Presidential Perspective

Networking: Grow Your Audiology Business Organically

Many clinicians are uncomfortable with the business side of running a hearing clinic. You probably didn’t get into the field to be a marketer, and yet marketing is the key to a successful hearing care practice’s steady growth.

Finding ways to stand out from your competition is challenging—and often expensive. Some clinics utilize paid online advertising (Google ads, Facebook promotional posts), while others invest in television commercials and billboards. Yet arguably the best and more frequently neglected option for attracting new patients is free: word of mouth. There is simply no amount of monetary investment that draws new clients like positive referrals from existing patients and trusted medical professionals.

Generate positive reviews online and in real life

The following are simple ways to generate positive reviews and referrals from your existing patient base:

  1. Include a couple sentences at the end of your patient’s summary of their visit, the bottom of your invoices, and in follow-up emails. Examples:
    • Let us know how your visit went! Review us here (link to Yelp, Vitals, Healthgrades, etc.).
    • We appreciate referrals! Tell someone you love we are here to help.
  2. Offer existing clients who refer new patients a percentage off their next visit. You can also offer a discount to those new patients off their first visits to encourage them to come through the door.

Consider offering a percentage off in exchange for a positive review (but include a request that if they have a concern or issue to contact your office directly instead of publicly reviewing).

  1. Leverage social media. Maintain a presence on Facebook and Twitter, at minimum. Encourage your patients to Like/Follow/Share your posts. Keep posts engaging with helpful tips for maintaining good hearing health, treating hearing loss, and just-for-fun posts (e.g., National Talk Like a Pirate Day). Personalize by including features and photos about yourself and others working in your clinic. Remember, you don’t have to produce all the content yourself! Share posts from your partners like Oticon Medical on bone anchored hearing solutions and other relevant topics.
  2. Offer yourself as an interview subject. Local news outlets (online and off) are always looking for informative, human interest, and helpful tips content to share. Call or email their editorial departments (you can find contact info on media websites) and offer yourself as an expert to discuss hearing issues. They get informative content, and you get free publicity – win, win!

Marketing your services through other medical professionals

Another often overlooked source of referrals are professionals in other health disciplines. Reach out to primary care physicians (PCPs) and specialists in comorbidities of hearing loss that communicates how working together can help improve their patients’ overall health. Informative points you can make in your outreach communications include the following:

  • Hearing health assessments are integral to overall health maintenance, on par with seeing an eye doctor for regular checkups
  • Unaddressed hearing loss can be an indicator of, or contributor to, numerous comorbidities
  • Treating hearing loss improves patients’ lives physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially
  • Mutual referrals would benefit their patients and practice as much as yours

Wondering how to get your mutual referral plan into the hands of local medical professionals? You can either work with a marketing firm to assemble a hearing care reference guide for physicians or assemble your own. Research the PCPs and specialists in areas with known connections to hearing loss (e.g., cardiovascular disease, cancer treatment) and send either a printed package or email to their office. You may even want to drop by in person to introduce yourself and offer them pre-printed flyers for their waiting rooms on hearing loss and treatment. Present yourself as an expert who is easy to work with and will help them offer a more integrated approach to their patients’ health… and of course, offer to mutually refer appropriate patients to them.

Most PCPs strive to offer their patients holistic care. If you position your clinic and its offerings as a way to help them achieve this, the benefits of partnering with you will become clear. Yes, this will require some investment in time and money, but the potential for referrals from multiple sources makes it worth your while.

Remember that we are here to help! Contact your Oticon Medical representative to get material on hearing losses treatable by bone anchored hearing devices like the Ponto™ 5 SuperPower you can repurpose as part of your patient and professional outreach programs.

Presidential Perspective

Why won’t good bone conduction candidates get implanted?

One of the most common challenges our hearing care professionals face is encouraging patients to undergo surgery to implant the Ponto™ implant system. It is understandable that many individuals balk when they hear the word “surgery,” particularly if they are parents of children old enough to be implanted. From my substantial experience in medical device sales, I’ve learned that the best way to overcome user objections is with facts. Fortunately, when it comes to minimally invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS), we have substantial data on the benefits of wearing processors on an abutment.

With that in mind, here are five of the most common objections to having minimally invasive Ponto surgery (MIPS) and our suggested responses.

Objection 1: I don’t want to have general anesthesia.

As any credible medical professional will tell you, there is always some risk associated with general anesthesia. Parents often express this concern with regards to their child undergoing implantation. You can help your patient (or their parent) feel better about undergoing the procedure by explaining that MIPS usually only takes about 15-30 minutes and is often performed using other types of anesthesia. In many cases, the procedure may not even be done in a hospital.

Objection 2: If I don’t need surgery for the Ponto to work, then why should I have it?

While it is true that patients who wear their Ponto processor on a softband still receive hearing benefits, implantation increases these benefits significantly. You can explain that when worn on an abutment your patient can expect better results. The Ponto on an abutment uses Direct Sound Transmission, which prevents sound dampening—a common issue with magnet and softband systems. It also allows Ponto devices to reproduce a greater variety of sounds. The sound waves are mechanical, and the signal is transmitted with minimal loss when the source of the signal and its receiver are directly connected by a conductor like our titanium implant. In comparison, sound transmission from a processor on a softband results in signal loss, as it transmits through skin, fascia, and other tissue on its way to the bone.

You can also show your patient this video to illustrate the differences between hearing through a Ponto on a softband vs. an abutment.

