Episode #12: Thanks, But No Thanks! How Oticon’s Healthy Hearing Partnership May Be Hurting Your Practice

Apr 18, 2012

Episode #12: Thanks, But No Thanks!  How Oticon’s Healthy Hearing Partnership May Be Hurting Your Practice

“Show notes” are posted below each episode. This is where you will find relevant information and links related specifically to the episode.

Don’t Forget To Register for the Virtual Audiology Marketing Symposium – April 23rd-27th 2012.

This is weird one for me.  I’m actually uncomfortable about it.  But I’m more uncomfortable about keeping my mouth shut and not trying to do anything about it.  I was shocked when I found out about it, and the few friends I’ve told about it were equally as shocked – some more so.  One of my audiologist friends told me I should title the video “Prepare To Be Infuriated”.

It’s important to me that people know that I don’t have anything against Oticon as a whole.  I have friends at Oticon, and I don’t hold this against them.  But I do have a BIG problem with this particular issue.

As someone who understands internet marketing a little differently than the average audiologist, I feel a responsibility to spread the word and share my perspective.

I have two goals with this episode:
1) Inform practice owners about what’s going on so they can do something about it to improve their positioning online.
2) Motivate others to join with me in requesting that Oticon change their policy about lowest tier listings.

I’m particularly interested to find out how you guys will react to the news.

Please comment below, and let me know what you think.

 

45 Responses to “Episode #12: Thanks, But No Thanks! How Oticon’s Healthy Hearing Partnership May Be Hurting Your Practice”

  1. Linda Minch

    19. buy generic propecia online Apr, 2012

    Matt;

    Sounds like “bait & switch to me” and very unethical. You are right to spread the word and I will do as you suggest, contact Oticon with my 2Cents and then tell everyone I Know. Thank you

    Reply to this comment
  2. Mel Mock

    19. Apr, 2012

    RIGHT ON! I too have been furious about this flagrant attempt to HELP us and yet cut our practices out of the loop. I too first contacted Healthy Hearing, then Oticon only to get to the same place you did. Thanks for speaking out, I will pass this on to my fellow dispensers.

    Reply to this comment
  3. David DeKriek

    19. Apr, 2012

    Thank you for bringing this to light Matt. When Oticon bought HealthyHearing.com I spent months and several emails and phone calls trying to figure out what happened to my listing. Eventually I learned the truth that you clearly described.

    Currently, my office is one of only two audiology offices in the city of Cerritos, CA. When searching for hearing aid providers in Cerritos on HealthyHearing.com there are 26 other listings before my own and they are not even in the same city. Oticon has misrepresented themselves to me and mislead people looking for my office.

    Fortunately, with the help of others (you included), I have been able to push HealthyHearing.com down in the search results for my area. As more and more people are going online to search for information about hearing aids for themselves or family members, it is becoming increasingly important to have a good web presence and to incorporate good search-engine-optimization.

    I encourage every professional I know to watch your videos and utilize the advice and techniques you make freely available.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Shannon Wrabel

    19. Apr, 2012

    Thank you Matt for taking the time and resources to bring this to our attention. I was unaware this was going on and will be contacting them regarding my listing.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Doug Brown

    19. Apr, 2012

    Matt,
    I, too, am one of the victims of this scheme. It is similar to the marketing approach that UHC is making to audiologists they are approaching to participate in their online selling program – the benefits you receive from the referrals they provide without you spending marketing dollars to get the patient. A smokescreen at best. This is worse because I have a relationship with the company, which admittedly is not as strong as it once was, or as strong as some of my local colleagues, but I would expect that they could frame it as an incentive to sell more devices and move up the list, rather use my input to further the competition’s advantage. Thank you for clearly spelling it out to me.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Kimberly Skinner

    19. Apr, 2012

    Thank you for this video, Matt! And thank you, David, for posting the link on the CAA facebook page!

    “It’s a free country”– how helpful!

    Thank you for putting yourself out there, this is important.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Rosemary Steed

    19. Apr, 2012

    Just got your postcard, and took a look on your website. Amazing, that Oticon thinks they can get away with this!
    I’m calling them right now. Thanks for your efforts in exposing Oticon in this wrongdoing.

