Category Archives: Audiology

Beyond Hearing: Music Appreciation for BAHS Users

Beyond mere entertainment, music plays a profound role in shaping human experiences and enriching quality of life, socialization, and psychosocial well-being.1 In fact, listening to and making music is touted by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a way to improve quality of life.2

One of the most profound ways music enriches our lives is through its ability to evoke and express emotions. Listening to music, as well as specific music therapy, has been shown to improve anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness, and even fatigue.3

Beyond its emotive impact, engaging with music stimulates cognitive functions and enhances brain health.4 For individuals facing cognitive decline or additional communication disorders, music therapy has emerged as a promising intervention for preserving cognitive function and enhancing overall quality of life. Music therapy is often utilized when targeting social and communication skills and is beneficial for both the pediatric and adult population.5

Music has a remarkable ability to foster social bonds and cultivate a sense of belonging within communities. Whether it’s attending a concert, participating in a choir, or simply sharing playlists with friends, music provides a shared language through which people connect and communicate. By increasing an individual’s social interaction, we can not only provide enhanced social support, but also reduce loneliness and isolation.2

How hearing loss impedes music appreciation

Unsatisfactory music appreciation in individuals with hearing loss, with or without hearing aids, has been well documented. Research shows that individuals with post-lingual hearing loss of any degree note a significant decrease in music enjoyment post-onset of hearing impairment. Additionally, those with more severe losses noted a greater decline in music enjoyment both with and without amplification. Individuals with single-sided deafness noted music to be less natural, pleasant, and distinct than before the onset of hearing loss.6

While music appreciation and perception has been studied in individuals with cochlear implants and hearing aids, with varying results, there is a lack of similar research into bone anchored hearing systems (BAHS).

Music perception in BAHS users

By utilizing a myriad of quantitative tasks evaluating pitch, harmony, rhythm, and timbre, a recent study aimed to fill this gap and compared music appreciation and perception in BAHS users and peers with normal hearing. BAHS users included in the study were diagnosed with either asymmetric hearing loss or single-sided deafness. As noted above, without some form of amplification, these individuals not only experience speech perception difficulty, but unsatisfactory music perception and appreciation. The present study found that when utilizing a bone anchored device, users not only obtained similar scores when comparing their BAHS ear to their “better ear,” but they also performed similarly to their normal hearing peers. These findings are important, as they show that BAHS can help to maintain the integrity of music for users.7

When focusing on the Ponto™ system, users had better scores on instrument identification tasks when compared to users of a competitor’s device.7 Let’s dive into how Oticon Medical maintains music integrity and improves quality of life for our users.

Ponto and music appreciation

98 percent of all users report an increased quality of life after minimally invasive Ponto surgery8, and as we discussed prior, a large part of quality of life is music! But how do the Ponto 5 family of hearing processors maintain music integrity?

Figure 1: Maximum Force Output (OVFL90)

Figure 2: Output 50 dB SPL, Full-On Gain

  • Optimized output (Fig. 1) and uncompromised gain (Fig. 2) – Not only do Ponto 5 Mini and SuperPower hearing processors provide access to an increased dynamic range, but they provide appropriate gain and better audibility for even soft sounds.
  • No risk of feedback – While charts and graphs can show how much gain is provided by a product, those figures don’t take feedback into account. As a user moves through their day, the risk of feedback is ever-present; whether they’re hugging a loved one or taking off a hat. With traditional feedback management, gain is reduced whenever feedback is present. This limits users’ gain throughout the day. The Ponto 5 processor employs a feedback management strategy that not only maintains gain but prevents audible feedback.
  • Special programs – Ponto 5 makes several preset special purpose programs available to its users, including one for music. This program is specifically designed to further maintain music integrity by increasing gain for the mid and high frequencies and reducing compression for low frequencies.

As research and innovation expand our understanding of the therapeutic benefits of music, it becomes increasingly crucial to acknowledge and appreciate its profound influence on human well-being. Whether experienced in the concert hall or integrated into therapeutic settings, music exemplifies the resilience of the human spirit and the profound transformative effects of artistic expression.

At Oticon Medical, we know music occupies a central place in the human experience, enriching our lives on multiple levels—emotionally, cognitively, and socially. We view our users holistically ensuring their quality of life beyond improved speech understanding alone.