Objection 3:  I don’t want to lose time recovering from surgery.

Nobody wants to take significant time away from work or their home/social life for a long surgical recovery. Fortunately, you can reassure your patient that this is a small, usually outpatient procedure with an expectation of same-day admission and release. This is particularly true when utilizing the MIPS or MONO drill technique, which further simplifies treatment and reduces surgical time and the risks associated with surgery. In most cases, it takes no more than a day or two to recover from the procedure. After surgery, the patient can expect to wear a bandage or other protective covering for a couple of days during which time the biggest inconvenience will be not washing their hair.

Objection 4:  I don’t want to risk any potential side effects or negative outcomes.

Although there is never zero risk of side effects or other issues from any kind of surgery, you can reassure your patient by explaining that this is a minimally invasive technique that eliminates the need for suturing by using a smaller incision. This allows for fast recovery and fewer complications. In 95 percent of follow-up visits, no skin-related aftercare treatment was required. Plus there is a 98 percent implant survival rate with the Ponto implants.[1]

As for cosmetic concerns, MIPS was designed to avoid the need for stitches, which reduces scarring and allows the patient’s hair to grow back as it was before surgery.

Objection 5:  I don’t want the expense of a surgical procedure.

This one can be tricky, as coverage for any surgical procedure will vary depending on the kind of insurance your patient has. You can feel free to contact your Oticon Medical representative for general guidance on insurance coverage or you can direct your patients on a case-by-case basis to contact their insurance company directly or speak to our Insurance Support Team to find out what their insurer will or won’t cover.

Have you run into these objections or others when it comes to bone anchored implantation surgery? Share what you’ve heard and how you’ve managed them in the comments below! And if you need more advice on counseling your patients for PONTO MIPS procedures, please contact your Oticon Medical representative.

[1] Lagerkvist H, et al. Ten years’ experience with the Ponto bone anchored hearing system – a systematic literature review. Clin Otolaryngol 2020 Sep; 45(5): 667–680.

Presidential Perspective

A Launch Unlike Any Other: Ponto 5 SuperPower

In May of this year, the same month that our parent company alerted us that we were being sold, we launched our most anticipated new processor in years—the Ponto™ 5 SuperPower. With everything going on, I can safely say this was unlike any of our previous launches. We are excited to bring a significant upgrade in technology to our users who require extra power from their bone anchored hearing system and have been waiting for a new option since Ponto 3 SuperPower became available five years ago. Our sales team has been eagerly anticipating this new offering for some time, as have our hearing care professional customers.

Realistically, I know the acquisition by Cochlear continues to create uncertainty about promoting and selling Oticon Medical products among our professional customers. So let me tell you why, from our perspective, we are treating this like any other launch, and encourage you to join us in promoting Ponto 5 SP with all the fanfare this leap forward in technology deserves.

Ponto 5 SP will benefit your patients for years to come

Like our Ponto 5 Mini, which we launched earlier this year to an enthusiastic reception, the Ponto 5 SuperPower contains our most advanced technology, including:

  • OpenSound Navigator™, which provides significantly increased performance in speech understanding and lower listening effort[1]
  • OpenSound Optimizer™, for a unique and patented approach to providing premium sound quality with no audible feedback[2]
  • Oticon RemoteCare, our online platform that allows you to adjust your patient’s sound processor remotely for greater convenience

The Ponto 5 SP is now the world’s most powerful abutment-level sound processor. It offers added MFO allowing a fit for hearing loss up to 65 dB HL BC. In addition to the 360-degree sound provided by the OpenSound Navigator for proven better speech understanding in noise, OpenSound Optimizer offers  5 dB more stable gain with less potential for feedback. The device also utilizes low-energy Bluetooth® for direct connectivity to Apple® products and more.

Additionally, the Ponto 5 SP is an excellent option for your pediatric patients. Besides the high MFO and other benefits listed above, Ponto 5 SP comes with an integrated battery door lock, excellent battery life (approximately 54-120 hours), pediatric preferences settings, LED indicators, and more.

With all these benefits—better hearing, less feedback, and ease of use and maintenance—you should feel confident offering this new technology to your patients who will appreciate the extra power and those who have been waiting years for an upgrade to their previous superpower device.

Encourage upgrades to Ponto 5 SuperPower with confidence

Do you have patients already asking how to upgrade to the Ponto 5 SP or do you have patients you want to recommend do so? It is still a simple process:

  • Two insurance forms need to be completed and returned to our Insurance Services Department via email at insuranceservices@oticonmedical.com or by fax to 888-683-8736:
    • Patient Insurance Form. Your patient will complete and return the first form along with a copy of their insurance card
    • ENT Insurance Form. You as the audiologist or ENT will complete and submit this, along with the following:
  • A signed prescription for the ordered upgrade (must be signed by a physician)
  • Medical notes (should be within the last year)
  • Latest copy of patient’s audiogram (should be within the last year)
  • The filled-in Processor and Accessory Order Form

If you want to assist your patient with finding out whether they are eligible for an upgrade or you have questions about these submissions, please contact our Insurance Services Department at 855-400-9761. They are available Monday-Friday, 8am-8pm EST, or you can reach out to them anytime using the email address provided above.

Long-term concerns about supporting Oticon Medical products

Fine, John, you might be thinking as you read this. I’m convinced the tech is great and my patients definitely want it and would benefit from it. But what happens when Oticon Medical isn’t part of the equation anymore?