    Reply to this comment
  8. John M Burgess

    19. Apr, 2012

    Ditto to all that. I’ll E-mail Mont Stong right now. I have trouble imagining they would intentionally use lesser accounts to steer business to the competition but given that Matt made them clearly aware I can only surmise the not invented here syndrome is hard at work. I have found Oticon to be uncompromising on other issues many times in the past and so am not suprised by their response.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Veronica Heide

    20. Apr, 2012

    Same experience here. Even contacted Jim Kothe and Henning Foster to see what could be done – no change.

    I also want to point out that this practice is not just Oticon. For example, I was very excited about Unitron’s iPhone app “UHear” and did the entire thing, entered my zip code and found that they referred me to another provider. I called right away and they said that even though I was an account in good standing, I did not sell enough of the product to be listed as a practice to be referred to. I thought at the time that this was short sighted because there are certainly more than enough customer/patients out there seeking help but my comments fell on deaf ears. Can you guess how many Unitron products I was interested in ordering?

    We could also complain that Sonova is trading professional practice for product sales: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-10-19/sonova-shares-rise-most-in-month-on-hearing-aid-sales-growth.html

    We need to use our buying power to purchase from manufacturers that do not engage in marking practices that undermine the profession.

    We need manufacturers to understant that there are TWO componenets – product and professional skill to the successful fitting of amplificaton. Currently they are looking at numbers of widgets to sell. They need a distribution network for the widgets. They don’t care if they sell the widgets to audiologists, hearing aid salesmen, consumers, physicians, PAs… they just want to improve their bottom line – sales.
    We need to demonstrate professional competence in fitting hearing instruments not just based on the software – but on the capabilities of the audiologist fitting and rehabilitating the patient. You cannot expect good outcomes from knee or hip replacement without experienced physical therapy after the surgery. We need manufacturers to start respecting what we bring to the patient instead of disrespecting what we do.

    Until we establish audiology as a doctoring profession with limited liability practioner (LLC) status, we are limited in our ability to own our own domain – hearing care. We need to support professional associations who want to see the profession of audiology grow and thrive.

    Keep a vigilant eye on the storm ahead. It is important to be vocal and stand up for our profession. I applaud ADA for standing up against United Healthcare’s online hearing test. Join up! Fight the good fight on behalf of the consumers you serve.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Matt

    20. Apr, 2012

    Thanks for your comments guys!

    Veronica’s right that other hearing aid manufacturers are selectively referring patients to more active accounts. I actually don’t have that big of a problem with it, as long as they don’t use my account information to help them in the process.

    As a business, I can see why Unitron wouldn’t want to invest the money into an iPhone app (as a marketing effort) and then refer people to practices that will probably fit the referral in something besides a Unitron product.

    I know that Phonak is running into that problem with their Lyric advertising campaigns. Phonak invests the money to advertise Lyric, and the 50% of people that Lyric won’t work for end up getting fit with something else. It’s great lead generation, but Phonak ends up paying to drive leads for eventual ReSound, Oticon, Widex, Siemens, and Starkey purchases. In the future, it would not surprise me if they consider overall Phonak purchase amounts when determining where to send these Lyric leads – if they aren’t doing it already.

    But this issue with Oticon is on a different level for me – which is why I felt compelled to make a big deal out of it. They say they’re providing me a service, but my practice’s involvement ends up hurting me more than helping me. I’d honestly be ok if they only gave free listings to their bigger accounts. Just don’t tell me you’re helping me out when there’s evidence to the contrary.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Tim Hunsaker

    20. Apr, 2012

    Thanks for the postcard. I’ve always thought it was dishonest(unethical) that there is no mention on healthyhearing that it is owned by Oticon. They should have to indicate that they are a author. It would be like GM owning cars.com.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Frank Lanzetta

    20. Apr, 2012

    Thank you Matt for taking the time and resources to bring this to our attention. Just got your postcard, and took a look on your website. I can’t believe Oticon thinks they can get away with this! I’m calling them right now. Thanks for your efforts in exposing Oticon in this very unethical wrongdoing.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Maura Marks

    20. Apr, 2012

    Thank you Matt. I had no idea! Keep up the great work. My next call is to Oticon. Life in Audiology is hard enough without having this kind of underhanded business to deal with too!

    Reply to this comment
  14. Marc Trychel

    20. Apr, 2012

    That is pretty amazing, disingenuous and unethical. Thanks for bringing my attention to this.

