By Peg McRoy Glover
Brownsburg audiologist Shannon Austin, Au.D., fulfilled her dream of private practice ownership in 2021 when she opened SLA Audiology.
She had often thought of opening her own practice throughout the years. But it seemed prudent to stay employed with a large ear, nose, and throat organization so she could continue to put her family first by not be absorbed by the responsibilities of running her own business.
“I had this dream of opening my own practice years ago when I was just out of graduate school, but once we started a family the investment of time and energy of opening and running a business just wasn’t right for us when we had little kids,” said Austin. “In retrospect, I am glad that I didn’t do it back then.”
The COVID lockdown was a pivoting point for her because it brought changes to the nature of her employment. She began to reset her thinking and began to manifest her dream of owning her own office. She used the opportunity of extra time to do research, take extensive courses in insurance billing, and find a location in Brownsburg.
With all that preparation tucked under her arm, she opened SLA Audiology in June of 2021. Her mission at SLA Audiology is to provide a different approach to patient care rather than the care that is standardized in a large organization.
“I had a desire to create a patient experience where we could slow things down and really listen to patients’ needs, educate them on test results, and guide them through implementing a treatment plan,” said Austin. “My expectations for my own practice include keeping my overhead down while not sacrificing the highest standard of care.”
Austin points out that treating hearing loss is so much more than just treating the decrease in hearing acuity. There can be social ramifications as a result of hearing impairments, cognitive difficulties, and dexterity challenges.
“We evaluate the full patient and how their hearing loss affects all of aspect of their lives,” said Austin. “We fully evaluate all of their communication needs before we develop a treatment plan.”
The transparency of the cost of hearing equipment and treatment sessions is also front and center in her approach to patient care. People search the internet for information on hearing devices with cost being front and center of their concerns. Often the price quoted to a patient is bundled with the cost of the device and the treatment costs.
“My second biggest goal is that everything is incredibly transparent in what our patients are paying for,” said Austin. “Traditionally a patient pays the service fees up front not knowing how much follow-up care they might need. It inaccurately gives them the sense that the aids themselves cost X amount of dollars when in reality they are paying for professional services too. We are “unbundling” the service from the device to show what the device is costing. It also puts a value to the professional services that we provide to help keep the devices working to the best they possibly can.”
Austin says that as an audiologist and owner she has a deep interest in ensuring positive patient outcomes. She loves seeing her patients regain confidence and independence in communication through better hearing and changing expectations of what hearing healthcare should be.
“We live in Brownsburg and have raised our children in Brownsburg. It is our home, and we care about our community. It is a business, but it is a business that is an opportunity to take care of our neighbors,” said Austin. “We give back to the community as supporters of Fight Back Fitness, the Hendricks County Senior Center, and the Brownsburg Chamber of Commerce.”
SLA Audiology is located at 480 East Northfield Drive, Suite 600, in Brownsburg. It is open Mon. through Fri. with early morning and evening hours to accommodate working patients, caregivers to patients who still work, and school-aged children. Treatment for infants is also available, as well as care and treatment plans for people who have purchased hearing devices elsewhere. For more information go to www.slaaudiology.com.
Important information about hearing loss.
When should someone see an audiologist? It is recommended that adults have a thorough hearing evaluation at age 50 to establish an individual’s baseline. Babies should have a hearing screening by one month of age and children before they begin school. People who are engaged in professions that exposes them to high noise levels such as musicians, construction workers, military, and police should see an audiologist on a regular basis.
Does everyone with hearing loss need a hearing aid? Hearing loss and the ear itself are as unique to each person as their fingerprint. Hearing aids are not the solution for all hearing difficulties. There is no one size fits all.
What are the symptoms of hearing loss in adults? Some of the symptoms include difficulty in keeping up with conversations and what is being said, misunderstanding what is said, not being able to hear a telephone conversation, turning up the volume on a television or other audio entertainment device, and asking people to repeat what they just said.
What are the symptoms of hearing loss in children and babies? As in adults, the symptoms of hearing loss in children are different in each child. They may exhibit such signs as delayed speech, unclear speech, doesn’t startle at loud noises, doesn’t turn to the source of a sound, or doesn’t respond to the call of their name.