This is a fair concern, and one I will continue to address as this deal progresses. As part of the agreement, Cochlear has publicly committed to continuing to provide service to existing patients of Oticon Medical, now and in the future. This means you can and should feel comfortable recommending Oticon Medical products to your patients knowing that if they need assistance with them down the road, they will receive it. You should also reassure your patients on this score.

Until the deal closes Oticon Medical continues to do business as usual. That means we are here and ready to provide you and your patients with the high level of customer service and support you’ve come to depend on. If you need assistance with Ponto 5 SuperPower programming, troubleshooting, or just have questions about the technology,  please call our Auditory Technical Services (M-F, 8am-8pm EST) at 888.277.8014 and choose Option 4 when prompted or send an email anytime to audiologysupport@oticonmedical.com.

[1] 1. Manuscript in preparation, Data on File - Clinical study BC102
[2] Callaway, 2019. Introduction to OpenSound Optimizer™. Oticon Whitepaper

The Ponto 5 SuperPower

Technical Tips from Auditory Technical Services

We launched the much-anticipated Ponto™ 5 SuperPower in May. Clinicians and patients alike have been eager to experience the smallest, most powerful abutment-level bone anchored hearing device on the market. For this blog, we asked Auditory Technical Services to provide some tips for clinicians to consider when they are fitting this brand-new device.

What software do I need to program the Ponto 5 SuperPower?

There is a new update with Genie Medical BAHS for the Ponto 5 Superpower. You will need Genie Medical 2022.1. This can be obtained by using the Genie Medical (GM) Updater in your hidden icon menu. You can right-click to start the download and installation.

If GM Updater does not work for you or you cannot find it, feel free to call Auditory Technical Services at 888.277.8014 and choose Option 4 when prompted. We can send the software to you via a share link after account verification.

What features in the Ponto 5 SuperPower will benefit my patients?

The Ponto 5 SuperPower has all the wonderful features of the Ponto 5 Mini, but with added MFO allowing a fit for hearing loss up to 65 dB HL BC. Ponto 5 SuperPower also offers OpenSound Navigator™ for 360o sound that provides proven better speech understanding in noise, OpenSound Optimizer™ for 5 dB more stable gain with less potential for feedback and is built on the Velox S™ platform. As a bonus, this most powerful sound processor also has low-energy Bluetooth® for direct connectivity to Apple® products and other connectivity.

What wireless accessories are compatible with the Ponto 5 SuperPower?

Our entire portfolio of wireless accessories that patients have come to rely on are compatible with the new Ponto 5 SuperPower, including the ConnectClip™, EduMic™, TV Adapter™ 3.0, and remote control. As with the Ponto 5 Mini, this new device is Made for iPhone® and has the ability to stream an audio signal directly to the iPhone. Our Oticon ON™ app is available for use for both iPhone and Android™ users.

Which app(s) can be used with the Ponto 5 SuperPower?

  • Oticon RemoteCare for remote programming sessions
  • ON can be used for controlling the Ponto 5 SuperPower using a compatible smartphone
  • Ponto Care™ app is great for support and guidance, but also to help patients develop good cleaning and maintenance habits with their softband, abutment or Ponto processor
  • Lastly, Oticon RemoteCare allows providers to perform adjustments to patient processor settings during telehealth visits

I have a patient who wants to upgrade from the Ponto 3 SuperPower. Where do I start?

That is a great question! It is actually a very simple process. There are two insurance forms that need to be completed and returned to the Insurance Services Department at Oticon Medical: a Patient Insurance Form and an ENT Insurance Form.

  1. The patient will complete and return the Patient Insurance Form to Oticon Medical Insurance Services Department along with a copy of their insurance card.
  2. The audiologist and ENT will complete the other form, the ENT Insurance Form and return it to Insurance Services along with these documents:
  • A signed prescription for the ordered upgrade (must be signed by a physician)
  • Medical notes (should be within the last year)
  • Latest copy of audiogram (should be within the last year)
  • Processor and Accessory Order Form

The items can be returned to our Insurance Services Department via email at insuranceservices@oticonmedical.com or faxed to 888-683-8736. If you have any specific questions, our Insurance Services Department is happy to assist you by email or phone at 855-400-9761. They are available Monday-Friday, 8am-8pm EST.

Lastly, if you are wondering if the patient is eligible for an upgrade based on the age of their current Ponto processor, please contact Customer Service M-F 8am-8pm ET at 888-277-8014 (choose Option 1) or email anytime to info@oticonmedicalusa.com and they can quickly provide you with that information.

Is the Ponto 5 SuperPower MRI-safe?

No, the Ponto 5 SuperPower processor is not MRI-safe and should be removed prior to getting an MRI scan. However, the implant and abutment are MR-Conditional and may be subjected to a MR scan as long as following conditions are met:

  • Static magnetic field of 1.5 and 3 Tesla only
  • Maximum spatial field gradient of 3,000 gauss/cm (30 T/m)
  • Maximum MR system reported, whole body average specific absorption rate (SAR) of 4 W/kg in the first level controlled mode.

In non-clinical testing, the image artifact caused by the device extends approximately 10 mm from the Ponto Implant System when imaged with a gradient echo pulse sequence and a 3.0 Tesla MRI system.

What should I consider when fitting a pediatric patient with a Ponto 5 SuperPower?

