Now, the recent approval of over-the-counter hearing aid sales following the passage of the OTC Hearing Aid Act by Congress, and subsequent rules issued by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), allows consumers to purchase hearing aids directly at retail stores and online without requiring a prescription or professional fitting. Not only does this make hearing aids available at a fraction of the cost, it also makes them more accessible, simply by shopping at retailers like Walgreens.
As its retail pharmacy partner, Walgreens now sells Lexie Lumen hearing aids at 8,500 Walgreens stores, at Walgreens.com, and through the Walgreens app, bringing advanced hearing technology and customer-friendly, post-purchase support in a quick and easy transaction.
“Walgreens has been a trusted partner for us,” says Nic Klopper, CEO of hearX, the parent company of Lexie Hearing. “They share our vision of making hearing aids more accessible and affordable for the millions of people with hearing loss, and Walgreens also brings its massive national store footprint to provide the scale to reach them.”
The relationship began more than two years ago, with Lexie and Walgreens setting up pilot programs in select states, testing in-store and online models that included calls with Lexie Experts—the company’s trained hearing experts—and a microsite experience where customers could browse hearing aids in-store, then purchase direct from Lexie Hearing. From those tests came data points that were used to improve the customer experience as they prepared for the anticipated OTC launch.
“As we ran those pilots, we conducted consumer surveys,” says Klopper. “One of our biggest discoveries was how important it was for people to be able to ask questions of the pharmacist and staff. We learned that pharmacist involvement is so crucial, and that's why we made the adjustment to locate our product in the pharmacy, where they can be found now (see what Lexie Lumen looks like in a Walgreens store).
“The nature of buying hearing aids OTC is it’s easy and convenient and doesn’t require a pre-purchase consultation,” Klopper continues. “But we also acknowledge that this is a much higher priced item than most products at Walgreens, so we believe it’s important to involve a pharmacist in this purchasing journey to add a layer of trust. As one of the most respected brands in healthcare, Walgreens is well positioned to provide that level of care and trust to the consumer.”
Alexander Johnson, Walgreens category manager for senior care, was part of the team that identified Lexie Hearing as a partner, and helped put the trials into motion. For the Walgreens team, Lexie Hearing made sense.
“Lexie Hearing is a leader in the OTC hearing space, and the Lexie Lumen is an excellent product, with a great combination of capabilities, customer support and price that makes it more accessible to a significant number of people with hearing loss,” he says. “Walgreens has a store located within five miles of 78% of all Americans, and we now have hearing aids in more stores than any other retailer. So, the entire Lexie Lumen proposition fits well with Walgreens’ purpose of delivering more joyful lives through better health.”
Know more, hear better
If your hearing is impaired in some way, but you don’t know whether OTC hearing aids are right for you, there’s an easy way to determine your level of hearing loss without going to a doctor.
Using an online site created by Walgreens and Lexie, a free online hearing test can be done in two minutes in the comfort of your own home through your laptop, tablet or phone, with an accuracy rate exceeding 90%. You just need a pair of headphones to determine the level of your hearing loss. The test results will determine whether or not you are a suitable candidate for a pair of OTC hearing aids.
After completing the preliminary hearing test and confirming you’re a candidate for OTC hearing aids, it’s time to buy. Klopper identifies four important features to look for in Lexie Lumen hearing aids that set them apart:
- Digital, not analog. Digital hearing aids offer better features, functionality, and performance than analog.
- Self-fitting technology. Think about your hearing like a fingerprint, something that’s unique to you. Customizing your hearing aid to your hearing ability is something only self-fit hearing aids provide, with technology that is more clinically accurate, and is comparable to prescription hearing aids fitted by audiologists.
- Strong after-purchase support. Hearing aids are sophisticated technology that require initial setup, remote adjustments and fine-tuning by trained hearing experts to optimize performance, so it’s important that the product you’re considering has the support structure for your current and future needs.
- A reasonable return period. The first six weeks of transition into wearing a hearing aid can be daunting for some consumers. Physical fit and performance of the hearing aid is critical to an improved hearing experience, but if either falls short it is important to have a trial period long enough where you can test the product and return it free of charge if it doesn’t meet your needs.
How it works
Once you purchase a Lexie Lumen hearing aid at Walgreens, what can you expect next? When you get your hearing aids, it’s time to set them up, get them placed properly in your ears, take the in-app hearing test, have them customized according to your specific hearing needs, and if necessary, make additional remote adjustments and fine-tune them. All Lexie customers have direct video or voice access to remote Lexie Experts, who can assist with questions relating to the product or hearing loss. It’s like having an expert in your pocket.
To take the proprietary hearing test, connect your new hearing aids to the Lexie app through Bluetooth. With the hearing aid in your ear, a series of tones is played, and your responses then create a personalized hearing profile. And with the touch of a button, that profile can be remotely adjusted and optimized unlimited times by a Lexie Expert, who has full visibility into the settings of your hearing aid. The wearer can also make real-time adjustments to the hearing aid settings by choosing between the six environment settings available in the app.
Klopper illustrates the advantages of real-time adjustments using an example of dining with friends in a noisy, crowded restaurant.
“Say you’re in a restaurant and there are certain noises that are distracting, or you struggle to hear the people to the left, right, or in front of you,” he says. “With a Lexie Lumen hearing aid, you can instantaneously click on the app and select the environment setting of your choice. For wearers who need additional support, they can easily call a Lexie Expert, explain what they’re experiencing, and the expert would be able to make the necessary adjustment.’
Flexible payments, maximum accessibility
An important part of making Lexie Lumen hearing aids more accessible includes flexible payments and incentives. Walgreens offers a number of options to provide even greater value:
- Installment plans: Walgreens $39 per month plan over 24 months through its Walgreens Find Care program is designed to keep payments low and more manageable.
- myWalgreens credit card: Every purchase on the myWalgreens credit card earns 5% in Walgreens Cash rewards with no annual fee. Walgreens customers can also save 1% if they’re enrolled in the myWalgreens loyalty program.
- Flexible Spending Account: Lexie Lumen OTC hearing aids are FSA-eligible, so you can use pre-tax healthcare savings to fund your purchase. With FSA funds expiring at the end of the calendar year, Lexie Lumen hearing aids provide a smart opportunity to spend the funds before they’re gone.
- Senior discount day: Walgreens offers a 20% off purchase to seniors ages 55 and older on the first Tuesday of every month.
For more information on how Walgreens is working to improve hearing health, visit Walgreens.com/hearing.