References

  1. Looi, Valerie & Rutledge, Kate & Prvan, Tania. (2018). Music Appreciation of Adult Hearing Aid Users and the Impact of Different Levels of Hearing Loss. Ear and Hearing. 40. 1. 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000632.
  2. Fancourt D, Finn S. What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review [Internet]. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe; 2019. (Health Evidence Network synthesis report, No. 67.) SUMMARY. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553775/
  3. Bradt J, Dileo C, Myers-Coffman K, Biondo J. Music interventions for improving psychological and physical outcomes in people with cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2021, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD006911. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006911.pub4. Accessed 29 February 2024.
  4. Hanna-Pladdy, B., & MacKay, A. (2011). The relation between instrumental musical activity and cognitive aging. Neuropsychology, 25(3), 378–386. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021895
  5. Jamie B Boster, Alyson M Spitzley, Taylor W Castle, Abby R Jewell, Christina L Corso, John W McCarthy, Music Improves Social and Participation Outcomes for Individuals With Communication Disorders: A Systematic Review, Journal of Music Therapy, Volume 58, Issue 1, Spring 2021, Pages 12–42, https://doi.org/10.1093/jmt/thaa015
  6. Meehan, S., Hough, E. A., Crundwell, G., Knappett, R., Smith, M., & Baguley, D. M. (2017). The impact of single-sided deafness upon music appreciation. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 28(05), 444-462.
  7. Jiam NT, Formeister EJ, Chari DA, David AP, Alsoudi AF, Purnell S, Jiradejvong P, Limb CJ. Music Perception in Bone-Anchored Hearing Implant Users. Laryngoscope. 2024 Mar;134(3):1381-1387. doi: 10.1002/lary.30919. Epub 2023 Sep 4. PMID: 37665102.
  8. Lagerkvist H, et al. (2020). Ten years of experience with the Ponto bone anchored hearing system – A systematic literature review. Clin Otolaryngol. 45(5):667-680.

 

The Holger’s Scale vs the IPS-Score

A Review of Percutaneous Implant Complication Scores for Audiologists

What is the Holger’s Scale?

The Holger’s Scale was created as a measure of the clinical status of soft tissue surrounding a titanium implant, such as the Ponto™ System. Its goal was to evaluate the frequency and magnitude of adverse reactions more effectively in this population in future research.1

How was it developed?

The foundation of the Holger’s Scale was a comprehensive study that examined 60 patients who received 67 abutments/implants. Patients were followed for periods ranging from three to 96 months. Over this period, only one implant was removed for reasons associated with skin complications.1

Why is this relevant for audiologists?

The Holger’s Scale is a simple tool that clinicians can use to record any adverse skin reactions ranging from swelling and redness to skin overgrowth and implant removal. Additionally, this measure is often utilized in research regarding percutaneous implants.1

Where do most patients lie on the Holger’s scale post-Ponto implantation?

Studies show that Ponto implant patients, when undergoing the MIPS or MONO procedures, typically have minimal skin-related complications as noted by a Holgers Score of ≤2.2,3 Remarkably, 97 percent of patients exhibit no or minor skin reactions post-operatively.

Are there any limitations to the Holger’s Scale?

Kruyt et al. (2017) suggest several limitations to the Holger’s Scale despite its simplicity and usability.4 These include:

  • The scale can be used to indicate treatment, but these decisions are not standardized.
  • The scale was designed to evaluate skin reactions three months post-operatively, and thus cannot evaluate complications in healing.
  • The scale does not evaluate any pain reported by the patient.
  • Skin height, in regards primarily to skin overgrowth, is not noted in the original Holger’s scale. Often, skin overgrowth can lead to abutment changes or revision surgery.

Additionally, it does not describe possible complications of transcutaneous implants. Due to these limitations, a new scale, the IPS-Scale, was developed to evaluate complications related to percutaneous and transcutaneous implants.4

In response to these limitations, the IPS-Scale was developed to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of complications related to both percutaneous and transcutaneous implants. The IPS-Scale differentiates between the two types of implants and assigns scores for specific categories, such as inflammation, pain, and skin height (for percutaneous implants) or skin numbness (for transcutaneous implants). These individual scores are then combined to generate the IPS-Score, offering a more nuanced guide for treatment selection.