You are off to a great start by considering fitting a pediatric patient with the Ponto 5 SuperPower. There are several benefits that you and your patient will appreciate, and we are excited to have an opportunity to touch base on a few of them:

  • High MFO, OpenSound Navigator & OpenSound Optimizer. The ideal choice to ensure audibility and output and headroom for the dynamic range of speech, sound processing technology that provides access to the full soundscape to support incidental learning, and advanced feedback management that prevents feedback without compromise, as it does not reduce gain.
  • Integrated battery door lock. There is no need to change out the battery door, because it has a locking mechanism right on the door that is intuitive to use and ensures the battery door is tamper-resistant to small fingers. Simply use the Multitool and turn the screw clockwise in the direction of the locked padlock icon to lock the battery drawer. To unlock the drawer, turn the screw counterclockwise in the direction of the unlocked padlock.
  • Excellent battery life with the 675 (CI) battery of approximately 54-120 hours.
  • Pediatric Preferences Settings. Directionality and noise reduction features based upon age of the child.
  • Age bracket notification. When a child comes back for follow-up, this makes it easy to identify if changes to the Pediatric Settings are due to be reviewed and adjusted.
  • Multiple pediatric Outcome Measures (ELF, CHILD, PEACH)
  • DSL-BC Pediatric Fitting Rationale. Found under Program Manager or set it as your fitting default under Preferences
  • LED Indicators for peace of mind (Start-up, Continuous, Program, and Volume Changes)
  • EduMic compatibility for school-friendly, easy-to-use FM connectivity or remote mic use
  • Parent-friendly Connectivity. Oticon ON App, direct-to-iPhone, Find My Processor, and  ConnectClip
  • Ponto 5 Softband. Coming soon! Anticipated for release in late summer 2022 (NOTE: implantation is contraindicated for patients up to 5 years of age)

Oticon Medical has a great resource for pediatrics. The Pediatric Fitting Guide is available on our website for download, or you can request hard copies for your clinic from your local Oticon Medical Clinical Specialist. ATS is available should you have any questions, or you would like fitting assistance.

I am fitting a Ponto 5 SuperPower for the first time, and I might need some assistance. Who can I call?

The Auditory Technical Support team is available and on standby to support you when you need it. You can reach us via email at audiologysupport@oticonmedical.com and by phone at 888-277-8014 (Option 4). Our hours are 8am-8pm EST.

About the authors

Gail Leininger, Au.D., CCC-A is an audiologist who has worked with implantable technologies for over twenty years. She is an Auditory Technical Specialist for Oticon Medical.

Nicole Maxam, Au.D. CCC-A is an Auditory Technical Specialist at Oticon Medical and joins the team with 17 years of experience as an audiologist.

Alicia Wooten, Au.D. CCC-A is a Senior Auditory Technical Specialist at Oticon Medical. She specializes in implantable hearing devices and has a strong passion for aural rehabilitation and its impact on patient outcomes.

Presidential Perspective

Sale of Oticon Medical to Cochlear: What Does It Mean?

I’m not going to pretend—this is a tough one, friends.

We recently hosted our annual National Sales Meeting in person for the first time since the pandemic began. It started off filled with excitement over the launch of our Ponto™ 5 SuperPower, anticipation for the launch of our cochlear implants later this year, and the simple joy of getting to interact live with our colleagues again. At the end of Day One, we all went home energized and looking forward to the rest of the meeting.

Then, on the beginning of day 2, I had to tell the team that Demant had decided to discontinue its Hearing Implants business area and reached an agreement to sell Oticon Medical to our biggest competitor, Cochlear™. You can click here to read the official announcement.

That morning is still a blur. Although much remains uncertain about how this process will unfold, one thing is clear—I can commit to you that ensuring the life-long care of Oticon Medical users is our primary focus.

I am still processing this like everyone else. But beyond those of us who work for Oticon Medical, I know the news is already affecting our valued customers and patients. My team has seen your expressions of shock, disappointment, anger, concern, sorrow—all reasonable and understandable emotions. I will attempt to ease your concerns to the best of my knowledge and ability.

A necessary caveat

One of the greatest challenges during the sale of a business, particularly when it and/or the purchaser is publicly traded, is the secrecy surrounding the process. Various business aspects must be negotiated and approved by not only the companies involved, but by stockholders, board members, and government agencies. It is a complex and often lengthy process during which scant information can be shared with the public at large or with most employees.

In the absence of facts, it is human nature to resort to speculation. We want to know, and so we seek clues and signs of where things might be headed and use those to weave our own narratives about the future. While natural and expected, it is an unhealthy practice for everyone involved, as unproven theories and guesswork may be expressed as factual during conversations or via social media.

With that in mind, here are the facts we know today.

What this acquisition means to customers and consumers

Most important of all, our launch of Ponto 5 SuperPower, the smallest, most powerful abutment-level sound processor available continues as usual! Enjoy the first-ever Ponto 5 feedback prevention system in a new, more powerful device.

As part of the transaction, Cochlear has committed to continue servicing existing patients of Oticon Medical now and in the future. This means you can feel comfortable continuing to recommend Oticon Medical products to your patients. In expressing his commitment to Oticon Medical’s customer base, Cochlear’s CEO and President, Dig Howitt, has stated, “…we will seek to ensure that Oticon Medical’s customers and patients continue to be supported with a lifetime of hearing solutions. We will work closely with Demant to ensure a seamless transition of the business to Cochlear to ensure continued access to current Oticon Medical technology for customers and patients in the coming years.” As the global leader in implantable solutions for hearing loss, Cochlear is well-equipped to provide excellent service and support to audiology professional customers and patients.