    Reply to this comment
  15. Stuart

    20. Apr, 2012

    Thanks for the info. I’ve been arguing with oticon for 2 years, but will now ask to have my name removed

    Reply to this comment
  16. Gary Rimarcik

    20. Apr, 2012

    Thank you Matt! I did a search on our business name and the Health Hearing link was above our link on the search page. We too had no business telephone number listed, how convienent for Oticon to direct potential customers to a dealer that handles their product! Directly underneath our name were our competitors within a few miles.
    I immediately contacted Oticon to have it removed. The rep seemed to be reading a script on why this is still beneficial to us to remain on the site. In the end the rep agreed with me and removed us but only after listening to numerous attempts to have a outside rep come out to talk to us about doing more business.

    Thanks again

    Reply to this comment
    • Matt

      20. Apr, 2012

      Yeah. They told me a bunch of things about why it was good to be listed, but none of it made any sense to me (and I think I have a pretty good idea about how online marketing works). They still insisted that “any exposure was better than no exposure”. I would love to hear a scenario where that would be the case.

      Reply to this comment
  17. John Hisey

    20. Apr, 2012

    I appreciate your comments. I found out about the issues about 6 months ago and went round and round with Oticon. They were sending patients 2.5 hours away, over a mountain pass, to larger clinics in metropolitan areas. I think it is unethical and I don’t think Oticon has any interest in upholding their own company saying “people first”. I told them they need to revise their slogan to “money first”. You can imagine how that went over. I have historically really liked the company, but they have made it clear how they feel about healthy hearing, and I doubt they will change.

    Reply to this comment
  18. H English

    20. Apr, 2012

    This is a free service offered to loyal customers. The more loyal. the better positioning on the referral site. Quick question…do you feel that everyone should have the same representation, regardless of the amount of business you give a manufacturer? When practices spread their business around to several manufacturers, they have to accept the fact that they probably wont be eligible for all of the services that are offered to top customers.

    Reply to this comment
    • Matt

      21. Apr, 2012

      If it were a free service offered just to loyal customers, I’d be ok with that. As I said in the video, what I have a problem with is the “disservice” given to less loyal customers, under the guise of an actual service.

      And I don’t think everyone should have the same representation. The “freemium” online directory model has been around for years. In the lowest tier, it’s name, address, and phone number. Higher tiers can include photos, email links, websites, maps, descriptions, etc.

      My two suggestions are: 1) Either include a phone number in the basic listing or 2) Don’t give us (as less loyal customers) a listing at all.

      Reply to this comment
  19. Donelle Ehritt

    21. Apr, 2012

    Thanks Matt- I pulled up my city where I am the ONLY dispensing audiologist OR dispenser and found 15 other names ahead of my own in surrounding areas- some as far away as 20-40 miles!!!
    I have recently opened a new and smaller office after being in private practice for 30 years and then working for a larger company for the past 6 years. I have been an audiologist in this area for over 35 years. I am interested in letting many of my previous and loyal patients know about my new office location . It does seem that when searching through Health Hearing that patients are being directed to almost anyone except me!!!
    I will certainly ask to have my name taken off of their list and file my displeasure with the whole system with Mont Stong.
    Thanks for the information.

    Reply to this comment
  20. Audiologist

    21. Apr, 2012

    I absolutely agree with your message. Just in the past few weeks I also contacted Healthy Hearing to add my phone number and was told to talk to my Oticon Rep. Haven’t been able to get anywhere with this and I’m glad you are educating everyone about this.

    Reply to this comment
  21. Carol Letzter, AuD

    23. Apr, 2012

    This is not a surprise to me – I am part of the exclusive club of being pushed to the bottom too. Starkey is also guilty of this same type of gimmic – if you are not a practice who dispenses many hearing aids per month than you are not even listed as an Audiologist on Starkey’s site as one of their certified Audiologists who are trained to dispense their products. I have had patients who live in the same neighborhood as my office and were directed to a practice miles away from mine. Why? My patients informed me that according to Starkey I am not trained or certified to sell their hearing aids so they went to the Audiologist who was on Starkey’s list of recommended Audiologists. I contacted Starkey about this and they pretty much said sell a certain number of units per month or you do not make the list. I have been a loyal account to Starkey for the past 25 years but the small guys who helped make Starkey as well as other companies what they are today are now chopped liver – they are only interested in big wigs who can provide them with large orders each month.

