Where audiology and art benefit patients and community
When Natalie McKee Au.D. took over Bloomington-Normal Audiology in central US last year, she was committed to carrying on the tradition of the previous owner – delivering quality hearing care to the local community and providing a positive experience for patients. Three years later, when a move to a new location created an opportunity to change the look and layout of her clinic, she wanted to do even more for her patients, staff and community to help her clinic stand out.
“I wanted to do something to make our clinic stand out so we worked with an architect to help us design the new space we had, the layout and flow of the clinic,” says Natalie. “But I was unsure about how to make the most of the furniture and walls. So, a colleague from a community outreach program I with work offered to help. She took time to understand why we set up the space the way we did, how we wanted our clients to experience their visit and how we want to connect with them.”
Natalie’s friend and colleague, Jenni Bateman, who is also an artist, suggested using artwork from the artists in the local community to decorate the clinic. She contacted a neighboring art gallery and soon many local artists were exhibiting their works in the clinic. Since then, the response has been overwhelmingly positive from both patients and the community.
Artwork as an icebreaker
It is no secret that patients coming to a hearing care clinic for the first time can be nervous. It can take up to 10 years before a person comes to the realization that they do in fact need a hearing aid, and walking into the clinic for the first time can be intimidating. The artwork can stimulate memories and trigger stories and events from the past.
“We’ve found that the artwork works as a catalyst for conversation, and makes it easier for the patient to relax and open up,” says Natalie. “For example, there is a large painting of an old tricycle hanging in the clinic. An elderly patient saw it when he came in, and immediately started telling me that he once had a bike just like that when he was growing up. Another patient introduced herself at our opening ceremony and told me that she was nervous about getting a hearing test – but not after she saw our clinic.”
Promotion via social media and local community events
The staff at Bloomington-Normal Audiology took a two-step approach to the opening of their new clinic and displaying the artwork by inviting patients to one event and holding an open house for the artists and community at another. They have used social media campaigns to promote the events, including Facebook postings as well as an e-mail blast with invitations. They distributed printed invitations to the artists to hand out to their network. According to Natalie, “We are always looking for new ways to connect and stay in touch with our patients to get our message across, and make the most of the new technology like social media that is changing our way of doing business.”
A changing market requires new and agile thinking
According to Natalie, a changing hearing care market and increased competition requires hearing care professionals to think in new ways with regard to promotion and staying close to patients and potential clients. Bloomington-Normal Audiology promotes their business as a true hearing care provider – delivering more than just hearing aids. Perhaps this is one reason why Bloomington-Normal Audiology has won Best Audiologist in their community for the third year in a row.
“The consumer is changing and as hearing care professionals we need to be adaptable and try new things. Customers are starting to appreciate that if they are going to pay more then there has to be a reason why they are paying more. We focus on making sure our patients understand what it is we sell and the services we provide.”
Integrated hearing care solutions give a professional image
Using the latest technology is also a key part of connecting with patients at Bloomington-Normal Audiology. They use the integrated software platform, Otosuite® from Otometrics that enables you to work in a single software environment throughout the patient’s visit.
“When our patients can see that we run everything from a computer and how it is all connected – from the audiogram and patient management system to Noah and the electronic medical records – it makes a good impression. It shows the patient how organized we are and how the technology is working for them. It’s just one more thing that adds to their experience and helps us stand out from the rest.”
Learn more about Natalie McKee Au.D., The Art of Audiology and Bloomington-Normal Audiology at www.bnaudiology.com