As for what this means for the future of Oticon Medical’s BAHS and CI technology, it has been publicly stated by Cochlear that it will “develop next-generation sound processors and services that will enable customers to transition to and benefit from Cochlear’s technology platform over time.”

The agreement is expected to be finalized in the second half of 2022. Until the ownership transfers to Cochlear, everyone here at Oticon Medical remains at your disposal and committed to providing the high level of service and support you’ve come to rely on from our company.

Those are all the facts for now. I hope your takeaway is that you can rest assured our team will continue to do our utmost to provide you with the service you need to enjoy better hearing with our Oticon Medical devices during this transitional phase. We thank you for having chosen our company for your hearing care business or personal needs, and for your dedication, passion, and support for our bone anchored and cochlear implant treatments. If you do have questions going forward, please contact your local Oticon Medical representative, or in the US reach out to us at info@oticonmedicalusa.com or 888.277.8014.

Insurance and Bone Anchored Hearing Systems

Your Frequently Asked Questions, Answered

If you are a practicing audiologist, chances are that you spend some time each week working on billing and reimbursement. Patients want to know what is covered;  you want to get paid for your services and run a profitable business. Audiologists are challenged with maintaining an understanding of billing and coding in an ever-changing healthcare landscape while treating patients using best practices. Your patients rely on you to give them the best service while also maximizing their health insurance benefits.

We know that the billing and reimbursement process can be daunting for busy clinicians. For this blog, we invited Oticon Medical’s Insurance Services Specialist, Brianna Rusay, to answer your most frequently asked questions about reimbursement as they pertain to bone anchored hearing systems (BAHS).

I am new to bone anchored hearing systems. What does my clinic need to prepare for ordering a device for a patient?

Your patient considering a bone anchored device will need to have up-to-date audiological and medical records as they pertain to their hearing loss and diagnosis. They should have a current audiogram performed by a licensed audiologist within the last year and a full medical evaluation by their physician, especially if they are considering surgery. Your patient’s current insurance information should be on file and your office should verify that your practice is in network with their insurance company if you plan to use your patient’s health benefits when ordering the device. You should be prepared to write a letter on your patient’s behalf justifying your choice of bone anchored hearing device as treatment for their hearing loss, and all documentation supporting your choice should be readily available. Finally, your clinic should have an established account with Oticon Medical to proceed with ordering one of our devices for a patient. You can contact your region’s Oticon Medical Clinical Specialist to set up an account with us.

Who looks into the patient’s benefits to see if they have coverage for surgery?

Surgical coverage will depend on both the surgeon and the hospital/surgical center where the surgery is performed. Oticon Medical has a team of insurance specialists who can check benefits and authorization requirements for BAHS surgery, or the hospital/surgical center can request the authorization directly.

Will my clinic be responsible for paying for the surgical supplies? What about the processor?

Reimbursement for the surgery is fully covered with two codes: 69714 and L8690. 69714 is for the BAHS procedure itself and both the facility and the surgeon can bill for this code. L8690 includes the sound processor, abutment, and implant. This code is considered Durable Medical Equipment (DME) and is typically billed by the facility. A DME contract with the insurance company must be in place in order to bill on this code.

What CPT code will I bill for the processor fitting?

Currently, there is no reimbursable code for a BAHS fitting. However, some insurance companies allow the miscellaneous code 92700 to be used for the sound processor fitting. When billing with this code, be sure to include detailed notes about what services will be included for this code and the breakdown of cost.

How will I get paid for my services?

If the insurance company allows it, you may use the miscellaneous 92700 code.  If the insurance company does not cover that code, the patient would be responsible for all fitting costs. Some clinics have chosen to bill the patient a fitting fee for their time spent in fitting the bone anchored sound processor. This fee can vary and can be up to the discretion of the clinic’s billing administrators.

What happens when it is time to upgrade the processor?

Oticon Medical will start the process of upgrades through insurance for your patient. Please refer your patient to our Insurance Services department and we will send them the paperwork to begin processing the request. To process an upgrade request, we will need the following:

  • Two completed intake forms (one from the patient and one from the clinic)
  • A signed prescription for the ordered upgrade (must be signed by a physician)
  • An audiogram (should be within the last year)
  • Medical notes (should be within the last year)

What if the patient is not eligible for surgery?

Many plans still have coverage for BAHS when worn on a softband, though Medicare does consider this a hearing aid and therefore it is not covered. The process for upgrades is the same for new (and upgraded) softband requests. If a patient is interested in wearing a Ponto on a softband, please refer them to our Insurance Services Department so we can begin the process.

What is the CPT code used for a Ponto on a softband?

Whether it is an initial softband request or an upgrade, the HCPCS remains the same: L8692.  This includes the sound processor and the softband.

Contact Oticon Medical’s Insurance Services Department for help

Although you might not know everything there is to know about insurance and benefits, we hope that by increasing your  knowledge and understanding, you feel more confident managing patients and their insurance benefits. If you have any specific questions about insurance benefits as they pertain to Oticon Medical’s Ponto family of devices, please contact our Insurance Services Department at (855) 400-9761 or mailto:insuranceservices@oticonmedical.com.

About the Authors

Brianna Rusay is the Oticon Medical Insurance Services manager. Brianna has a master’s degree in Health Services Administration and over 10 years of health insurance experience. Brianna has worked in both the health care provider setting and the insurance setting, with a primary focus on Durable Medical Equipment.

