St. Luke’s Hospital - Consult
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June 8, 2020
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August 3, 2020

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St. Luke’s Hospital: Ensuring a successful future one step at a time

Consult YHN’s Managing Business Activities (MBA) Program provides Associates a roadmap for success in the year ahead. Together, we assess your clinic’s current state through P&L analysis and define your financial and organizational goals. Attendees gain strategies they can implement immediately to drive more opportunities and increase revenue. Brittany Hilderbrandt, Au.D., Director of Audiology at St. Luke’s Hospital in Pennsylvania is an excellent example of an Associate who attended our MBA and took immediate action. After attending our Hospital & University MBA workshop in December 2019, Brittany was motivated and determined to make the changes necessary to help her clinic become more efficient and profitable. She talked to us about her experience of stepping into a leadership role and how it has changed her priorities, as well as, everything she is focused on to help set her clinic up for greater success moving forward.

“You have to be able to lay all the chips on the table and say, ‘Listen, I understand this is a lot of money. It’s an investment in your future, in your hearing healthcare, your overall quality of life. You're making that investment now and it's going to carry you for the next six years, if not more.’”
Brittany Hilderbrandt, Au.D., CCC-A

Q&A with Brittany Hilderbrandt, Au.D., CCC-A, Director of Audiology:

1What were you looking to learn from the MBA when you signed up?
I started out as an Audiologist with St. Luke's and then transitioned into the Director/Clinical Coordinator position that was more in charge of backend things like billing and ensuring our schedule is optimized. So, I really just wanted some additional information on essentially how to run a business. Yes, we have the comfort of being part of a hospital network, but I wanted to learn more about managing the day-to-day operations to make sure we're doing everything effectively and efficiently.
2One of the first questions that we asked everyone at the MBA you attended was ‘Do you feel as though you're the owner of your clinic?’ What was your answer?
It's kind of funny because, again, even though we’re part of this huge, 14,000 employee network, at the end of the day, there’s only six of us. We’re the only people who know how to do what we do. While I'm not the owner of this clinic, it is up to me to make sure we're getting the appropriate patients scheduled and that we’re providing hearing aid information and fittings appropriately. And you do feel more like the owner when you start looking at those smaller details.
3What was one of your first priorities following the MBA?
When I took over as the Director, I wanted to ensure I was looking at every aspect of the department and making sure everything was up-to-date. So, one of the items that I focused on was our pricing. Especially with all the new advancements with rechargeable and Bluetooth hearing aids, I wanted to make sure that our prices were on par with the private practices in the area. Consult did secret shopper calls and a Territory Analysis for us, which were really helpful. These reports were able to provide a lot of information by looking at our region and finding out, not only who our competitors are and where they're located, but also digging a little deeper to find out what type of hearing aids are selling and at what price points.
4Tell us about the Pricing Analysis Consult created for your clinic and how it has helped?
Consult provided a detailed analysis and worksheet of what we could be charging for certain technology levels. We work with a lot of Pennsylvania Medicaid and Medicare plans that have certain benefits for hearing aids. So, unfortunately, we’re limited in that sense, but we did find that our economy level was already what Consult suggested we charge. There were two or three pricing tiers that we ended up needing to adjust to make sure that we’re competitive. Those have been in place a little over three weeks, now. So, that was all really helpful and gave me peace of mind that we are where we need to be.
5You recently created a pricing guide for your patients – please share with us what it is and how it’s helped you and your team.
Basically, now we have a hearing aid pricing guide that we're able to hand patients. Previously, we would discuss what options were available to patients, and what we felt was the most appropriate hearing aid technology level based on their hearing loss and lifestyle. Then, once we made the recommendations, we would tell them the price. Looking back, I realize this wasn’t the best practice. Now, we have a form that we can hand to patients with all five of our levels listed and they're divided between one hearing aid versus two and standard versus rechargeable. It's nice because all of those prices are right there for them and they can see what the differences are between the five levels.
6What else do you plan to implement or change this year?
One thing that we have yet to implement, which Scott [Berger] and I were working on during this pandemic was breaking down what you're getting for each tier of hearing aid, and then essentially working towards a service plan. You purchase premium products and then you get to show patients what's included in that purchase. I’m excited to get that up and running to help not only myself but my other Audiologist bridge that barrier between patient and clinician.
7A lot of Audiologists struggle with overcoming price objections and selling more expensive devices to patients. How do you handle it?
It is tough as an Audiologist - we go back and forth between feeling like a car salesman and like we're actually part of the medical field. Unfortunately, hearing aids are not yet fully covered by medical insurance, so we do have to sell. And we don't get a lot of actual sales training in school. You learn how to sell a hearing aid, but you don't learn all of the different tactics. We're never in the habit of pushing any technology level that's not appropriate. If they can't afford it, I get it. We'll work with whatever they can afford and do the best we can. I think at the end of the day, though, you have to be able to lay all the chips on the table and say, ‘Listen, I understand this is a lot of money. It’s an investment in your future, in your hearing healthcare, your overall quality of life. You're making that investment now and it's going to carry you for the next six years, if not more.’ It’s also important to be able to show them what they're paying for. Explaining, ‘if you just spend this extra $800 now, you're going to be covered longer and you're going to get more services,’ can sometimes help patients make that more difficult decision. Not only does it give the patient peace of mind, but it really highlights all the services that are included.

Click here to listen to the full interview!