By JONATHAN FINE
There are 11m people living with hearing loss in the UK and that’s going to rise to 15.6m by 2035. I bet you can guess what I’m going to say next.
Two words: growth market.
And seven more: that dental practices are primed to service.
Why is this a growth market?
On top of the ageing population driving up demand, supply is being squeezed: North Staffordshire has become the first area to stop providing free hearing aids to adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. Anyone who already has aids but needs them replacing (they last around three years) will also need to buy their own.
South Norfolk and Mid-Essex might be cutting help for over-50s with moderate hearing loss, and six other areas have taken the rather peculiar decision to give just one hearing aid out to their patients (instead of one for each ear).
This is the start of a trend that will turn everyone with mild to moderate hearing problems in the UK into a private consumer, and it’s big business: Boots’ mid range devices retail at £1,095 to £2,000.
Why are dental practices primed to service this market?
These facts should give you a clue:
- It takes people 10 years on average to seek help for hearing loss
- GPs fail to refer 45 per cent of people reporting hearing problems for any intervention
- Hearing loss doubles the risk of depression
- Mild hearing loss doubles the risk of dementia
- Moderate hearing loss triples the risk of dementia
Think about it – you’re likely already treating over-50s and if their hearing issues aren’t being picked up by themselves or their GPs, you can help. If you notice they are hard of hearing you can suggest a free hearing test and supply the appropriate device. You can monitor their hearing whenever they come to you for subsequent dental check-ups and supply replacement devices or more powerful devices when needed.
Most importantly you can use your position of trust to deliver another aspect of health care they need (over 54 per cent of UK adults over 60 have hearing loss) in a way that’s convenient and comfortable for them.
Unlike facial aesthetics this offering doesn’t require much extra training, what it does require is treatment retargeting, a form of marketing that engages a particular tranche of patients with content that’s relevant to them. In this case it’s easy – you simply go after your over-50s.
If you’d like to know more, please get in touch. I’d love to help you establish a new area of growth in your dental practice.