The three scores are then combined to generate the IPS-Score, which then can be used to guide treatment selection.4

No matter which scale you utilize, Ponto implantation patients experience minimal complications post-operatively, and thus benefit from excellent skin outcomes, favorable aesthetic results, and fast recovery times with few complications.5,6

References

  1. Holgers KM, Tjellstrom A, Bjursten LM, Erlandsson BE. Soft tissue reactions around percutaneous implants: a clinical study on skin-penetrating titanium implants used for bone-anchored auricular prostheses. Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants. 1987 Winter;2(1):35-9. PMID: 3471713.
  2. Holmes, S., Hamiter, M., Berry, C., & Mankekar, G. (2021). Tissue preservation techniques for bone-anchored hearing aid surgery. Otology & Neurotology42(7), 1044-1050.
  3. Data on file at Oticon Medical, Clinical study BC108
  4. Kruyt, I.J., Nelissen, R.C., Johansson, M.L., Mylanus, E.A.M. and Hol, M.K.S. (2017), The IPS-scale: A new soft tissue assessment scale for percutaneous and transcutaneous implants for bone conduction devices. Clin Otolaryngol, 42: 1410-1413. https://doi.org/10.1111/coa.12922
  5. Oticon Medical Whitepaper – The MONO procedure
  6. Lagerkvist H, Carvalho K, Holmberg M, Petersson U, Cremers C, Hultcrantz M. Ten years of experience with the Ponto bone-anchored hearing system—A systematic literature review. Clin Otolaryngol. 2020; 45: 667–680. https://doi.org/10.1111/coa.13556
Female audiologist with female patient

Medicare Updates and Audiology Changes for 2024

New Bone Anchored Codes and Payment Adjustments

Key Takeaways:

  • Starting January 1, 2024, audiologists will be able to bill for diagnostic analysis, programming, and verification of auditory osseointegrated devices (92622 & 92623)
  • The codes are timed codes with 92622 representing the first hour of service and 92623 serving as additional 15-minute increments
  • The CMS has lowered their conversion factor to $32.74, making the reimbursement for 92622 & 92623 $77.59* and $19.97* respectively

 The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed significant changes for audiology services in 2024. Audiologists will see the introduction of two new timed codes effective January 1, 2024, which describe the analysis, programming, and verification of an auditory osseointegrated sound processor like the Ponto bone anchored hearing system (BAHS). Additionally, the CMS has proposed payment adjustments and continued telehealth coverage. Let’s dive into the details.

New Auditory Osseointegrated Device (AOD) Services Codes

Starting from January 1, 2024, audiologists will be able to use two new CPT codes for Auditory Osseointegrated Device (AOD) services. These codes are designed to cover the diagnostic analysis, programming, and verification of an auditory osseointegrated sound processor:

  • 92622: Diagnostic analysis, programming, and verification of an auditory osseointegrated sound processor, any type; first 60 minutes.
  • 92623: Diagnostic analysis, programming, and verification of an auditory osseointegrated sound processor, any type; each additional 15 minutes (use 92623 in conjunction with 92622).

A keynote is that these codes are applicable to audiologists without a physician’s referral for a non-acute hearing condition. Furthermore, they include tasks such as attachment of the processor, device feedback calibration, device programming, and verification of processor performance for various types of auditory osseointegrated sound processors.

Important Points about AOD Services

  • Timed Codes: The new codes, 92622 and 92623, are timed codes that describe the first hour and each subsequent 15 minutes of time spent on the analysis, programming, and verification of an auditory osseointegrated sound processor.

If an evaluation lasts less than 30-minutes, 92623 (code indicating additional 15 minutes) should not be billed independently from 92622. Additionally, the -52 modifier should also not be used with 92622 or 92623 in this case. Instead, 92700 (unlisted Otorhinolaryngological Service or Procedures) can be used with the proper documentation and justification.

  • Reprogramming: These codes may also be used for reporting subsequent reprogramming of AODs.
  • Restrictions: Notably, CPT codes 92626 and 92627 may not be reported in conjunction with 92622 and 92623.

Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Changes and Reimbursement

CMS has adjusted the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) for the calendar year 2024. Key highlights include an overall payment rate reduction of 1.25 percent in calendar year (CY) 2024 compared to CY 2023. The final CY 2024 PFS conversion factor is $32.74, representing a decrease of $1.15 (or 3.4 percent) from the CY 2023 conversion factor of $33.89.

*According to the American Academy of Audiology, the “CY 2024 Final Payment” for non-facilities for the new service codes will be as follows. Note final reimbursement is dependent on your locality:

  • 92622 –  $77.59
  • 92623 – $19.97

Click the links below for more information regarding these important changes:

Microsoft Word – Audiology MPFS Final CY 2024.Table.docx

Medicare Proposes New Codes and Reporting Measures, Payment Cuts, and Continued Telehealth Coverage for 2024 (asha.org)

Calendar Year (CY) 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule | CMS

Medicare Finalizes CY 2024 Payment Rules – American Academy of Audiology

*Content updated 3/26/24

Congratulations to the 2023 OSSEO Student Investigator Scholarship Winners

We are delighted to announce that three of our investigator-initiated research collaborators have been awarded the prestigious Student Investigator and Early Career Scholarships sponsored by the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

These scholarships are awarded annually to the top-scoring abstract submissions made by medical, doctoral, residents, and post-doctoral students and those early in their careers (up to five years post-education). This year’s scholarships include free registration to the 8th International Congress on Bone Conduction Hearing and Related Technologies (most commonly referred to as OSSEO) and special program recognitions.

