The Evolving Nature of Private Practice: Catching Up with Meg Wetta and Sandra Miller

The Evolving Nature of Private Practice: Catching Up with Meg Wetta and Sandra Miller

Brian Taylor, Au.D.

Dr. Sandra Miller and Dr. Meg Wetta were featured in a 2014 issue of Audiology Practices. At that time, they had recently opened their practice, not knowing exactly what to expect or where things would go. Now, some eight years later, after experiencing the turmoil of COVID-19, the rise of managed care and the advent of OTC, we catch up with them again.

BT: It’s been 7-8 years since AP last caught up with you. Tell us what’s new in your practice?

MW and SM: Hi! We, Dr. Meg Wetta & Dr. Sandra Miller, continue to own Complete Hearing. We moved, purchased a building 6 years ago, added three full time Doctors of Audiology and just recently renovated the remaining 1000 square feet of our building to add a co-working space. Our first tenant is an ENT Physician that we both worked with before purchasing our practice 11 years ago!

BT: Impressive! Have you added anything else?

SM: Yes. We have added Cognivue, vestibular neurodiagnostic evaluations, ear piercing and are partnering with many other specialists to provide a holistic approach to care. So, we are broadening our array of services.

BT: How are you practicing differently since COVID-19 struck in 2020?

MW: We continue to hold true to our values of supporting our team both professionally and personally; encouraging and supporting them both inside and outside of work. We are better at telling them to stay home when ill and trying to practice this ourselves! COVID-19 also helped us in realizing we need to continue to push and go for our goals now, thinking outside the box and reinventing ways to best serve our patients. No complacency here. We have goals and want to crush them!

BT: Tell us how your marketing strategy has changed since the last time we talked with you?

SM: If only we had a magic wand for marketing! In years past we used direct mail, printing a lot of pieces on our own (in-house) or sent to a local printer in town. We now work with Bluewing, Chicago based company to ensure we are producing timely, target specific pieces with a long-term commitment that allows for more consistency in reaching prospects and keeping our database engaged. Social media and email blasts are also an addition for us. We feel the most important thing is that your messaging is not generic. We have fun, professional pictures taken annually. We design our own, practice-specific pieces that feature our brand and our staff. We also believe strongly in physicians marketing and community outreach.

BT: What are your thoughts on how OTC will change your practice?

MW: We believe there is space and a need for OTC, so we look to it as an addition to our practice, not something harmful. It is not only another piece we can add for a rehabilitative solution, but also serve those who may choose to purchase OTC elsewhere.

We don’t care what the patient bought or where they bought it, we will service it, answer their questions and be there when they need us.

BT: How about managed care? What kind of an effect has it had on your practice?

SM: Managed care… not our favorite! But a serious and necessary piece when you are in a market where two of the largest employers in your city have these types of plans. Two years ago, we signed a contract with one of the managed care plans. It has proven to frustrate us and, at times, the patients, too. Developing a streamlined protocol so you know what to expect lessens the frustration. What keeps us in the game is knowing we are participating for the right reasons – to bring the best care to the patients and allowing them to file for the benefit they are expecting.

BT: Staffing appears to be a challenge in many practices around the country. What advice would you give an audiologist who is trying to find and keep good employees?

SM: First, know the vision, mission, and values of your practice. Lead with this, always! Hire to your values. Use assessments upfront so you can determine personality type and the applicant’s working style. Include what personality or work skills someone has done previously in the job description. Direct them to your social media and websites. Hire someone who likes doing the tasks you don’t – then let them shine in their role without micromanaging! (It’s hard, but it works). Ultimately, love your staff hard – support them in and out of the office. Create a culture that is fun, team oriented and empowering. We have quarterly team coaching and monthly individual coaching for each team member. We complete quarterly challenges together (book clubs/walking/activity) then reward each challenge with a group outing somewhere. We have a group chat that is active daily with some work items, but mostly fun messaging amongst the team. Love them like they are your family. At CH we feel like we are family.

BT: Thanks for your time today. Any other advice for practice owners or those aspiring to be in your position?

MW: We believe in showing up. Opening a practice is overwhelming but also soooo fun and rewarding! It’s easy to be engaged in the beginning. It’s when the tasks become mundane or repetitive that you may lose energy. Stay the course and find ways to light your passion. Add services, go to CEU events multiple times a year (especially those out of state), network with other providers, send staff on events, plan events outside the office and/or do things together on the spur of the moment. It is so important to have a professional team to support you. Hire a CPA, financial advisor, business coach, attorney, and insurance agent locally. Don’t be afraid to change if your first pick isn’t your favorite. Finally, block schedule and stick to it. You will feel less stressed, more organized and have energy at the end of your day. Go home, hang with your family, or read a book!

BT: That is helpful and worthwhile advice. Thanks for your time today and congratulations on all your success. On behalf of Audiology Practices and ADA, I wish you the best. How can people reach you?

MW and SM: Besides all the major social media outlines, you can find us at where you can send us a note. We’d love to hear from you!. ■

Meg Wetta, Au.D. and Sandra Miller, Au.D. are co-owners of Complete Hearing in Lincoln, Nebraska.