I believe that most HA consumers would be floored to know how cheaply high quality HA's are being manufactured. If they were aware, they would probably be outraged and there would probably be a lot more impetus for change.

I think Ed is absolutely correct in stating that the classification of HAs as medical devices is at the core of the problem. Unfortunately, I don't see any real hope for that to change anytime soon. I'm not even aware of a single organization that is pushing for that type of change. (Maybe there is, but I don't know of it.) However, I don't believe that just throwing up our hands is the way to go. I like the idea of doing whatever can be done to improve the situation. Ideas and initiatives are needed. So, thanks again for your contribution(s).

One thing that your idea highlighted, in my view, is that the "bundling" of hearing aids and hearing aids services is just killing the HOH. Not referring to a "ripoff" element in saying this but just from the standpoint of keeping consumers in the dark as to the true cost of HAs.

Take care,

Paul (The other Paul again)

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by AudBall on Sun Sep 10, 2006 7:25 pm
Again folks, this excersise in a remote way has shown why hearing aid cost so much. It is not the material costs, it is getting the product out to the vendor, and then out to the public that is costing so much.

It isn't like audis are making a huge fortune off of hearing aids.

Sure the public can get outraged if they like, but when you have a leader that can send a country to war under false pretenses... you think the HA cost revelation would do anything? I don't. Besides, there is no conspiracy, it is an expensive process, unfortunatley.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by jeff1014 on Sun Sep 10, 2006 7:59 pm
I wasn't going to get involved in this, but after Audballs last post I can't resist. Audball stated one of the problems and reasons for high cost is getting the produst to the vendor??????? I don't understand that logic. I got my aids in less than 3 days. In many instances the food on my table is less than 2 days old and other is a bit older. I am able to go to the store and by things from around the world for a cost that I can't hardly believe. How much did it cost for my aids to be delivered? Probably less than $15 and that includes insurance. Maybe what Audball is talking about is technology. Most of the cutting edge technology is in the chip I bet. Who is paying for the development of the chips. The chip manufacturer in most cases. You might say the market is limited by the number of users. I say bull to that. These marvelous chips are in more things than just hearing aids, you can bet on that. Lets take a moment to look at private label aids. Miraclear is made by hmmm, I believe SEIMENS. Miraclear ges ahold of it and jacks the price as much as in excess $1,000!!! Belltone.Who makes their product. I have a complete, cutting edge computer system in front of me that contains a hell of a lot more chips than my hearing aid and it cost LESS than one of my aids!!! Audball I think you need to take a course in economics(not to mention reality) The reason why HA cost so darn much in most cases is just plane greed. America Hears is making plenty of money yet they are still able to offer a quality product for less than most other manufacturers. Hearing aids are classified as a medical device yet in most cases are not covered by insurance. Why? Answer that one Audball.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Sun Sep 10, 2006 8:29 pm
from Paul
>
> ... the 'bundling' of hearing aids and hearing aids services is just killing the HOH. Not referring to a 'ripoff' element in saying this but just from the standpoint of keeping consumers in the dark as to the true cost of HAs.


>from AudBall
> Again folks, this excersise in a remote way has shown why hearing aid cost so much. It is not the material costs, it is getting the product out to the vendor, and then out to the public that is costing so much.

I think both of you are right . OK- I also will agree it may be naive to think we can change the industry . But I find it hard to believe that we so helpless that we can't at least take a baby step . At least find one person who would be willing to program the aids for members of this forum - If the aid costs somewhere from $140 to $300 and we find an audiologist to program an audiologist report and click the best fit button for $100 then someone gets a good aid for $240-$400 . But for that price they don't get the wonderfull service & unlimited adjustments. They would have to find a local audiologist to do it or if not possible they could send it back to the original guy for a fee. Trial period? Repairs? I don't know - maybe something can be worked out with the manufacturer.
What would we have accomplished ? A baby step - just one more alternative for a few people to the current system.
Will it spread? Who knows? Maybe not but I would not underestimate what the suggestions and referals in this forum + some good PR would do. A HOH group takes matters into their own hands & starts providing good $400 HA's becuse they are fed up with an overpriced market . I think it would get the attention of a few people - If not, so what?. At least you have done something for the few that find you.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by AudBall on Sun Sep 10, 2006 9:22 pm
By getting the product to the vendor.... I did not mean delivery, and I apologize if that was not clear. What I meant is marketing costs to get a vendor to purchase of carry a particular product.