Dianna Tingle-Gould, AuD, CCC-A is the Clinical Specialist in the Southeast region for Oticon Medical. She has practiced in hospital and neurotology settings in Houston, Texas and Birmingham, Alabama. She completed her training at Auburn University in 2018.

Courtney Smith, M.A., CCC/A, is the Clinical Trainer for Oticon Medical. She in in her 19th year of practicing audiology. She has practiced in private practice and university hospital settings in Las Vegas, NV. She completed her training at the University of Iowa in 2003.

Presidential Perspective

We Can Help You Provide High-Quality Telehealth Service to Audiology Patients

I think you’ll agree that one major takeaway from the past two-plus years is that having virtual alternatives for providing patient care has moved from nice to have to necessary. The inability or inadvisability of meeting with audiology patients live in offices or clinics has taken a toll on business, and unfortunately delayed individuals in need of hearing devices from pursuing treatment. Considering the already sizable gap from diagnosis of hearing loss to purchasing hearing devices (an average of 7 years), we certainly didn’t need another barrier to spring up and further delay treatment. Yet here we are.

Previously, many audiology professionals expressed reticence to adopt telehealth options for hearing healthcare. The concerns ranged from not wanting to be “on call” 24/7 to reluctance to learn the new technology, and concerns about whether quality of care could be on par with in-person visits. While all valid concerns, what was once a value-added offering has become a must for treatments to proceed. And even though the worst of the pandemic appears (fingers crossed!) to be behind us, there is no way to know for sure that we won’t find ourselves in a similar situation, where in-person visits become impossible again. Not to mention we still have patients who, due to personal health issues, cannot travel easily to clinics for live appointments. Providing viable telehealth alternatives could be the deciding factor between a patient electing to go to your clinic or seeking help from your telehealth-friendly competition.

As your partner in providing end-to-end hearing healthcare solutions, we have added a major telehealth solution to our new family of Ponto 5 bone anchored hearing systems: Ponto 5 RemoteCare. Additionally, we continue to offer our Ponto Care app. The following is an overview of both of these conveniences, and how they help enhance the level of care you can offer BAHS wearers.

Ponto Care app

The free, secure, HIPAA-compliant Ponto Care app enables you to support and guide your patients from the Trial through Aftercare BAHS fitting phases. It aims to make patients more engaged, independent, and involved in their bone anchored treatment by providing them with a self-help tool right on their mobile phone. This allows them to have the best possible trial experience and insightful conversations with you, their hearing care professional, as they move through the process. Patients are guided as to how and where to use their Ponto, can rate different environments, take notes, send you a report, and much more. For example, during the Aftercare phase, you can take the first baseline photo of the implant site, and then show your patient how to use their phone’s camera to monitor their implant site and keep notes about their progress. These can be shared with you during your next face-to-face or remotely.

The best way to get the app set up is to download it with your patient while they are in your office. It’s easy to access from either the App® Store or Google Play™. Run through the app’s screens while explaining the importance of the report and clarify when and where to send the report according to your preferences. You can also send your patient a reminder a few days before a follow-up appointment if they haven’t emailed you their report yet.

Ponto 5 RemoteCare

Hold virtual appointments with patients and provide follow-up care, adjustments, and upgrades remotely using the Ponto 5 family’s RemoteCare option. Your patient will need to pair their smartphone with their BAHS, install the app, and set up an account. All required instructions for use are provided in the app itself. You and your patient will be able to see each other onscreen during appointments so long as both of you have cameras enabled, but if desired you can turn yours off. You can also text back and forth during the meeting if conversation via audio proves challenging. As you adjust your patient’s Ponto devices, they will see graphic indications that this is taking place, along with a notice that settings are being uploaded and when they have been completed.

One thing I’d like to stress: using RemoteCare does not mean you are expected to hop on appointments or adjust your patients’ devices around the clock. You arrange with them to set appointment times exactly as you would if you were meeting with them in your clinic. This is simply a convenient, viable alternative for patients who, for whatever reason, cannot or do not want to come into your clinic. Also, RemoteCare is for touching base and making fairly minor adjustments to devices. It is not meant as a substitute for care and treatment requiring more in-depth consultation, testing, or repairs.

Talk to your Oticon Medical rep about telehealth alternatives

Ready to learn more about our options for supporting you in providing high-quality virtual care to patients? Your OM representative will be happy to discuss your needs and our tools. For general information on the support we provide to audiology professionals, please visit https://www.oticonmedical.com/us/support/professionals/bone-conduction/.

Presidential Perspective

2022 Training Opportunities for Hearing Care Professionals

I consider providing training opportunities to clinicians an important element of being a full-service partner to our professional customers. Sadly, due to global issues beyond everyone’s control, our options to offer live training sessions were greatly diminished since 2020. Fortunately, due to our long relationship with Audiology Online, we were able to continue providing online training, and have had such a positive response to these that even with live trainings returning in 2022, we will continue offering online courses as well.

Below you will find our planned training opportunities, both in-person and online, for the first half of 2022. First though, a word about how we plan to keep everyone safe during our live events.

