By Kathryn Sutherland
James Gilchrist joined WS Audiology in May 2021 serving as the first Chief Transformation Officer for the US market with oversight of WS Audiology’s US Strategy & Corporate Development functions, Program Management Office, Wholesale Information Technology team, and Government Services division. He became President of HearUSA in January 2022.
Kathryn Sutherland: Welcome, James. Can you share why HearUSA rebranded?
James Gilchrist: Our new HearUSA brand vision is anchored by a commitment to reframe the way clients learn about, experience, and purchase custom fitted, professional hearing aids. We want to simplify the experience and empower our clients on their hearing health journey. We believe it is time to break down the stigma around hearing loss and meet our client’s changing needs, as they are tech savvy, proactive, and have high expectations. It’s important to capture their passion for life, reflect their need to be in control of their hearing health, and help them connect with the world around them.
Sutherland: What are some of HearUSA’s goals following this rebranding?
Gilchrist: Our new HearUSA brand unites 1,000 team members, 360 hearing centers, and 28 brands with a shared ambition to change one million more lives by 2028 through Simply Excellent Hearing Care. For our clients, we want to simplify the hearing care process, break down the stigma around hearing loss, and meet our clients’ changing needs to empower them on their hearing health journey. Whether it’s their first visit or a follow-up appointment, our hearing care professionals are here to partner with our clients to uncover their hearing challenges and provide a recommendation based on their needs and lifestyle so that they can experience the life-changing benefits of better hearing.
For our team members, the new brand represents our commitment to be the best place to work in the industry. We’ve made substantial investments in the training and professional development of our team members to ensure they are equipped to deliver on our promise of Simply Excellent Hearing Care to our clients. To be the best place to work we also believe our team members must have a strong voice in shaping the future of the new HearUSA. That idea led to the formation of an HCP Advisory Board, a representative group of HearUSA HCPs that partners with the HearUSA support center and corporate team to develop key programs and initiatives that will help us achieve our goal to become the best place to work for our team members and our ambition to change one million more lives.
Sutherland: Can you explain the meaning of ‘Sound of the New Age?’
Gilchrist: The Sound of the New Age is a single, unifying thought that ties all the elements of the HearUSA brand together. Sound refers to our solutions; easy to use and customized with technology, ahead of the curve. New age refers to our modernized centers and touchpoints that elevate the experience during the hearing care journey. Our client-centric focus puts them at the heart of everything we do.
Sutherland: How will HearUSA’s physical locations change?
Gilchrist: With the rebrand, HearUSA now has 360 hearing center locations across the country, with more to open in 2023, staffed by hearing care professionals equipped with the hearing care expertise required to customize hearing aids to each client’s unique needs. In addition, our bold new visual merchandising expresses our brand personality and accurately reflects our clients. HearUSA is also excited to roll out its first new concept store in Florida in the coming months. Newly built centers will have our new design going forward and we have plans to expand our hearing center footprint in 2023 as part of our journey to change one million more lives through Simply Excellent Hearing Care over the next five years.
The first new center will feature a “Sound Studio” that empowers clients to participate in their hearing health. Inside the Sound Studio, clients can experience an immersive audio and visual environment that truly replicates the unique hearing enhancements they will experience through HearUSA’s industry leading hearing solutions. The centers are intended to reframe how clients learn about, experience, and purchase hearing aids by enabling them to experience sound in the way that works best for them.
Sutherland: How will the customer experience improve?
Gilchrist: Through our client-centric focus of Simply Excellent Hearing Care, our centers will provide the best recommendation based on each client’s specific needs and lifestyle.
It’s all about what makes the HearUSA client experience unique:
- We help you Experience the Sound. During appointments, our clients are able to try on different hearing aids from multiple leading brands and begin the journey of reconnecting with friends, family, and the world around them.
- We help Maximize the Benefits. As the leader in managed care within the industry, we can help clients make the most of their valuable insurance benefits and have flexible financing options.
- We help you Hear Better Today. Our Test, Advise, Fit and Go service means clients can leave with hearing aids the same day they’re evaluated.
Sutherland: Can you elaborate on HearUSA’s Hear Better Today program? How is this program unique to HearUSA?
Gilchrist: Our Hear Better Today program focuses on our Test, Advise, Fit and Go service. Most hearing-impaired clients wait, on average, seven years to seek a solution for their hearing loss. Normally, they visit a hearing center and if convinced, they must wait while hearing aids are ordered and again for a delivery appointment. In some cases, they lose interest and many even change their minds before the delivery arrives. At HearUSA, we have implemented the Hear Better Today program that allow our hearing care providers to have a variety of brands, technologies, and form factors on hand. This enables our professionals to demonstrate a customized solution for every client after they perform a comprehensive hearing evaluation. Clients are delighted to find a solution without delays and start enjoying the life-changing benefits of better hearing right away.
Every client can enjoy better hearing the same day they visit a HearUSA center. In the event they are not sure about which hearing aids to choose, they are invited to enjoy better hearing through our no-risk trial period. To ensure the trial succeeds, we offer remote assistance and datalogging, a sophisticated system that monitors hearing aid usage in multiple environments.
Sutherland: How will HearUSA change the way hearing care is delivered to consumers? What impact will HearUSA’s rebranding have on the greater world of hearing health?
Gilchrist: HearUSA wants to reframe the way clients learn about, experience, and purchase custom fitted, professional hearing aids. Hearing loss is the third most common physical condition adults face, yet only 1 in 5 seek a solution to address their hearing loss. By removing the complexity, simplifying the process, and removing the stigma around hearing loss, we can increase the number of people that seek help for their hearing health. Our purpose is to provide wonderful sound for all.
Sutherland: Thank you for sharing this information with me and our readers.
James Gilchrist joined WS Audiology in May 2021 serving as the first Chief Transformation Officer for the US market with oversight of WS Audiology’s US Strategy & Corporate Development functions, Program Management Office, Wholesale Information Technology team, and Government Services division. In January 2022, James was appointed as the President of US Hearing Care Retail for WSA. James brings extensive retail healthcare and managed care experience to his role leading WSA’s US Hearing Care Retail business having previously led retail, franchise, buying group, and managed care businesses. As President, James is focused on achieving HearUSA’s ambition to change one million more lives by 2028 through Simply Excellent Hearing Care.
WSA’s US Hearing Care Retail business consists of HearUSA and MyHearingCenters with 460 locations nationally and more than 1,000 team members. With the newly launched unified HearUSA brand, James will lead the growth and expansion of WSA’s US Hearing Care Retail businesses. James joined WSA from EssilorLuxottica where he most recently served as Senior Vice President of Strategic Alliances & Solutions. During his tenure, he led Essilor of America’s government, managed care, buying group, franchise, optical retail, and distribution divisions. Prior to EssilorLuxottica, James was a Principal Consultant for SEI, a business and technology consulting firm, where he led strategic initiatives for clients across multiple industries. He began his career as a Medical Services Corps officer in the United States Air Force where he held various healthcare administration executive leadership roles. James holds a Master of Science in Technology Commercialization from the Red McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the United States Air Force Academy.