In Germany, patients with hearing problems can go to a GP (General Practitioner), an ENT specialist (Ear Nose and Throat doctor) or a hearing aid dispenser (in Germany called Hörgeräteakustiker = "hearing aid acoustician").
In any case an ENT specialist must prescribe a hearing aid, if the patient wants any reimbursement from his health insurance. So usually, patients will either go
The ENT specialist makes an examination and decides whether or not a hearing aid is prescribed. The regular way following this prescription can be shortly described as follows:
The patient chooses a hearing aid acoustician and hands over the hearing aid prescription. The hearing aid acoustician selects, fits, and fine tunes the hearing aid. After completion of the entire fitting process, the patient is sent back to the ENT specialist who verifies the benefit of the hearing aid. This benefit confirmation is required for a reimbursement from the health insurance. The patient returns to the hearing aid acoustician who finally sells the hearing aid (including the process of reimbursement by the health insurance and the direct payment by the patient). All follow up and aftercare is done by the hearing aid acoustician.
This regular pathway is choosen by more than 90% of all patients. Therefore, its particular elements are decribed in more detail in the following.
A few patients choose the so called 'abbreviated pathway'. Within this pathway, the hearing aid is directly sold by the ENT specialist: The ENT sends the audiometric data to a hearing aid manufacturer and gets back the prescribed fitted hearing aid. The ENT specialist performs basic fine tuning, verification of benefit, follow up and aftercare himself. Since the elements of this abbreviated pathway are not as transparent as in the regular pathway we only concentrate on the regular pathway in the following. The German rehabilitation pathway is illustrated below.