Author Archives: Hildy Silverman

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.

EduMic – The Easy FM Connectivity Solution

We all know the importance of supporting children with hearing loss when distance, noise, and reverberation affect listening and learning in a typical classroom setting, but what do you do when the student wears a hearing device? What if they need to use an FM system in the classroom? Before your head starts to swim and eyes glaze over, I have great news for you—Oticon’s EduMic™ is a product you will fall in love with! Oticon Medical’s Ponto™ device[1] works together with the EduMic to maximize children’s speech understanding for language development, learning, and socializing opportunities.

The EduMic is a remote microphone system (RMS) featuring 2.4 GHz wireless technology. Built on the Velox STM platform, the EduMic features advanced signal processing, including OpenSound NavigatorTM technology. When noise, distance, and reverberation become challenging in the classroom, EduMic is a vital partner to the Ponto processor. EduMic uses the same innovative open sound technology found in other Oticon Medical[1] products to analyze, balance, and remove noise. It delivers stable and clear access to the teacher’s voice by continuously monitoring the environment and removing unwanted noise—even between words.

Designed for dynamic learning environments and built to last

Beside its ability to be used as a remote microphone, the EduMic provides easy access to an FM system in use at school without the teacher needing to wear two microphones. EduMic also enables access to a variety of audio sources to ensure that students stay connected and engaged during class. Teachers can plug the EduMic into a computer, smartboard, or tablet using the 3.5 audio microphone jack connection. The audio jack also allows easy integration with existing sound field systems, accessing multiple audio sources and microphones simultaneously. Smaller and lighter than many remote microphones at just 32 grams,  EduMic features a sleek, modern design and 10-hour battery life.

Built to last, EduMic is robust and designed to handle the demands of everyday life and withstand accidental dropping. EduMic uses a single rechargeable Li-ion battery that can be left charging overnight without fear of overcharging. Signal strength is also thoroughly tested in a typical classroom environment to ensure a high-quality connection. The 2.4 GHz signal is strong and stable even in a typical WiFi-heavy environment when the teacher is speaking through EduMic.

EduMic teacher and student benefits

Best of all, teachers love EduMic! A usability study conducted by Oticon Inc. examined teacher’s perspectives on ease of use, discreetness, attractiveness in relation to design, and also wearing comfort.[2] The study showed teachers have a strong preference towards EduMic’s design and comfort compared to a competitor’s remote microphone solution. Teachers rated EduMic as easier to use compared to a leading device on the market, very user-friendly to pair and mute, and very comfortable to wear.

According to a study at Boys Town National Research Hospital, researchers found a significant improvement in speech understanding in a noisy and reverberant environment for students fitted with hearing aids wearing the EduMic.[3] Speech understanding improved as 6 dB more noise could be tolerated in the noisy environment test condition when EduMic was used with hearing aids compared to using hearing aids alone. In the noise + reverberation condition, 5 dB more noise could be tolerated when EduMic was used together with hearing aids over hearing aids alone. The results support the positive impact of using EduMic compared to hearing aids alone in both noisy and noisy + reverberant acoustic environments. EduMic allows children with hearing aids to handle poor signal-to- noise ratios in the classroom.

EduMic is available as a Ponto accessory choice

EduMic and our Oticon Medical bone anchored hearing devices are based on our BrainHearing™ technology, which is designed to deliver what the brain needs to make sense of sound. We are excited to announce that this extraordinary remote microphone system  is now available as a free accessory choice with Oticon Medical Ponto orders! Do you have pediatric bone conduction patients to whom you would like to offer EduMic as an accessory option? To learn more about the many exciting features in our Ponto processors and their clinical benefits, including integration with the EduMic accessory, please contact your regional Clinical Specialist.

About the Author

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.

For more information on EduMic, please visit:

[1] Ponto 4 and Ponto 5 Mini
[2] Gordey & Rumley 2019 Enhanced Learning with EduMic Oticon White Paper
[3] Data on file

Presidential Perspective

Hearing Industry Events are Coming Back

As I write this, live events are back… but, with variants of the Covid-19 virus in play, a level of uncertainty lingers over how many will actually occur as planned. I’m going to be optimistic though and focus on the exciting events we plan to hold and attend in the upcoming year with all my fingers and toes crossed that nothing derails those plans.