Please join us in congratulating our winning collaborators for 2023!

Student Investigator Scholarship

This scholarship was awarded to the ten best-scoring student abstract submitters. Nicole Jiam, MD of Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School was one of the winners for her topic, Music Perception in Bone Anchored Hearing Implant Users.

 

 

Another winner was Ph.D candidate Marsel Ganeyev, along with co-authors Maria Hoffman, Anders Palmquist, Peter Thomsen, Martin L. Johanssson, and Margarita Trobos. Their topic is the Characterization of Staphylococcal Clinical Isolates Obtained from the Bone Anchored Hearing System and Relation to Clinical Outcome. This work was performed in collaboration with Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden and the Department of Biomaterials, University of Gothenburg, in Sweden.

Early Career Scholarship

This scholarship was awarded to the six best-scoring early career abstract submitters. Marsadi Layne Parliament, Au.D was awarded for her topic, Pilot Study of Patients Who Do or Could Utilize a Bone Anchored Hearing Implant (BAHI): Preliminary Review of Cognition & Hearing Performance.

About the OSSEO Conference

The 2023 OSSEO Conference will be hosted by the Colorado School of Medicine from Sept. 6 to Sept. 9, 2023 at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center. It is considered the most important conference in the field of bone conduction implant research. Oticon Medical will hold a reception and special educational showcase event featuring our latest product developments. We look forward to participating and interacting with bone anchored hearing professionals throughout the event.

A Reconstructive Surgeon Shares His First MIPS Experience

Dr. Youssef Tahiri performed his first combination of ear reconstructive surgery and minimally invasive Ponto™ surgery (MIPS) in December of 2022. The procedure was conducted on a pediatric microtia/atresia patient, Sean, under general anesthesia (due to the reconstruction) in a surgical center under the guidance of an Oticon Medical representative.

Previously, Sean wore his Ponto processor on a softband, which he received when he was only three months old. At the age of 8[1], it was determined that Sean had reached the right age and bone density to proceed with implantation so he could wear his new Ponto 5 SuperPower on an abutment for improved access to sound.

The following is an interview conducted by Oticon Medical with Dr. Tahiri regarding his experience with the procedure.

Did you encourage Sean’s parents to move forward with implantation

I definitely encouraged them to move forward with MIPS to help with hearing on Sean’s microtia/atresia side. Sean had been using the Ponto already and were loving the product. Importantly, he was very comfortable with the Ponto. So we all agreed to go ahead with a Ponto implant system placement.

How long did Sean’s procedure take?

The MIPS portion took approximately 20 minutes.

How did your Oticon Medical representative assist you in working with Sean and his family?

She was so useful since it was my first time using the Ponto system. She supported me through the different steps of the procedure. She made sure we had everything we needed for a successful procedure.

In this experience, did your patient experience a significant improvement in performance/hearing after implantation vs. wearing the processor on a softband?

Absolutely! His hearing outcome was significantly improved after implantation as compared to the softband.

What would you like other surgeons to know about MIPS who might not have tried it yet?

It is a straightforward and easy procedure. The risks are minimal while the benefits are great. Hearing is so important and thus implantation should not be delayed (once deemed medically safe for the patient), particularly with such a minimal, simple procedure.


Click through the link to watch what Sean and his mother have to say about his Ponto 5 SuperPower and experience undergoing MIPS.

About Dr. Tahiri

Dr. Youssef Tahiri is a Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon with a subspecialty in Craniofacial Surgery. After graduating from McGill Medical School, in Montreal, Canada, he completed his Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery residency at McGill University and a Craniofacial Surgery Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children Hospital of Philadelphia. He also pursued a Masters Degree in Experimental Surgery, which he obtained with Honors. He embraces the most innovative, cutting-edge technique available in craniofacial and microtia surgery. He has published a very large number of peer-review articles and presented his work at numerous regional, national and international scientific meetings. His research interests include outcomes evidence based clinical studies and translational research to enhance patients’ care and safety through improved techniques and technology.

