Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Other Engine

Author: Brian Taylor, Au.D.

This issue of Audiology Practices is devoted to “alternative revenue streams”. As most of us learned early in our career, revenue from the sale of hearing aids, audiological/vestibular assessments and associated services is the engine that runs our business. Without a consistent number of hearing aid sales and audiological/vestibular assessments each month our business will sputter and eventually crash. For this reason it is important that we continually monitor our key performance indicator dashboard and fine tune our business engine in order to keep it running smoothly and efficiently.

There are good reasons, however, for any business to slightly detour from their core revenue generators. For example, many physicians are feeling the crunch of lower reimbursement rates and the associated burden of dealing with third party reimbursement red tape. Some physicians have taken a keen interest in alternative revenue streams, which bring additional cash revenue to their practice often with minimal investment in fixed costs. Cosmetic surgery, sleep labs and hearing aids services are three examples of alternative revenue streams that have grown in popularity with otolaryngologists. Because of the seasonality of the hearing aid business in many markets and relatively low market penetration rate combined with an industry that has a very generous return-for-credit privilege, audiologists are encouraged to explore alternative revenue streams for their own practices. These alternative revenue sources can help smooth out the bumps in the road caused by any sudden downturn in the core revenue generators of any practice.

Several patient services, which have the potential to supply a private practice or clinic with an alternative source of revenue, are explored in this issue of AP. Dr. Marshall Chasin makes a business case for providing services to musicians and audiophiles. Dr. Rita Chaikin discusses the details surrounding cerumen removal services. Additionally, Dr. Indira Alvarez and Dr. Nancy Green do a splendid job of outlining forensic and industrial audiology respectively. Unfortunately, not every possible alternative source of revenue is mentioned in this issue. I will leave it up to you to explore off-the-beaten path.

Like any other new business initiative, alternative revenue streams have the potential to distract us from the core priorities of our practice, which are usually audiological/vestibular assessments and hearing aid services. A careful analysis of revenue per clinic hour, market demand for a particular service and start-up costs must be considered before taking time away from the core of your business. However, if you are passionate about a certain subspecialty, like Dr. Reikowski in Ohio is about tinnitus management, and the service is within our scope of practice, why not put the pedal to the metal and go for it! The checkered flag awaits those that take the risk.