Thursday, March 22, 2018

Choosing A Cochlear Implant – Is Your Provider Giving You All The Information?

By Eric Sherman



Recently, I found myself in a Facebook group chat discussing how someone decided on their cochlear implant.  The person shared that they “naively” went along with their surgeons recommendations.  Fortunately, the implant worked out well for the person, but it raised an interesting question.  How much influence does the healthcare provider have over the individual’s decision in selecting a cochlear implant brand? 

I posed this question in several cochlear implant Facebook Groups. What influenced your decision to choose a specific brand? And why?  177 people responded and interestingly 60% of those respondents stated their choice was influenced by the cochlear implant center (hospital included), audiologist, and surgeon.  This is reasonable considering people generally trust their hearing healthcare providers.  But another picture emerged about hearing health professionals I did not expect.

I found people were unaware they had a choice when they were going through the selection process for a cochlear implant.  Certain facilities and government run healthcare systems have contracts with certain manufactures and insurance, limiting the devices that were offered.  Also, choices were limited because of known recalls or device failures. Audiologist and surgeons have a certain level of comfort and experience working with certain brands, so they would guide patients toward one brand over another.  One person even shared that one of the cochlear implant manufacturers settled a lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged kickbacks to health care providers.

Trust and comfort is important when dealing with your hearing health professionals, and you should have all the facts when your audiologist, surgeon, or implant center recommends a life-long implant for you or a family member.   This includes knowing if their recommendations are based on business reasons, experience, or personal preferences. 

In the end, when going through your selection process for a cochlear implant, you need to do your research and due diligence.   If you can’t get the device you want implanted, you may have to switch providers or facilities. 

#cochlearimplant

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