There is no true substitute for live events

During the pandemic, the hearing healthcare industry made do like everyone else by holding or attending events online. However, there’s no denying that valuable components of live events were lost when we couldn’t meet with our peers and valued customers face-to-face.

Live events generate energy and excitement from being around others who are equally passionate about sharing innovations and ideas for advancing hearing technology and improving services to patients and clinics. Conversations using the same hearing industry shorthand and acronyms remind us that we’re all part of the same extended family. Although we’re able to share that through Zoom or Teams or whatever online platform, the level of camaraderie just isn’t the same.

Another significant loss is the unplanned get-together. If you have ever attended an industry event, you know exactly what I mean. Whether it’s an invitation to grab coffee and catch up, conversations held around the lunch table, or an informal “hang” at the bar in the evening, these unplanned social interactions simply cannot be replicated virtually. I will go so far as to say, without discounting the high value of informative planned programming, it is during these spontaneous meetups where the most engaging and mutually beneficial conversations are held.

While industry panels and lectures are helpful, informative, and extremely valuable—and fortunately translate well to being conducted online—I’m sure you’ll agree we miss the hands-on components like live demos. We all want to be able to pick up and examine new product offerings or try out new surgical techniques like our MONO drill. Again, there is no online substitute for in-person product introductions and interactions.

What you can look forward to from Oticon Medical in 2022

We are planning events for our professionals in 2022 centered around upcoming product launches. There will likely be more to come, either virtually, live, or a hybrid of both, but for now, they include the following:

  • Multiple Neuro2 Cochlear Implant System training events (throughout the US)
  • Multiple PONTO bone anchored hearing system new technology launch events (throughout the US)

We are also planning on having a presence at the following trade shows:

However we wind up interacting—online or in-person—rest assured you can look forward to more exciting and informational events from Oticon Medical throughout 2022. I hope you will join us!

Help Patients Remotely with Ease

Oticon RemoteCare for Oticon Medical

Are you finding that patients are more aware of and interested in remote care? Over this past year I think we can all agree that the demand for hybrid services to meet our patient’s needs has increased. The need for telehealth and remote care options continue to expand across many areas of healthcare, including audiology services. As part of our ongoing commitment to providing excellent customer care we are excited to bring you Oticon RemoteCare for Oticon Medical.

With the launch of the Ponto™ 5 Mini, your patients now have the option to meet you online using this secure, convenient, and focused solution. Offering this value-added service to your clinical practice can enhance your clinical efficiency and provide your patients with increased access to your services and expertise—saving time and resources.

Genie Medical BAHS fitting software makes it all possible

Using our unique and intuitive fitting software, Genie Medical BAHS 2021.2, clinicians can provide follow-up fittings with ease.  In fact, all fitting adjustments can be completed remotely except for running feedback manager.  So, while your patient sits in the comfort of their home, you can optimize their programs, counsel them on the use and care of their sound processor, complete BC In-situ measurements, adjust the gain, create specialized programs, and much more! The clinical and patient requirements are few and it’s easy to get started.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In summary, Oticon RemoteCare for Oticon Medical is a new resource in Genie Medical BAHS that works with the Oticon RemoteCare App* to provide remote follow-up appointments. This distinctive service is only compatible with the new Ponto 5 Mini Sound Processor. Providing secure video and text chatting, this service supports but does not replace the audiologist. In fact, it helps patients and hearing healthcare providers stay connected beyond the constraints of distance, time, and resources.

Do you have bone conduction patients who you would like to offer Oticon RemoteCare as an option? To learn more about the many exciting features in the Ponto 5 Mini and its many clinical benefits, including Oticon RemoteCare, please contact your regional Clinical Specialist.

About the Author

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.