Trust me Jeff I have been doing this for a while now. I do realize DHL costs are not the real issue here.


Hearing aids are classified as a medical device yet in most cases are not covered by insurance. Why? Answer that one Audball.


Ask your ENT, the person with the real power that question. That is the last bastion of out of pocket glory an ENT has. Do you think he/she is going to give that up?


Paul8,

As you know I am builiding a 3K sf training facility, would would not take much to turn this thing into a true remote facility. Staff everything, here in this country, you could for sure beat AH prices out here.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Mon Sep 11, 2006 7:59 am
>

>

> As you know I am builiding a 3K sf training facility, would would not take much to turn this thing into a true remote facility. Staff everything, here in this country, you could for sure beat AH prices out here.


It is a great idea and I would be happy to do what I can to help but I do not have the resources either in market knowledge or finances to make it happen. If you or anyone else want to discuss ideas off line email me at hohproject@comcast.net

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by jeff1014 on Mon Sep 11, 2006 8:04 am
OK Audbal, now that I understand that the costs of getting the product to the vendor is advertising costs I understand your statement. I also understand your calssification of vendor to mean audi. One more clarification I need to be sure we are on the page is this. I believe the people on this forum are more than average old retired farts that many younger people think seasoned people are.(seasoned, how's that for an euphemism for old fart:) lol) That being said I think we here are fairly well educated. I have found that people who have fought in armed battles, have education or who are well off financially do not talk aout it. There is a reason for that. Those people don't feel they have anything to prove. They have already proved it to the only person that matters. America Hears in a way puts into perspective the need/expertise of an audiologist. I am in no way suggesting that an audiologist is not needed. I am saying however, that in many cases, the only need for an audiologist is to perform the hearing test. Having said that audball, why don't you develop a computer program which would allow a person to self administer a hearing test, send the audiogram to a manufacturer of their own choice, get their aid made and sent back to them along with the sofware needed to tune the aid. If you were to do that, I would jump on that wagon. Once again, I say that this would not work for everyone, but on the other hand it sure wouldn't hurt those who would want to try it out.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by Lawman on Mon Sep 11, 2006 8:07 am
Paul8,
Some thoughts on a business plan....the goal is to get good hearing aids at low prices to as many people as possible. If you look at who is providiing HAs now at the lowest cost, it is the internet providers....America Hears, Genesis Labs, Hearpod, etc. Their business model is apparently working, which is sales over the internet with programming at their facility. They do not provide the same hand holding that some HOH may need, but they are meeting the needs of a lot of HOH and at a lower cost. While some may scoff, HearPod is selling aids at $395, $495 and $695 and satifying a number of people. Another internet formum lists their aids as the best entry digital aid and we know the praise that America Hears receives. There will always be a large number of consumers that need the additional services of a local audi and those people are going to have to pay more for those personal services,(bundled or unbundled) but an internet audi programming HAs to "best fit" audigrams is going to reach a lot more HOH who may not need all that personal service. There is a need and a place for both type of providers.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, it seems that one should consider the model that these internet companies are using. They are reaching many more HOH than the local audi in the corner store. Audball has convinced me that going with local audis would be a very difficult propostion.

Many businesses carry more than one brand and in fact most factories produce branded and private label products. Would it not make sense to at least try to get one of these existing internet companies to carry a HA that might be built to meet the specifications of the non profit corporation that you are suggesting? It might be programmed for best fit at the factory like HearPod or it might even provide software like America Hears, but it would carry the logo and recommendation of the HOH non profit corporation. It would be sold and serviced by an existing internet company which could sell and service it from their existing facility. They might or might not be interested in such an arrangement, but again, many companies operate out of the same location with each company providing a slightly different service than the other.

There are many different scenerios that can exist with such arrangments just as there are many franchise arrangements with different businesses today. Some provide only the name and standards that have to be met in return for a fee, while others provide the equipment, standards and prices that must be met in return for payment of the supplies plus a franchise fee.

