By: Tatyana Kennedy, Au.D.



These days, many people struggling to hear are asking the same question.  As consumers, we have become accustomed to buying things online and having them show up on our doorstep days later, with the benefits of online support at our fingertips. The convenience and lower cost of this model is appealing, and it is tempting to apply a similar solution to address hearing health concerns.  But is buying hearing aids online truly safe, efficient and cost effective? Read on so that you can make the best decision for your own hearing health journey.

First, let us review the process of getting a hearing aid online as it compares to the traditional model of diagnosing and treating hearing loss.




1.) Have your hearing tested by a licensed Audiologist. 1.) Test your own hearing on a website or App.
2.) Undergo a needs assessment to determine how the hearing loss affects your daily activities and which areas are most important for you to improve. Choose your device. 2.) Speak with someone online about your hearing needs and goals. This may or may not be a licensed Audiologist. Choose your device.
3.) The Audiologist fits your devices precisely to your ears and programs them to your hearing loss prescription. Counseling regarding use and maintenance is conducted in person and via video chat/tutorial if needed. 3.) Pre-programmed hearing aids are mailed to you. You are responsible for figuring out how to use and care for the hearing aids.  Video chats and tutorials may be used to facilitate fitting.
4.) Follow up with the Audiologist for programming adjustments to ensure that you are meeting your goals and confidently managing all the features of the device. This can be done in person or remotely. 4.) Use an App to make adjustments to your hearing aid programming. Troubleshooting and support are available using video chat, email, or online tutorials. Hearing aids may need to be sent back for more in depth program changes.
5.) Verification of device performance on your ear is completed by the Audiologist. 5.) Verification of device performance cannot be is completed remotely at this time.
6.) Follow up for maintenance and repairs is included in the cost and can be completed quickly in office. A loaner is provided for offsite repairs. 6.) Hearing aids will need to be sent back to the company for any maintenance and repairs.

Looking at the above, you may already suspect that you are better suited for one approach versus the other.  Certainly, if you live in a remote location or have no way of getting to a qualified professional, the online solution is a great way to make sure you address your hearing loss by some means.  However, if both options are physically available to you, lets get into some of the details.



In order to accurately test your hearing and ensure that there are no underlying medical conditions, your testing needs to be completed in person with an Audiologist.  Your hearing aid will eventually be programmed based on the test results you provide.  If you “messed up” your online hearing test, the subsequent fitting will not be helpful and may even further damage your hearing.  If you do decide to go with an online hearing aid purchase, you should still strongly consider having your hearing tested by a licensed Audiologist. Having your hearing aids programmed based on accurate results will help maximize their benefit.



Another important component of a successful hearing aid fitting is the physical fit of the device in your ear.  An Audiologist helps make sure that the various components of the hearing aid are customized to fit your ear precisely.  This makes for a more discreet look as well as greatly increases the benefit you get from the device.  If you choose to purchase hearing aids online, be prepared to experiment with various wire and domes sizes to ensure proper results.  Some online providers will help with this via online support, but the task requires good vision and dexterity and may ultimately be easier to accomplish with a live person.




Next comes programming the device.  With an online purchase, your device will arrive in the mail preprogrammed to the test you provided.  You then have the option of making minor adjustments via your App or sending the hearing aids back to the online provider for more extensive fine-tuning.  This, of course, leaves you without your devices and disrupts the process of getting used to amplification.  Precise programming and fine-tuning are extremely important to patient outcomes with amplification and we believe that a first fitting is best accomplished in person.  Perhaps most importantly, your Audiologist can perform verification measures to make sure that you are meeting your hearing aid prescription and maximizing your benefit with the device.  To date, this cannot be accomplished without seeing a patient in person and would not be available in the online purchasing experience.

Lastly, traditional hearing aids now allow an Audiologist to “log in” to your hearing aids remotely and make the same precise programming adjustments they would normally make in person.  Many patients who prefer to avoid in person office visits for safety or convenience, love taking advantage of this great new feature for programming adjustments that may be necessary after the initial office fitting.



Finally, consider the use of the hearing aids over their lifetime.  Hearing aids are exposed to some extreme conditions in the human ear (wax and moisture being the biggest culprits) and require periodic maintenance. If purchased online, your hearing aids would need to be sent away each time they need service, leaving you without proper hearing for up to 2 weeks.  Many of these issues can be taken care of quickly in person, without disruption to your hearing aid use, and at no extra cost.  If the Audiologist does have to send your hearing aids away for a more serious repair, most will provide you with a loaner programmed to your settings in the interim.  When hearing devices are not regularly maintained, their overall lifespan inevitably decreases. If you are buying hearing aids online more often as a result of improper maintenance, the cost savings may not be worthwhile in the long term.



Purchasing hearing aids online, like anything else, comes with pros and cons. You should thoroughly consider your options and the type of experience you want to have before deciding how to spend your money. Here is a summary to help you make the right choice:


–Buying online is a great option if you live in a remote location and do not have easy access to in person care.

–Online hearing aid purchases may not be great for first time users, those who are not tech savvy or those with poor vision or dexterity.  For these patients, having a local provider to shepherd you through your hearing aid journey is likely the best choice.

— If you do decide to purchase a device online, choose an in-person hearing test rather than an online test as the basis of your fitting.  If possible, look for a local provider willing to help you program or service the device you purchase online; this will go a long way if you find you need help with fitting, programming or maintenance down the road.

At the end of the day, checking your hearing and treating your hearing loss in any fashion is better for your overall health than doing nothing at all.  Advanced Audiology of NY can help you get started by testing your hearing and answering all your questions about the variety of available online and in-person treatment options. Give us a call!

About the Author:

Tatyana Kennedy, Au.D., CCC-A

Dr. Kennedy is an Audiologist with over 15 years of experience creating tailored hearing health solutions for patients with hearing and balance disorders who are looking to lead productive and fulfilling lives. She is a mother of two and a wife of one, an athlete and an avid traveler. She loves all things technology and tells unnecessarily long stories. Dr. Kennedy accepted a full-time parenting position at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic but remains committed to helping people make informed decisions about achieving better hearing and health.