Hearing aids are now so sophisticated that they have features hardly anyone but audiologists are aware of, much less understand. Most of us just want to put them on and be able to hear, but like any device, the more you know the more you can benefit. This is as true of hearing aids as it is of smartphones and computers. In fact, the latest hearing aids are mini-computers.
Posts Categorized: Hearing Aids
Today, Signia (formerly Siemens) unveiled the Signia Pure® 13 BT, the company’s first Made-For-iPhone (MFi) hearing aid, and the world’s first true telehealth-supported hearing aid with iPhone audio streaming capabilities. The Pure™ 13 BT is also the first hearing aid to use iPhone motion sensors to improve hearing for speech when walking, jogging, or in the car, and reportedly the first hearing aid to provide both “high-definition binaural hearing” and Bluetooth® audio streaming (from a connected device).
Starkey Hearing Technologies is upgrading its Halo and Muse hearing aids with its next-generation Acuity OS2 sound-processing solution, an improved TruLink 4.0 smartphone app, the new SurfLink Mini Mobile streamer, and a rechargeable battery option from ZPower.
Widex hearing aids have traditionally been the preferred choice for musicians and others seeking superior sound quality. Widex’s newest hearing aid, Beyond, promises to meet consumers’ expectations on sound quality, while also delivering iPhone connectivity, telecoil support, and compatibility with all of Widex’s proprietary wireless devices.
The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2016, sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), would allow certain hearing aids to be sold over the counter and would eliminate the “burdensome requirement” that consumers get a medical evaluation or sign a medical waiver before purchasing OTC hearing aids. The Act would also require the FDA to issue regulations containing safety and labeling requirements for OTC hearing aids and to update its draft guidance on Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs). The senators said they would introduce the legislation when Congress reconvenes before the end of the year.
Hearing Aid technology has evolved tremendously in the last 20 years. I bought my first hearing aids in 1996, and the big hype back then was that they were the first digital hearing aids on the market and that they were CICs (Completely-in-the-Canal). It was a major milestone to not only create a hearing aid that was minature, but also digital.
Over the 23 years that I’ve been a hearing aid wearer, I’ve been described by several of the audiologists I’ve worked with as a “challenging” patient. Hopefully, for the most part, it’s a description that’s offered with a wry smile. I can’t tell you if that’s the case though, since I’m totally blind.
While most audiologists do their best to provide an appropriate hearing aid fitting on day one, the hearing aid fitting itself is typically considered just a starting point. After the hearing aid fitting, hearing aid users are typically scheduled for at least one follow-up visit to check progress, address issues, and make any necessary hearing aid tweaks. The first few visits are typically bundled into the cost of new hearing aids, and are considered essential for anyone wanting to get the most bang for their buck out of their new devices. But all too often buyers forego these free follow-up visits, either due to time constraints or neglect, missing an opportunity to receive important counseling, troubleshooting help, and hearing aid fine-tuning. Some consumers run out of patience with the process completely, with at least 1 out of every 10 having a hearing aid “in the drawer.”
The majority of advertising on the web, in-print publications, and on the radio and TV devalues the importance of proper hearing evaluation, needs assessment, counseling and overemphasizes discounts and promotions— and promises miraculous results with hearing aids only. Many of these practices can get away with providing a lower standard of care because consumers are focused on the wrong thing—the hearing aid—and they are not as educated (like HLAA members are) about what clinical services they should expect and demand.
The center of the tech world finally seems to have discovered a technology that’s already at the center of many people’s lives: hearing aids. In recent months several hot Silicon Valley venture-capital-funded startups have emerged aiming to address one of the world’s biggest consumer technology opportunities — reaching the tens of millions of consumers with hearing loss who currently don’t use hearing aids.