    I am glad to see that I am not alone but it is very upsetting as to what our hearing aid market has become.

    Reply to this comment
  22. Evan

    24. propecia online Apr, 2012

    Wow I never knew this! Thank you Matt. I agree with you 100%. If you were searching something and saw 10 listings and only one had a phone number you will obviously be drawn to the one with the phone number. It is not right on their part and I think the “lower level” accounts should stop doing Oticon. If you are not important enough to them they shouldn’t be important enough to you.

    Reply to this comment
  23. Nancy

    24. Apr, 2012

    Hi Matt,
    Thank you so much for bringing this to light. I have had your same experiences, and like you, got nowhere even after speaking to Oticon staff. Originally I called Oticon after one listing stated that unfortunately no phone number was made available to them. This of course was not the case, and I got transferred to my Oticon rep who gave me the story about the need to sell more of their products.
    I also wouldn’t mind some of the Oticon/Healthy Hearing disingenuous practices so much if they would come clean to the public that Healthy Hearing is not in fact a neutral site, but rather that it is an Oticon site hiding behind the smoke screen.

    I have liked Oticon staff in general, but have become more uncomfortable with some of the company policies. While I understand it is in the best interest to the stock holders for Oticon to capture market share, I am uncomfortable that the same folks who have these questionable marketing schemes now own all the manufacturer distributerships. I anticipate more future ‘squeeze-plays’ that deceptively support only the Wm Demont owned equipment . Meanwhile Oticon/Demont now have access to all clinic info out there via equipment lists….Oh, don’t get me started…….

    Reply to this comment
  24. LM

    24. Apr, 2012

    Watched your video. Thanks.
    Checked the HH site for our listing which was non- existent for several offices. However,they did list a door to door dispenser and every office of a group that they support or own now although if it was 50 miles away. Thank you for calling this to my attention. I am disappointed in Oticon and also have good friends there. It is a free country. It is misleading to consumers to lead them to believe this is a complete listing if it is a listing of Oticon dispensers primarily. If this were on the Oticon website it would be different. The best thing to do may be to inform consumers of the Oticon ownership of HH in all our newsletters and advertising. It may enough to tell patients that the website is a promotional Oticon website and not a complete listing of available vendors. The truth is usually the best policy as we learned in kindergarden.
    Guess some of us skipped kindergarden!

    Reply to this comment
  25. Gail

    24. Apr, 2012

    Thank you so much for the postcard. Just watched the video and then googled my practice. We are listed without a phone number, and then Preferred practices 40-70 miles away are listed with phone numbers and great reviews. Oticon will be getting my phone call regarding this as soon as I am done typing this.
    Thank you for taking the time to make all aware

    Reply to this comment
  26. Monica

    24. Apr, 2012

    I don’t think it is fair, or ethical, to single out Oticon. They ALL do this. What is the REAL motive behind this video?

    Reply to this comment
    • Matt

      24. Apr, 2012

      Really? Can you tell me an example of another manufacturer doing something similar?

      I (and a lot of other people) see a big difference between what’s happening here and what a lot of the other manufacturers are doing. A lot of manufacturers have a “find a provider” tool on their website. And a lot of them only list their more active accounts. (I’m personally ok with this, as I explained in a previous comment – others may not be). But that’s not what’s happening here with Healthy Hearing and Oticon.

      Reply to this comment
  27. Dassan Ali

    25. Apr, 2012

    Just checked out my listing on healthy hearing and my business wasn’t listed anywhere until the bottom of the page. There were about 15 other locations listed that are not even in the same zip code as my office and to top it off the phone number was the wrong number

    Reply to this comment
    • Matt

      25. Apr, 2012

      On the bright side, in the second tier, you at least had a phone number listed. The wrong number should be easy enough to fix.

      Reply to this comment
  28. John rundles

    25. Apr, 2012

    Thanx so much for getting the word out. This will matter as to ordering from Oticon from now on. Keep up the good work. Next start with United health care and their methods for selling thier hearing aids on line.