Sometimes it is much easier to look at existing successful companies and try to follow their model or latch onto their coat tails rather than building from scratch.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by mib on Mon Sep 11, 2006 9:36 am
Paul8, let me get this straight. For a while you was insisting on the possibility of distributing aids thru traditional dispensing channels, emotionally defending that idea against my "negative" evaluation of it and my support for direct sale and self programming. And now, according to your latest post, you seems to be offering "negative" proposition yourself for just "one audi", as I understand for initial programming only and then "do your adjustment wherever you want or send back to us". Wow, what a switch. Did I miss something, when did you declared that you are changing projects?

How is that different from others internet direct providers, except, of course that you don't intend to have any home based lab and tech. personnel. I believe that SmartShopper already purchased his HearPod aids on-line for about $500-$600 a piece and seems to be very happy with them. I just dont to follow your logic.

So now, the main cornerstone of your original Project - "necessity for personal face to face fitting" has gone, you seems to be ready to join the Project II. Just needs to have one more aspect - self-adjusting. I don't know Audball, do we have room for one more partner? Actually you don't have to rely on AudBall misleading "expert" opinion. Remember, he's Liquid. And his posting just as liquid as he is. In some of them he agrees with my assessment of AH model for dispensing and on others he gives full ahead to your original Project.

Yes Paul, your heart is on the right place, but your head needs some cooling to do. You are making believe that Im standing along against your "great" Project. Read others posts, read what Ed said, read what Lawman posted. Stop being an amateur in a big league, stop reinventing a wheel.
Pinch me, am I in Wonderland or its true that our next Hearing Aid will come from the Fashion District.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Mon Sep 11, 2006 11:18 am
>

> Stop being an amateur in a big league, stop reinventing a wheel.

> Pinch me, am I in Wonderland or its true that our next Hearing Aid will come from the Fashion District.


you know mib I said I let you have the last word but I just have to make a couple of comments

Language like this causes many of the posts on this forum to degenerate into a personal argument . It also inhibits others from expressing their opinion. Why would they want to subject themselves to insult and ridicule? I asked in my initial post that everyone at least show respect. If you cannot do so please do not participate.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by mib on Mon Sep 11, 2006 11:38 am
by Paul8: "If my idea stinks fine- You don't have to agree with me & you are quite welcome to ridicule -Enjoy yourself I won't be insulted-"

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by paul8 on Mon Sep 11, 2006 10:27 am
Lawman
Thanks for a very well thought out and logical idea. Some questions

I could see you idea working better with a company like Genesis which does not seem to have an unbranded aid and is in a position to do the adjustments and some personal service. An unbranded aid that is cheaper than what they offer now and has the endorsement of this group might be attractive to them.

I am not very familiar with Hear Pod but I do see one good review on this forum. My understanding is that they will program it to your hearing loss but will not make any further adjustments—is that correct? The prices lead me to believe that they are already selling unbranded HA at the lowest possible price. I am not sure what our endorsement would mean . Would our aid be cheaper? Probably not Would it be better? I don’t know – . Yes if it had self programming that would be an advantage. But how do you provide an inexpensive hi-pro type programming box?
This may be a stupid question but if Hear Pod is already selling at these prices are we trying to solve a problem that does not exist?

As a new HA user I was bitterly disappointed at my audiologist's recommendation for $6000 worth of hearing aids. I thought I had no choice. Luckily I did some research. Now I am now comparing AH open fit with an open fit from Genesis. The best fit setting from both companies was way way off. I won’t go into detail but the AH adjustment was a lot more difficult for me than others have described (& I am computer savvy).Genesis tried to convince me that what I was hearing was normal. ( from my AH experience I knew it was not).

I was hoping here to come up with another solution but have not seen one audiologist step forward or even participate in this discussion- and they are the ones more threatened by the internet model. So now I am inclined to see the merit in your idea but based on my experience I am having problems getting excited about it – I’d like to hear what others have to say.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by Lawman on Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:11 pm
Paul8:

It seems to me that there are different business models right now that may be covering all of the bases. There is HearPod with a low cost digital entry level HA with little programming or service, but with a return period. This may be all some people want or all they are willing to pay. It may fit their need.