For more information on RemoteCare, please visit: https://www.oticon.com/support/remote-care

 

*RemoteCare App is available in the App® Store and Google Play™

Important Notice
Remote care is not a substitute for an in person fitting of a hearing aid. Providers must schedule in person appointments with their patients to confirm the fitting settings as soon as practical. RemoteCare is not a substitute for clinical judgment and does not make clinical determinations. Providers are responsible for programming the appropriate settings in RemoteCare pursuant to their own clinical judgment. Providers performing RemoteCare services must be licensed in the state in which the patient is located during the RemoteCare session or comply with the appropriate state’s telehealth rules during this global pandemic. It is solely the responsibility of the provider to determine and adhere to local licensing laws.

 

 

Presidential Perspective

Successful Hearing Healthcare: It’s All About the Patient Experience

There are so many different pieces of advice, best practices, tips, and tricks for clinicians out in the zeitgeist, you’ve probably heard or read them all. From my perspective, they all boil down to the patient experience. If you provide patients with a superior experience working with you during each stage of their hearing treatment process, success will follow naturally.

When it comes to defining patient experience, I default to the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would want to be treated. In this scenario, begin by putting yourself in your patient’s shoes.  They have lived at least part of their life with little to no hearing and experienced its associated hardships—struggling to keep up with conversations, falling behind in school or at work, and feeling fatigued every night after straining to hear all day. Yet you are leery of treating your hearing loss with a bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) because it involves surgery, you aren’t sure if your insurance will cover it, and all of the other standard objections.

Now ask yourself: how you would want to be treated by your hearing care professional during your journey to better hearing?

Starting down the path to improved hearing

We are fortunate here at Oticon Medical to have an engaged and informative team of patient advocates who have shared their experiences—positive and negative—in detail over the years. What I have learned from them is the following:

  • Patients want their hearing care professional to get to know them as a person with unique experiences related to their hearing loss, not just as the next appointment on someone’s schedule
  • They want you to provide as much information about each treatment option as possible, not just be handed a list of potential solutions and expected to do their own research
  • They want to know they can depend on you and the manufacturer of their selected device for continued support, not only immediately after implantation and activation, but for as long as they have their BAHS
  • They want to know they can afford the surgery, the device, and their visits to you pre- and-post implantation. Willingness to work with them to arrange financing and being able to help them understand their insurance coverage options will help you stand out from your competition
  • They want you to be clear, realistic, and honest about the pros and cons of bone anchored hearing with regards to the surgical procedure, the device, and post-implant expectations

A common goal makes Oticon Medical your partner of choice

When you and your patient select a Ponto BAHS, you get more than a highly effective product that requires only minimally invasive surgery. You get a partner in helping you provide the excellent customer service your patient expects and deserves. We also believe in getting to know our Ponto users making them feel like part of an extended Oticon Medical family by offering our advocacy program, online support groups, put them in touch with current wearers, and much more. We provide clear and detailed information about our products and services on our website and in brochures and guides so that your patients can quickly and easily get their questions answered about life with a Ponto.

Our Customer Service Team is available from 8 am to 8pm Eastern Time daily to support patients for as long as they have their Ponto device, and additional support can be requested through email 24/7 or through social media by sending direct messages to us via Facebook, or as members of Oticon Medical Friends.

We also have an Insurance Support Team that can help users find out what their insurer covers, either private or Medicare/Medicaid, and assist them with filling in all the paperwork required to get their surgery and Ponto device.

Now introducing an even better patient surgical experience: MONO

As for the surgical procedure itself, we have introduced the world’s first one-step drilling procedure for BAHS: the MONO treatment for adults 18 years of age and older. Our unique drill allows you to create a complete osteotomy in a single step. This groundbreaking new procedure offers your patients excellent aesthetic outcomes and fast recovery times.1,2 MONO can also help improve your procedural efficiency by reducing the number of instruments and implant components needed in the procedure. With the tailor-made MONO Surgery Kit, your staff will find it easy to prepare for and handle implant installation. And clinics that already use the minimally invasive MIPS technique have reported reduced surgical time, staffing, and running costs.3

You can book a demonstration of the MONO drill and find out how it can benefit you and your procedural efficiency today!