Live training Covid-19 safety guidelines

The health and safety of our customers is a priority. As states have re-opened and Oticon Medical plans to host in-person customer training, our plans include the following guidelines for all sessions with 10 or more attendees (including Oticon Medical staff). These guidelines are designed for the protection of you, our valued professional customers, as well as our employees and will remain in place until further notice:

  • For live training sessions with 10 or more individuals, attending Demant employees will be fully vaccinated and wearing masks.
  • All customers must sign a waiver stating they understand Oticon Medical will adhere to CDC Covid-19 guidelines for in-person seminars, and that they commit to complying with all rules and restrictions.
  • Some additional requirements may be put in place by the venue in which a training event is being held. The venue will provide attendees and Oticon Medical with any additional guidelines as needed.

And now, speaking of in-person training opportunities, here are the live courses we have planned so far. More will likely be added as the year progresses, so keep in touch with your Oticon Medical representative and check your email for future announcements.

Upcoming New Product Training

We will be offering training opportunities for select customers throughout 2022. As these arise, we will send out email invitations with more details about subject matter, location, and registration. Please keep an eye on your inbox for these exciting future opportunities!

Oticon Medical’s 2022 AAA Course Offerings

Oticon Medical will be offering four in-person training presentations at the 2022 AAA Conference, which is being held in St. Louis, Missouri. We look forward to seeing you at one or more of these sessions:

  • March 31
    • 12:30pm – 1:00pm Rm. IU202: Clinical Evidence Supporting OpenSound Navigator™ & Pediatrics with a Ponto Sound Processor
    • 1:10pm – 1:40pm Rm. IU211: Bone Anchored Hearing Solutions: The Ponto 5 Family & OpenSound Optimizer™
    • 1:50pm – 2:20pm Rm. IU220: Coordinated Adaptive Processing for the Oticon Medical Neuro Cochlear Implant System
  • April 1
    • 1:50p – 2:20pm Rm. IU320: The Oticon Medical Neuro Cochlear Implant System – Latest Technology in Cochlear Implants

To attend, please go to the AAA event’s online registration .

Audiology Online Oticon Medical Courses

Audiology Online will host the following online courses from Oticon Medical. For more details, including CEUs and hours offered, please click through the links provided below. You can check the AO website and your emails from us for announcements of additional courses throughout the year.

  • March 15: The Ponto Implant System: A surgical overview. This course will discuss surgical aspects of the Ponto implant system, including details on Osseointegration, Minimally Invasive Ponto Surgery (MIPS), and MONO surgery, providing valuable information to any clinician recommending bone conduction amplification.
  • April 15: Ponto 5 Mini Advanced Fitting Techniques – Adult and Pediatric Populations. This course will train clinicians on best practices and advanced fitting techniques for fitting the Ponto 5 Mini for both adults and children. This course will use case studies to illustrate examples of challenging fitting scenarios for adults and children.

We look forward to welcoming you to a live training or seeing you on onscreen at one of our live webinars soon!

Audiology Awareness: An Important Conversation

“What do you do for a living?”

“I’m an audiologist.”

“What’s that?”

If you are an audiologist, chances are you have had a version of this conversation with someone.

As I enter my 19th year of audiology practice, and I reflect on the number of times that I have had to explain my field of work to someone that I just met, my mind is filled with questions. We live in changing times in the field of audiology, in which over-the-counter hearing aids have been approved by the FDA, and patient performance has significantly improved thanks to the advances of hearing aid and hearing implant technology. As clinicians, we are able to give our patients with varying degrees of hearing loss more treatment options than ever. At the same time, multiple recent studies have shown deep connections between hearing loss and other health problems, such as dementia, depression, and a heightened fall risk.

Thus, the question begs to be asked: In 2022, why are there so many people who don’t know what an audiologist is?

Why raising public awareness about audiology matters

In my quest to answer this question, I happened upon an original study published in 2022 by the Hearing Health Collaborative in Otology & Neurology. This study, entitled “Awareness, Perceptions, and Literacy Surrounding Hearing Loss and Hearing Rehabilitation Among the Adult Population in the United States”,[1] took a deep dive into our adult population’s mindset about hearing and hearing loss.

This study, which included 1,250 surveyed adults between the ages of 50 and 80, revealed that for this group, addressing hearing loss was third to last on a list of 11 health conditions that people felt needed to be prioritized. This study also revealed that only 9 percent of survey respondents could identify what constituted “normal hearing”, while 93 percent could accurately identify what is considered “normal vision”. The survey respondents overwhelmingly stated that they would be more likely in the next 12 months of their lives to take their pet to a veterinarian (59%) than to get their hearing tested (27%). Another interesting takeaway from this study is that only 15 percent of primary care physicians regularly screen their patients for hearing loss during regular check-ups.

This study comes at a time when, although treatment options for hearing loss have increased and become more advanced, adoption of those treatments amongst patients remains low. Current estimates are that only about 20 percent of the adult population with hearing loss seek treatment for their condition in the form of hearing aids or implantable devices.

What’s next for audiology?

Audiology has come far in the last few decades, but we still have work to do. What are some action items that we can perform to promote the services we provide as audiologists and encourage others to move hearing health to the top of their priority list?

Encourage loved ones to get their hearing checked

We can start our efforts at home. Often, we joke with our significant others and family members about selective hearing, but the reality is that I don’t know when my own mother last had her hearing tested. Audiologists are well-versed in the research that earlier is better when it comes to seeking treatment for hearing loss. We can speak up and encourage regular hearing tests amongst our own friends and family and teach them why identifying hearing loss early makes a difference. We can promote audiometric screenings and widen the reach of our profession by starting with those in our inner circle.