[1] MIPS is recommended for: 
- Adult patients with normal bone quality and bone thickness above 3mm, where no complications during surgery are expected
- Children with normal bone quality and a bone thickness above 4mm (typically 12 years or older), and other known factors have been considered and found suitable for single-stage surgery
- Patients, as per above, with a skin thickness of 12mm or less
Refer to Surgical Manual for complete information on MIPS

 

Announcing the Third Annual Good Vibrations Day | Bone Anchored Awareness Day

Somerset, NJ.  Oticon Medical will once again celebrate Good Vibrations Day on May 3, 2023. This marks the third year since the company founded this non-branded celebration to raise awareness of bone conduction hearing treatment, which is also known as Bone Anchored Awareness Day. By opening the celebration to all bone conduction device manufacturers, audiology professionals, and wearers, the hope is that more people who could benefit from this hearing solution will learn about its benefits worldwide.

May 3 was selected specifically because it is the birthday of Per-Ingvar Brånemark, a Swedish physician and research professor known as the father of osseointegration, and the godfather of bone anchored hearing. His discoveries enabled the development of modern bone conduction hearing devices.

Wearers first joined the celebration of Good Vibrations Day in 2021 by sharing video clips, photos, and stories depicting their lives with a bone anchored hearing system. They have continued to share their experiences with others year-round, helping to spread the word about bone conduction as an effective treatment for certain forms of hearing loss.

“For over 10 years I lived unaided and was miserable,” said wearer Ross W. “I would often sit with others and just smile because I was lost by the conversations going on around me. I never could tell what anyone was saying, so it created a disconnect. But when I got my first bone anchored hearing system, I was out in the open talking to everyone rather than in a corner. I was also smiling a lot because I was engaged. It changed everything!”

Bone conduction describes having sound vibrations conducted into the cochlea via the skull. Bone anchored hearing systems use this process, bypassing missing or damaged portions of the wearer’s outer or middle ear and sending vibrations via the skull directly into the inner ear. From there, they can be processed by the brain as sound.

Currently, more than 250,000 people from all over the world use some form of a bone conduction hearing device. Good Vibrations Day celebrates them and their treatment—regardless of brand—by providing an opportunity and encouragement to share their experiences with this life-changing hearing technology.

“Oticon Medical knows that sound matters,” said René Govaerts, General Manager at Oticon Medical. “We launched Good Vibrations Day in 2021 and have continued to celebrate it annually because it is an important way to raise awareness about the benefits of bone conduction. Many people around the world still don’t know that bone anchored hearing systems are options for addressing their conductive or single-sided hearing losses. We will proudly continue to do whatever we can, in partnership with other manufacturers, hearing healthcare professionals, and current wearers, to spread the word about this effective treatment option.”

Leading up to and including May 3, Oticon Medical will be celebrating Good Vibrations Day around the world by sharing information, videos and photos from wearers, holding contests, and more through its social media platforms. As a non-branded awareness day, the company invites other bone anchored brands to join in the celebration by sharing content and organizing celebrations of their own.

Good Vibrations Day posts, stories, tweets, reels, etc. can be shared by all using the #GoodVibrations and #BoneAnchoredHearing hashtags. They can also be viewed and shared via the official Good Vibrations Day Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/boneanchoredhearing. Hearing healthcare professionals and wearers alike are encouraged to join the Good Vibrations Day Facebook Page.

Media Contact:

Hildy Silverman, Sr. Manager, Digital Marketing

580 Howard Avenue

Somerset, NJ  08873

(P) 888.277.8014

(E) info@oticonmedicalusa.com

About Oticon Medical

All our passion, knowledge, technology, and global resources are aimed at supporting professionals and helping users overcome their hearing loss so they can live full lives – now and in the future. Because we know how much sound matters.

More information can be found at www.oticonmedical.com/US

Ponto 5 SP: Power, Procedure, and Performance in One Processor

As a hearing care professional, you might be wondering how to best explain the benefits of a Ponto™ 5 SuperPower with candidates for bone conduction technology. Of course it is helpful to share technical information, diagnostic conclusions, and other evidence. However, when speaking to a potential wearer or parent/caregiver of a younger candidate, nothing is quite as convincing as hearing about Ponto’s life-changing advantages directly from current wearers.

With that in mind, we have compiled the following three short videos, which contain clips from actual Ponto wearers and parents of wearers for you to share. Each highlights what we call the “Three Ps” of Ponto: Power, Procedure, and Performance.

We hope you find these compilations helpful and encourage you to share them with anyone you think might benefit from a Ponto bone anchored hearing system!

Power of Ponto

The Minimimally Invasive Ponto Surgical Procedure

The Performance of Ponto

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.

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

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/.