References

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1. Caspers CJI, et al. A clinical evaluation of minimally invasive Ponto surgery with a modified drill system for inserting bone anchored hearing implants. Accepted in Otol Neurotol 2020.
2. Holmes S, et al. Tissue preservation techniques for bone anchored hearing aid surgery. Otol Neurotol. 2021; Publish Ahead of Print.
3. Sardiwalla Y, et al. Direct cost comparison of minimally invasive punch technique versus traditional approaches for percutaneous bone anchored hearing devices. J. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017;46(1):46.

Introducing OpenSound Optimizer

OpenSound Optimizer™ (OSO) is a technological first to detect and prevent feedback from occurring. It is a transformative and multi-patented technology that controls Feedback Shield LX.[1] It is a new first line of defense against feedback buildup, which allows the second line of defense, the updated underlying feedback management system, more time to be precisely deployed when it is needed.

How does OpenSound Optimizer work?

The new OpenSound Optimizer defies conventional technology with a new, unique, and patented approach to feedback management.  OSO is proactive and can detect and prevent audible feedback from occurring.

The OpenSound Optimizer uses spectro-temporal modulation (STM) to disrupt the positive loop gain and break a potential feedback buildup before it occurs. It is designed to work as a proactive system that prevents audible feedback from occurring by monitoring the microphone input sound in 28 frequency channels, 56,000 times per second. A soft and non-intrusive spectro-temporal modulation is briefly applied in select frequency channels where there is a potential for feedback[1] and this effectively stops feedback as we know it before it occurs.

Spectro-temporal modulations are modulations or patterns that change over time and across the 28 frequency channels. The modulations can be seen on a spectrogram as a striped pattern in certain frequency regions where dark stripes indicate areas of low energy (figure below). These stripes show that the output is very briefly reduced. The low energy areas are extremely short (16ms), and they are followed by short periods (16ms) of fully restored gain. One low energy and one high energy period is equal to one 32ms cycle. It typically takes around 60ms for audible feedback to be fully detected and prevented in the system, which is different than traditional hearing aids that typically take 500ms or more to eliminate audible feedback instability in dynamic environments.[1]

Spectrogram showing the patented breaker signal made using STM

Premium sound without audible feedback

The benefit is that patients can enjoy the full dynamics of sound without having to worry about any unwanted sound interference, because the OpenSound Optimizer technology prevents audible feedback before it occurs.[2]

Optimal gain throughout the day

Traditionally, in order to prevent feedback with conventional technology, the system is reactive to audible feedback and the gain on the device is lowered, which means less than ideal sound for the user due to reduced access to sounds. With OpenSound Optimizer, users now benefit from stable gain throughout the day with no audible feedback, as the feedback is mitigated before it is about to occur. This provides an overall improvement in sound quality due to the increase in headroom, the additional available stable gain, and prevention of whistling.

More sound to the brain – an impact beyond better hearing

With BrainHearing™ technologies such as OpenSound Navigator™ and OpenSound Optimizer, patients now have access to more sound and higher signal integrity than ever before. A study conducted by Oticon using OPN S hearing aids with OpenSound Optimizer[1,2] has demonstrated 30% more speech cues throughout the day, improvement in speech understanding and reduction in listening effort, due to its feedback management algorithm.

Ponto 5 Mini bone conduction hearing system features OSO

Powered by the Velox S™ platform, OpenSound Optimizer enables Ponto 5 Mini users with 6 dB more gain without the risk of feedback.[1] This unique approach to feedback gives users a stable speech signal and more sound dynamics in their daily life. The Ponto 5 Mini provides more sound to the brain and a better listening experience for patients.

Do you have patients who still haven’t experienced the benefits of OpenSound Navigator, OpenSound Optimizer and other BrainHearing technologies? To learn more about the revolutionary Ponto 5 Mini sound processor and its many features, we are offering a one-hour CEU course through Audiology Online on October 27, 2021 at 12 PM Eastern (please click through link to register). For brochures and a product demonstration contact your regional clinical specialist.

About the Author

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

[1] Callaway 2019 INTRODUCTION TO OPENSOUND OPTIMIZER Oticon White Paper
[2] Data on file at Oticon Medical