Our Response to Radio National’s Background Briefing on Audiologists

This morning, Radio National broadcast a repeat of their report on Audiologists, stating many conflict of interests in the hearing industry.

Naturally, many hearing aid wearers would be highly alarmed by some of the issues discussed in the program.  The practices of the Audiologist at Pittwater Hearing differ significantly from those discussed in the program.  Here we outline our key differences:

  • One key point that the Background Briefing program failed to mention, was that most hearing aid providers in Australia employ a combination of Audiologists and Audiometrists to provide services.  Audiologists have postgraduate qualifications in Audiology, which include diagnosing the part of the auditory pathway causing hearing loss, and referring to Ear Nose and Throat specialists appropriately. This is in addition to thorough training in hearing rehabilitation using a range of devices, not just hearing aids.   Audiometrists complete a 2 year part time TAFE course which focuses on Pure Tone Audiometry and Hearing Aid Fitting.  Pittwater Hearing only employs Audiologists.
  • Pittwater Hearing is not owned by a Hearing Aid company, but owned by an independent Audiologist.  Emma van Wanrooy has chosen to set up her own practice to enable her to apply her Audiological skills and experience in a way that is ethical and abides by the code of ethics as set out by Audiology Australia.
  • Our audiologist does not receive commissions or rewards for recommending a particular hearing aid.  While at times, we receive support from a hearing aid company in terms of equipment or marketing, this will be disclosed to clients during hearing aid discussions. Discounted hearing aid prices are passed on to the consumer.
  • We don’t sell $12000 hearing aids.  Our most expensive hearing rehabilitation package (including hearing aids) is approximately $9000 for two hearing aids, hearing assessment and ongoing review and rehabilitation for 3 years. Unlike a lot of other providers of hearing aids who use more of a standard retail % mark up on cost price, our pricing structure is built around the cost of providing a suitable hearing rehabilitation program, and adding this to the cost price of the hearing aid needed by an individual client to meet their listening needs.
  • We don’t recommend top of the range hearing aids to all clients.  Rather, we look at the listening needs of each client, and recommend a hearing device that has features that will assist them in meeting these needs.
  • We can afford to keep our prices lower, because as a small independent Audiology practice, we have lower overheads.  In addition, we don’t provide “free hearing tests”. All hearing assessments are performed on a fee basis with medicare rebates available on appropriate referrals. This means that our hearing aid users are not subsidising the cost of providing free hearing assessments to other clients with exorbitant prices for hearing aids .  It also means that we are putting value on all aspects of what we do, charging for all audiological services, rather than charging for hearing aid sales.
  • Our key interest is in practising good Audiology.  We provide a range of services, including full diagnostic Audiological Assessments, and hearing assessments for all ages from 8 months of age.  We also provide advice about other hearing solutions, including Cochlear Implants, Bone Anchored Hearing Aids, assistive listening devices and hearing rehabilitation programs.

If you still have concerns or questions about services from Audiologists, please don’t hesitate to contact us.