Then there is America Hears which provides its' own brand of HA, but with more service and the ability to self adjust if one so desires which many find very valuable. They have to charge more, but they are delivering more product and more service.
Then we have the internet providers who provide name brand HAs at low cost without face to face service. Some people think the low cost is a good trade off and do not need the face to face service, but do enjoy the lower cost.
Then there is the local audi who sells name brand HAs and provides full service, but at a greater cost. Some people need this service and must pay for it and the person providing it is entitled to compensation.

Is there room for another type of delivery system. I am not sure. The present providers may be providing us with HAs at a reasonable cost given their costs and overhead. If they are too high priced, I suspect that another company may start up and offer the same service for a lower cost.

I think that there might be a better opportunity to try to work with some existing company on a HA that carries an approval or recommendation. Just as an example, think of the sales that a company would have if AARP were to put their "seal of approval" on a hearing aid provided by XYZ. AARP does the same thing for insurance now. They could set the specifications that would have to met and would probably get a set amount for each aid sold, but I would expect that thousands would be sold with that "Recommended by AARP" Would a recommendation by HOH Advocates or some other name carry the same weight? Probably not, but it might carry some weight.

Just some thoughts.....

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by mib on Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:15 pm
I want to thank Lawman for finally delivering Paul8 Ideas to the right place. Some folks choose to go Detour for three days, instead of going through my Neighborhood within one day and eventually arriving to the same destination.

by Paul8: "I don't feel insuted at all and I hope you don't feel I insulted you-
Positive means constructiive . for the 6th time I have no problem with disagreement"

Paul, I didn't ridicule you in my original responses to your posting. You simply felt prejudice against any idea coming from my "bitter" mouth. So, that was you who made it personal from the start. Look where are you now, exactly in the same place where I was guiding you in the beginning.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by jeff1014 on Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:04 pm
This has been a quite entertaining thread. It has reminded me of my kids when they were growing up. The HA industry is in pretty sad shape from what I have learned and encountered. I don't want to blame a profession but much of the trouble comes directly from the vendors I think. They seem to be almost like snake oil saleman at times. I had one tell me I only needed a HA with one channel. I had another one, along with the receptionist, try to sell me aids that cost over 3,400 a piece. I had another one, this one was one that worked with my ENT, tell me she would only use one because it was the best in her opinion. No audiologist wanted to listen to what my complaints were and my desires. In the one trial I did before I got what I have now, the audiologist didn't want to tune the aids. The industry needs to be fixed and I think the fix needs to be from the top down. I think the online companies are doing as well as they are as a direct result of face to face meetings with audiologists. I know that there are many people that need the direct hands on aproach from an audi and I in no way am suggesting doing away with that.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by mib on Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:24 pm
I agree Jeff, its almost like universally accepted pitching, but some of them more creative than others. It always that "the best hearing aid for your hearing loss" is the most expensive one from the only one brand they sell. How about convincing "Trust ME", because they in business for billion of years. And the best one of all time, that he "doesn't sell hearing aids, he sells HEARING".

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by jeff1014 on Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:14 pm
Ahhh yes Mib. I also noticed that the audis I saw didn't even use the product they were selling, or even a competitor's. I really enjoyed being told how I could hear, but they didn't seem to want to hear from me how I could hear. Strange. What may be right for me, may not be right for everyone, and this applies to everything I think. So far America Hears has been right for me, but that doesn't mean they are the best for everone.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by AudBall on Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:35 pm
Umm

I hate to interupt the audi bashing thread...

But Paul8,

I would say Lawman has a good idea. Also, another concept would be, that if you were to form an organization, you could devote some of the money made from the sales of the product to the organization.... Create a web site, and show were and how the funds are being spent. If folks see that the co. is doing good things for a good cause, and was founded on good precepts, I think it would be a good form of advertising.

Just some thoughts.

It does not sound as if you folks need me, which is OK. It would take a lot more work to get things on this end to connect to things on that end. But I imagine one day, a co. like AH would do so, it would cut costs.

Currently today, due to the LASER shell technology, one of the big 7 mfg's only have two shell labs to support the world. They have one lab in MN USA, and another in Asia. The Asia lab takes care of all European orders and Asian orders....

