Editor's Message: The Importance of a Multi-Pronged Patient Acquisition Strategy

Author: Brian Taylor, Au.D.

It’s easy to see that behemoths like Amazon, which combines online shopping, low prices and speedy delivery, are utterly transforming the customer experience. Along with Amazon, however, many smaller companies such as Dollar Shave Club and Stitch Fix are also getting in on the action by offering a convenient, hassle-free product at a reasonable price.

What does this rise of web-based subscription-based services portend for audiologists?

We can agree that every customer - no matter what they are buying - likes quality and convenience at a lower-than-expected price. As Thales Teixeira suggests in his insightful book, Unlocking the Customer Value Chain, once customers experience a better buying experience with one good or service, they are more likely to embrace this better, often non-traditional buying experience with other completely unrelated goods and services. Take, for example, DoorDash, a food delivery service that makes it easy for customers to get meals from their favorite restaurant delivered straight to their door. It could be only a matter of time before an increasingly larger number of customers expect similar convenience when buying health-related products, like hearing aids.

As Teixeiera astutely illustrates, disruptive businesses are always on the lookout for consumer pain points and they will use modern technology (smartphone apps, wi-fi, credit card transactions) to find a gap in the market to create value for customers (and revenue for themselves). For audiologists, one of the potentially overlooked parts of disruptive innovation is that new companies could make the traditional customer acquisition process more convenient for persons seeking help for their hearing. Arguably, we are already seeing that now with the rise of on-line hearing aid retailers (Listen Lively) and Medicare Advantage contractors.

These upstart business models could force audiologists to adapt their traditional linear business model, in which they control the entire value creation process from acquisition to annual follow-up, to a more blended approach where audiologists partner with other outside companies in the customer acquisition process. And, in return for acquiring new customers, some of the revenue generated from the transaction is, in turn, shared. This issue of AP addresses how one such disruptive business model, managed care contracts, requires some difficult trade-offs if audiologists want to meet the needs of a larger segment of the rapidly aging population.