DECEMBER 2008
CALIFORNIA AUDIOLOGIST HOWARD MANGO:
WE NEED TO KEEP PUSHING PROFESSIONALIZATION

His Prosperous Orange County Clinic to Open Additional Office, Install
Second I-Portal® NOTC

AUDIOLOGIST HOWARD MANGO

Howard Mango

Brooklyn-born Howard Mango wanted to be an actor. After high school on Long Island, he headed west to enroll at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He took acting classes and, like any number of would-be Brad Pitts through the ages, chased after Hollywood audition spots.

Alas, the acting did not work out. Despite winning some roles in summer stock and regional musical theater – including a gig alongside friend and later-to-be sitcom star John Ritter – Mango realized that acting was not going to be his ticket to a good living.

As he looked at his alternatives, a voice class he had taken at USC sparked an interest in understanding more about hearing and speech. Mango set his goal on pursuing a career as an audiologist. He went back to school, earning a doctorate in audiology at USC and completing other graduate work at the Universities of Arizona and Virginia, where he also taught.

He first worked full time as an audiologist for an ENT clinic in Orange County, California.  “In those days, audiologists were something of glorified technicians,” he remembers. “I could see the positive impact we had for the patients and knew there was so much more I could do for them as an audiologist.”

In the late 1970s, Mango took the entrepreneurial plunge and launched his own clinic in Orange County.

NOTC
Monitoring the data and coaching the patient through on the battery tests in the I-Portal® NOTC.

Today, Mango’s Newport Mesa Audiology, Balance and Ear Institute (www.dizziland.com) is busy, prosperous and, despite the challenging economic environment, steadily growing. The clinic offers an array of evaluations for hearing and balance problems, as well as therapeutic services.

In addition to Mango and the support staff, the 9,000-square-foot clinic has four other audiologists, each seeing 10 to 15 patients a day. (A fifth audiologist is joining soon.) Some patients complete a sequence of tests that utilize neuro-otologic testing, including ocular motor and vestibular ocular reflex evaluations.

About 90 percent of the patients are referrals from a network of some 700 area internists, family practitioners, neurologists and others.

“We’ve worked very hard to build up and nurture our referral base,” Mango says. The clinic has a full-time marketing director, responsible for the outreach to referring physicians and the organization’s other robust business development activities.

“Marketing is very important to us,” he says.

QuoteThe strategy must be working. In a few months, Mango will open his second clinic, in Southern Orange County, to serve an area that has seen fast population growth. And he is already in the planning stages for a possible third facility.

“I realized early on that this is about both business and audiology. To be successful as audiologists, we have to think big,” he says. “We offer a more extensive array of services, such as vestibular repair and other rehab, and take a wider range of patients, including the very young, than perhaps other audiologists do.”

But like an Oscar winner sharing the limelight with his co-stars, Mango says that he has benefited from the overall professionalization of audiology.  An expanded array of evaluations made possible by better diagnostic tools, the founding of the American Academy of Audiology and more stringent academic requirements have been factors behind the rising stature, he says.

“I can’t say that I’ve made this all happen by myself,” he says. “I have a committed, hardworking team here. And I was lucky to get my clinic going just as audiology was being taken more seriously in the medical community.”

Last year, Mango purchased an I-Portal® NOTC (Neuro Otologic Test Center) from Neuro Kinetics. The clinic had been using a rotational chair from a competing manufacturer, but Mango grew frustrated with that company’s indifferent customer support and clunky software.

“I read about Neuro Kinetics and decided to look into replacing the chair we had,” Mango remembers. “Needless to say, I’m glad I did. Neuro Kinetics’ NOTC has performed exactly as promised. It’s been a real catalyst for us.”

So much so, in fact, that Mango has ordered another NOTC for the new office.

“The NOTC has enabled us to expand the scope and quality of evaluations we can do in the clinic, and that gives us the ability to develop better patient diagnosis while keeping that revenue stream in-house,” he says.

As an example, Mango notes that an NOTC evaluation can detect abnormalities in eye
movements that might indicate central nervous system problems. That type of testing is not possible with an MRI.

Still, there is ample room for growth in the practice of audiology, Mango says, adding
that the inability to do imaging evaluations
or dispense prescriptions is frustrating.

“As audiologists, we have to work
with what we can do. As clinicians,
we should keep striving for high education
standards. And as business people, we
must be willing to invest in expansion.
Buying the NOTC from Neuro
Kinetics has certainly paid off financially
for us,” he says. “We need to keep
on pushing the professionalization
of the practice area. The need
is there.”



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