    Reply to this comment
  29. Anne Galloway

    25. Apr, 2012

    Matt,

    While I used to order many Oticon hearing aids, they have been at the bottom of my list for at least a year which landed me in their bottom tier. As you have pointed out, by listing my practice name on the Healthy Hearing Website without a phone number, and with their clear direction toward another office, they seem to be using my practice name, and those of other businesses, to direct traffic to the office in town with a more active Oticon account. We have asked our inside representative at Oticon to remove our name from the list if they cannot add our telephone number, He acted as if he did not know of this practice, and said he would take it to his superiors. I suspect they are very aware, based on the fact you have talked to executives at Oticon and Healthy Hearing.

    Reply to this comment
  30. Karen Martin

    25. Apr, 2012

    I have been trying to figure out why this was happening with my Web Page for months and made many attempts to contact Healthy Hearing with no answer from them OR from Oticon when I directed by question to them. In my case, the “preferred provider” is 180 miles away. I will be contacting my Oticon representative for sure and follow up. Thanks for being on top of this one.

    Reply to this comment
  31. Vicki Fisher

    26. buy clomid Apr, 2012

    I too am extremely concerned regarding this. I will be talking to my Oticon rep next week and will be contacting Oticon today. Thank you for letting me know. I have a hard time believing others won’t be concerned also.

    Reply to this comment
    • Thank you for your reassurance. When I went into Healthy Hearing months ago using my zip code, every competitor came up first, many geographically undesirable to the average consumer. I found myself buried on the bottom of another page. And, I am the only provider in my zip code! After many phone calls and emails, I was told to buy more product and I would see that change. For a short while, my practice rose to the top of the list, and when my buying practices did not change, my practice was again demoted. If I remove my practice name from the Healthy Hearing website, will this prevent Oticon using my practice as a stepping stone? Being a preferred provider is understandable but this is a dirty way to do business.

      Reply to this comment
      • Matt

        05. May, 2012

        That’s correct. Once your listing is removed, it could take a couple days, but Healthy Hearing should cease showing up in the search results when someone Googles your practice name.

        Reply to this comment
  32. Paul Harris

    01. May, 2012

    I should not be shocked as every manufacturer seeks a new strategy to boost sales and “preferred” dispensers.
    As you pointed out not everyone is tech savvy or Web savvy to understand the marketing implications to this.
    It sounds like you tried every opportunity to resolve this and it was a very good video.
    By now Oticon should have received many phone calls and i am sure this page has priligy online been linked and shared (as i am doing now) to raise awareness.
    Well done for taking the time to do this professionally and do it well. I look forward to watching more in the future.
    P.

    Reply to this comment
  33. Jill Mazur

    04. May, 2012

    Very Interesting!!!

    I have actually been thinking about increasing my business with Oticon. I am a Widex fan, but I need another product with a different battery door and Starkey has been falling short.

    Now…no way Oticon!!!

    Thanks…Jill

    Reply to this comment
  34. Donna Ramey

    04. May, 2012

    I have also had a negative experience with HH – incorrect address listing and no phone number. Calling my inside rep for months did nothing to get it fixed. Finally got a new outside rep (I had no one for almost a year). He got the address corrected, but still no phone number. I had received a few calls from HH referrals in the past, but they suddenly stopped. Now I know why.
    I don’t like this at all. I agree that bigger accounts can have priority if that is what they choose to do, but this method is crummy. How can I sell more of their product to improve my ranking if no one can find me?

    Reply to this comment
  35. Erin Menendez

    04. May, 2012

    Matt,

    Thank you for sharing the milf porn information. I happened to stumble upon your site and enjoyed your videos. When I showed it to an associate, I was suprised to see she already had a post card you mailed.

    I am happy to say we have called to voice our concerns and are awaiting the addition of a phone number or the buy levitra online removal of our listing from their “helpful site”.

    Thanks again,

    Erin Menendez

    Reply to this comment
  36. Tim Becker

    07. May, 2012

    Thanks for your insights. Unfortunately not surprising. I also liked your comments on marketing ethics.

    Reply to this comment
  37. HIS

    29. Jun, 2012

    While I agree with what you have to say above – I also find it interesting that you allowed Henrik Nielsen of Blueprint Solutions to present at your online marketing event. Isn’t it common knowledge now that Blueprint is owned by Demant, who also owns Oticon?

    Reply to this comment
    • Matt

      30. Jun, 2012

      I’ve got nothin’ but love for Henrik. He has nothing to do with this situation. And I don’t have an issue with Oticon as a whole. It’s just this one issue I have a big problem with.

      Reply to this comment

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