More research is needed

We need to discover why the adoption rate of hearing loss treatment is so low. The study I mentioned above leads to more questions, such as:

  • What piece are audiologists missing in educating our patients?
  • How can we do better?
  • This particular survey was completed in people aged 50-80. What about younger adults?
  • How can audiologists work to reach the population in their younger years to start promoting hearing health sooner?
  • How prevalent is gender, cultural, and age bias toward adopting treatment?
  • How can we work to improve the barriers to treatment, such as reimbursement and that low referral rate from primary physicians?

For clinicians, questions lead to more questions, and the need for continued research in this important area cannot be minimized.

A call to action

Hearing loss is invisible. No one can see it. It can cause poor quality of life, social isolation, and difficulty in relationships. Audiologists can normalize regular hearing screenings and bring hearing health from the back burner to the front of people’s minds. Our gift to give as audiologists is to bring that human-to-human connection that’s driven by good conversation back to those who have lost it due to their hearing loss. One by one we can work to make sure that the next time someone asks what you do for work, and you tell them you’re an audiologist, you get a nod and a knowing smile.

March 3rd is World Hearing Day

As I googled hearing loss awareness and explored the internet for information to add to this article, I found that March 3rd is World Hearing Day as designated by the World Health Organization (WHO). Audiologists can take this moment to celebrate what we do and promote to our patients the importance of making hearing health a top priority. Perhaps it’s a good opportunity to invite new and existing patients to your office for an annual hearing screening. World Hearing Day is a global initiative that we can use to our advantage to spread the word about the effects of hearing loss on quality of life and why treatment matters.

About the author

Courtney Smith, M.A., CCC/A, is the Clinical Trainer for Oticon Medical. She in in her 19th year of practicing audiology. She has practiced in private practice and university hospital settings in Las Vegas, NV. She completed her training at the University of Iowa in 2003.

 

[1] M.L. Carlson, et al, Awareness, Perceptions, and Literacy Surrounding Hearing Loss and Hearing Rehabilitation among the Adult Population in the United States, Otology & Neurology, Vol. 43, No. xx, 2022

 

Presidential Perspective

3 Tips for Cultivating a Strong Network of Advocates

One of the things that most impressed me when I joined Oticon Medical-US was its devoted network of consumer advocates. These are people from all around the country, from many different walks of life, connected by our Ponto™ devices—either as wearers of our bone anchored hearing system or as parents/caregivers to child wearers. This has bonded them not only to one another, making them an extended “family,” but also to our company, to which they are extremely loyal and publicly supportive.

Marketing, PR, and advertising are all important to a business’s success. But bottom line, you simply cannot duplicate the kind of goodwill, virality, and corporate confidence produced by a strong network of consumer advocates. So how can you cultivate yours? Here are three tips that have certainly worked well for us.

1.  Communicate with consumers throughout the sales process—and beyond

One of the simplest, and yet often ignored, methods for engendering consumer loyalty is clear and consistent communication. This must begin from the consumer’s entry into the sales funnel through their conversion into a customer, and then continue for as long as they remain a customer. This can be as simple as scheduling regular emails informing consumers about upcoming product releases, events, and other corporate goings-on of interest. You can increase or decrease these scheduled emails based on analytics showing open rates, click-throughs, and unsubscribes—if too many emails are being ignored or causing people to unsubscribe, then reduce the cadence. A/B testing can also help you determine which subject lines and matter garner the most interest, so you can refine your email content over time.

Additional points of contact should include company-run forums, in which consumers can ask questions or present concerns. We have a community called Oticon Medical Friends that is open to our Ponto wearers and caregivers to wearers, along with two Facebook Groups, one for all wearers and one exclusively for our advocates.

And it goes without saying that you should make it easy for consumers to contact you via email, telephone, direct message, or online chat—and when they avail themselves, someone at the business should answer them immediately, or at least within 24 hours during the work week. For when no one is available (over the weekend or during holidays) set up automated responses, so that consumers receive acknowledgement and have their expectations set as to when they will receive a response.

2.  Provide customer service that exceeds expectations

There is a reason customer service is considered a “frontline” position. They are your business’s spokespeople, and it is by their words and deeds your company will be judged. Empower your customer service team to not only meet the basic expectations of being polite, friendly, and helpful, but by going above and beyond. Little extras like shipping for next-day delivery so a person doesn’t have to wait on a necessity go a long way toward building loyalty. So does tracking down a solution for an issue that may require work beyond the initial contact. Customer service reps should regularly inform the waiting consumer of the concrete steps being taken on their behalf. Maybe throw in a little extra like free batteries, or a spare part along with the item ordered. Remember that old shampoo commercial, where “They’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on…?” That certainly holds true for recipients of excellent customer service.

3.  Show your passionate consumers lots of love

Loyalty to a brand or business should be appreciated—loudly, and as frequently as possible. How do you do this? By putting together an advocacy program that encourages the bringing aboard of new advocates while rewarding the old. A strong advocacy program should include events, such as meetings to introduce newer advocates to your company’s leadership team and other advocates. Provide them with “insider” information on upcoming product releases and actively solicit their input for future development of new products and features.  You can recognize your top advocates with an annual award or by creating an upper tier for all advocates to strive toward. In our case, we have Ambassadors, who are our top advocates, and they receive perks such as their own special event annually.

The bottom line…

Yes, these efforts require investments of time and money. They also yield the kind of loyalty and devotion most brands only dream of having and enable you to extend your reach well beyond typical sales and marketing efforts.