Lively Sells and Supports ReSound Hearing Aids Online
Breaking New Ground in Teleaudiology
A well-funded startup company is attempting to break new ground in the direct-to-consumer hearing aid market with a full suite of internet-based teleaudiology services.
Lively not only sells affordable, high-quality hearing aids over the internet. It also offers web-based hearing assessment and testing, face-to-face video conferences with audiologists, and two years of online adjustments without ever having to visit the doctor's office.
With $16 million in backing from top venture capital firms, the New York company is offering hearing aids for $2,350 per pair (or 24 monthly $98 payments at 0% APR, for qualified buyers).
Update: Lively has updated its pricing. A pair of Lively hearing aids is now available for $1,650 or “as low as $69/m”.
Premium product features
Lively’s ReSound-brand hearing aids enable wireless audio streaming from iPhone and iPad via Bluetooth®. And they come with an app for both Apple and Android phones to control volume and other settings. Among other things, Lively’s BeMore mobile app (produced by GN Hearing) enables up to four personalized presets to optimize settings for different listening environments, such as the office, traffic, or noisy restaurants.
The hearing aids feature directional microphones and dampen extraneous background noise to improve speech recognition. And when a phone is held to the ear, they automatically switch to a setting that diminishes volume in the other ear to make it easier to understand the caller.
But beyond an affordable price for a pair of Made-for-iPhone hearing aids, Lively's extra competitive advantage comes from its end-to-end online service model.
Comprehensive teleaudiology services
A Lively customer starts at home with a web-based hearing screening test (the ASHA Self-Test for Hearing Loss) followed by a self-administered online tone test developed by Lively. (Customers who already have current audiograms can skip the test and simply upload them to Lively.)
A remotely-based Lively audiologist uses the test results (or an existing audiogram) to provide initial programming for the hearing aids. Then, when customers receive their hearing aids, they can have unlimited consultations with Lively hearing professionals via videoconference for 2 years. They can receive as many programming adjustments downloaded through the smartphone app as they need.
While an online hearing test is less comprehensive than a test administered in a sound booth in an audiologist's office, Lively claims that with multiple face-to-face video consults and as many adjustments as required, it's possible to provide a good fit for patients.
Some of the world's biggest hearing aid brands—including Signia, ReSound, Phonak and Oticon—have established teleaudiology capabilities through their brands’ smartphone apps. But rather than interacting directly with patients, most manufacturers are putting teleaudiology tools in the hands of the independent audiologists who sell their hearing aids. Those audiologists are increasingly offering remote care to patients, but usually only after initial in-office fittings.
“Our mission is to increase the number of patients receiving care while allowing audiologists to work in more flexible environments with less overhead,” said Lively CEO Adam Karp.
Our mission is to increase the number of patients receiving care while allowing audiologists to work in more flexible environments with less overheadAdam Karp - Lively CEO
That reduced overhead enables competitive prices that Lively says are less than what you pay at a traditional audiology practice. Lively’s prices are more in line with the economy prices charged at Costco's in-house hearing-aid departments.
For example, at $2,350, Lively hearing aids are $150 less than the $2,500 Costco quotes for a pair of name-brand ReSound Vida Made for iPhone hearing aids. And they come with a 100-day money-back guarantee, a two-year warranty covering routine repairs, and a two-year loss/theft/catastrophic damage policy offering a replacement hearing aid for $195.
A founder with hearing loss
Lively also walks the walk in the hearing aid world with a founder who suffered permanent, sudden hearing loss in 2013 and got her first pair of hearing aids in 2015. Nicole Cadoret, head of design, says her experience coping with hearing loss has made her a passionate advocate for education and adoption of hearing aids.
The other founders are CEO Adam Karp, an experienced online marketing executive, and CTO Elad Kolet, formerly of Facebook and Microsoft. Lively was founded out of Redesign Health, a New York-based venture studio focused on building consumer health businesses that improve access and elevate patient experience.
The $16 million A round of venture capital was led by Declaration Capital, the family office of David M. Rubenstein, which focuses on venture, growth and family-owned investments. Rubenstein is the co-founder and co-executive chairman of The Carlyle Group. Tiger Management also participated in the round.