We are launching a new column from the president of Oticon Medical North America, John Sparacio. Each month, John will share his perspectives on the hearing healthcare industry, insights into the future of implantable hearing devices, and provide guidance on how audiology practices and clinics can thrive.
Hearing Healthcare in the New Normal
Moving Beyond Surviving to Thriving
The new normal. Bet you’re as sick of seeing that term in every news article, think piece, and social media pontification as I am. Unfortunately for us, it is the reality we are facing. Life, and the hearing healthcare industry as a whole, will simply not go back to what we used to call “normal” anytime soon—if ever.
So, what can we do about it from a business standpoint? I’ve been racking my brain over that for some time now, and while I’d like to say I came up with the answer, I am pretty sure there isn’t one, at least not a one-size-fits-all, capital A answer. However, what I did come up with is a way we can better navigate these uncharted waters—by sharing our experiences, including what has worked, what hasn’t, and what we believe will help our industry not only survive, but thrive. I will be sharing my experience and perspective monthly, and I hope you will stop by and not only give it a read but share your own thoughts and experiences in the comments.
Personally, I’ll admit this past year has been a doozy. I barely had time to settle in as the president of Oticon Medical North America when the challenge of guiding our business through the Covid-19 crisis landed in my lap like a ticking bomb. We had all just returned from a highly successful international sales meeting in Cancun, and our future outlook was as bright and sunny as that beautiful location.
Then… bam! Less than a month later, the coronavirus was identified, and the entire world began shutting down. I told our office staff they would be working at home for a couple of weeks (ha, I know), and then everything just… stopped. Our customers couldn’t open their offices, our sales team couldn’t travel, our events couldn’t be held, product launches were delayed… It was one door after another slamming shut. And with each one that closed, my fears for the future of our company and of our customers’ businesses grew.
So, what has gotten us through the darkest days of this crisis? Adaptation is top of my list. Worldwide, our leadership teams used robust scenario planning exercises to confront the challenges posed by the pandemic head-on. We maximized our communications infrastructure so that we could conduct meetings and events online. We provided our employees with the equipment required to work from home with as much ease and efficiency as possible. We supplied our field staff with the PPE needed to remain safe while still supporting our clinician and surgical customers.
In short, we adapted. And like any organism facing down a threat, our adaptation meant we survived. In fact, I’ll tiptoe out on a limb and go so far as to say we are thriving. Sure, sales could be better—that’s always true regardless of a worldwide pandemic! But in the course of adapting, we discovered smarter, more efficient ways to conduct business. These lessons will not be discarded once whatever passes for normalcy takes hold, but rather be used to make us an even stronger, more efficient leader in hearing device manufacturing. Which in turn will make us an even better partner to our hearing care professional customers reopening their businesses and relaunching their important services to patients, many of whom have had to postpone getting vital hearing care and are now eager for assistance.
So, back to the new normal. What is that going to look like when it comes to bone-anchored hearing devices and other hearing products and services? Well, some of the changes we’ve already seen, such as the increase in telehealth options, will be sticking around. As for whatever other changes and advancements are coming? I can only speak for my corner of the hearing industry, but there are indeed exciting innovations on the horizon in technology, product, and service offerings. I eagerly look forward to sharing them with you as we all move forward—together.
Only certain staff members are allowed into our Somerset US headquarters right now—essential workers. Who decides who is essential? Me. I found it weird carrying around a letter from me declaring myself an essential worker, so I simply bought the T-shirt.