Thie plan is to eventually shift all production to Asia.... as I predicted would happen years ago.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by ed121 on Mon Sep 11, 2006 6:17 pm
Couple of my half baked comments on this subject.

Price competition will no doubt heat up as more and more low cost production facilities in Asia receive FDA facility approval and more production becomes available for import. In a year or two or three I think you will see good quality 4 channel DSP/Hybrid aids available from many Asian sources, factory priced so they can be retailed in the USA for $200 to $300. They would most probably be sold retail by the Internet companies that are already selling Asian aids right now.

Eventually, would think that these low cost aids will be packaged with multiple size snap on molds and maybe some simple means of self programming.

Of course the damn dam would burst right now, if the antiquated FDA regulations were eliminated. Ed

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by AudBall on Mon Sep 11, 2006 6:26 pm
The facility does not need FDA aproval, basically they need to have good records, and there is not a clear cut defined deffinition of "good records" for the hearing aid industry. Which is good and bad. Good because it allows some window of lee-way, bad because some fellow at the FDA that wants to prove his position is needed, can come down hard, just on a whim without any real justification.

FYI,

about 7 years ago, there were two hearing aid vendors/hearing aid shops in China, now over 500.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by ed121 on Tue Sep 12, 2006 6:07 am
AudBall: Perhaps I am wrong but I am quite sure that the USA Customs Service will not allow aids into the USA without certification that the aids were manufactured in a FDA approved facility.

I thought one of the requirements for FDA approval was more than just good record keeping....I understood that the facility had to have engineering staff and adequate instrumentation to to final test the aids.....

Correct me if I am wrong on this. Though one Chinese mfg Emailed me the other day and said they thought they would need a month or so to get FDA approval and that they were waiting on the arrival of some test instruments needed. Ed

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by AudBall on Tue Sep 12, 2006 7:38 am

Ed,

Check the link below and ask yourself, Do you really want to get involved witht he HA mfg sector. I am not saying you are not bright enough... It is just a huge hassle.

http://www.fda.gov/foi/warning_letters/g3106d.htm


The truth is, if you really comply to all the laws, audiologist should register with the FDA if they simply add batteries to a hearing aid package. Because that may fall under "repackaging" the hearing aid. Pretty messed up.

I am not aware of what equipment the Chinese mfg's are speaking of. But I wish you luck ....

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by ed121 on Wed Sep 13, 2006 6:00 am
Based on reading between the lines of the warning letter from the FDA, it would appear that the Texas hearing aid retailer cited may be a rather shady fast buck operation.

Ed

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by AudBall on Wed Sep 13, 2006 7:12 am
No actually he was not, or is not. He had or has an operation by which a client had a choice, they could buy Brand name or private label that was (depending on the model) the same as the Brand name product. So the client had a choice, either pay more for a name, or pay less for a private label that had the same technology. If the client chose the cheaper option, the product was fabricated in house in a matter of hours, and they could pick it up the same day. They also had a window "drop off" for hearing aids in need of repair. Basically speedy customer care, with inexpensive options was the foundation of the business.

I don't know how they are doing today, I hope just fine.

But Ed, the FDA wanted to know why they had switched UV suppliers, and they wanted recorded results of the out come of such action! How dumb is that?

That is why I said, the guide lines are vagure, and guidelines that fit other medical devices do not apply to the Hearing aid industry. What other medical device can be returned within 30 days? How does a company then deal with that. The FDA wants to know why was it returned, was it defective? What have you done as a company to avoid these defective products???? A huge hassle.

Any ways, good luck to you.

Subject :  Re: HOH Project- a serious proposal to make HA's affordable
posted by ed121 on Wed Sep 13, 2006 12:47 pm
AudBall OK now I understand the problem.

Repeating myself: As long as the FDA treats in the ear audio amplifiers that are marked "Hearing Aids" as Medical Devices it generates tons of paperwork. I guess, so the bureaucrats can justify their jobs.

If you sell the same audio amplifiers marked as Hunters Ears you can avoid all this mess. But hoh don't buy Hunter's Ears. They buy Medical Devices with quasi-medical services. Oh well....Ed

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