Gene Erickson, BC-HIS, ACA, felt his career path in healthcare was unrewarding - until 1990 when his father-in-law decided to retire from his hearing care practice in Mesa. That's when the Hospital Administration and Healthcare Finance major took a leap of faith and found his niche.
"My wife and I took a close look at the opportunity and made career decisions to take it over," he said. "In a small business like this, we can influence the quality of patient outcomes. It's all about helping each individual patient hear their best and the personal gratification of knowing that I have done the right thing for them."
Initially, Erickson's wife became licensed and he served as the general manager for the practice, but he soon obtained his license, board certification and advanced certification in audioprosthology.
"I realized how rewarding it could be to provide direct patient hearing healthcare," he said. "The model is simple. A patient comes in with a hearing problem. We measure the deficit, recommend the best hearing solution, fit and verify the performance of the devices, provide on-going hearing care - and the patient’s quality of life is improved. No politics. No stress. It’s a very rewarding process for all involved and takes about 90 minutes."
Erickson said Desert Hearing Care made the decision years ago to offer access to multiple hearing aid products and solutions in order to fit people more appropriately and derive better outcomes. They offer a 45-day, no risk, 100 percent money back guarantee as well as comprehensive service after the sale to make sure patients get the most value from their purchase.
"That might sound like meat and potatoes," he said, "but the bottom line is we don't just talk about satisfaction assurance, we do it. We listen to the patient and provide personalized solutions that meet their needs now and in the future. We’re concerned about improving their quality of life and truly care about them personally."
Desert Hearing Care is also passionate about community outreach. Two years ago, Erickson created the position of community outreach director. Today, they have a full schedule of activities which includes health fairs, community hearing screenings, hearing aid checks and cleans and consumer seminars.
"We try to participate in one or two events per week, depending on the time of year," he said. "A lot of it is education so we can be there when people are ready to seek help with their hearing health."
Because Desert Hearing offers solutions from the top six hearing aid manufacturers, one of the most challenging aspects of their business is keeping up with the constantly changing technology. "We are continuously evaluating new products, receiving additional training, learning new software, implementing new protocols and improving operating procedures," he said. "Continuous improvement is part of our basic operating philosophy."
That philosophy helps drive patient satisfaction. One of Erickson's favorite hearing aid success stories occurred with an existing patient who had poor word recognition because of the severity of his high frequency hearing loss. When he was fit with new hearing instruments, he demonstrated double digit improvements in his word recognition test scores. "For this patient, it was the equivalent of turning on the lights," he said. "Did his old hearing aids work? Yes, but could he benefit from new technology? Yes - and we proved it. He was so impressed that he has subsequently referred several patients who had previously given up hope."