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: In October 2017 North Staffordshire became 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.
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’ cheapest hearing aid retails at £1,375 (for one ear).
Why are dental practices primed to service this market?
- 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 in for dental check-ups and supply replacement devices or more powerful devices when needed.
You can really add value here, delivering an aspect of health care many of your older patients definitely need (54 per cent of over-60s in the UK have hearing loss) in a convenient and comfortable way.
There are some additional sweeteners to ponder too.
- The average salary for an audiologist in the UK is just £25k, considerably less than a hygienist
- Patients lose hearing aids at an alarming rate
- The margins on hearing aids are high
- Boots and Specsavers are doing a great job creating demand in the market
- You don’t need to equip a surgery, any consulting room will do
- It’s just another landing page on your website
More statistics about the market:
- About one in six people experience hearing loss
- By 2035 one in five will have hearing loss [based on ageing population, notwithstanding the increase in younger victims]
- Hearing loss affects 42 per cent of over-50s and 71 per cent of over-70s
- In 2066 there will be an additional 8.6 million over-65s in the UK, making up 26% of the total population
- Hearing loss is now one of the most common long-term conditions in older people and is the sixth leading cause of disability in England
Your target market is the over-50s, although the average age of hearing aid consumers is going to fall because of noise-induced hearing loss through headphones. Hidden Hearing audiologist Dolores Madden told the Irish Independent: “Ten years ago, around five per cent of people aged under 45 were fitted with hearing aids. Now, 23 per cent of our hearing aids are for people under 45.”
If you’d like some help to establish this new area of growth in your dental practice get in touch.