Tag Archives: bone anchored hearing

May 3rd is Good Vibrations Day | Bone Anchored Awareness Day Press Release

April 22, 2024 Somerset, NJ.  Oticon Medical will celebrate the fourth annual Good Vibrations Day/Bone Anchored Awareness Day on May 3rd, 2024. This non-branded occasion was developed to raise awareness of bone conduction as an effective hearing treatment alternative for those with conductive, mixed, or single-sided hearing losses. Participation is open to all bone conduction device manufacturers, audiology professionals, and wearers with the goal of raising awareness of this treatment and celebrating its benefits worldwide.

Why May 3rd?

The May 3rd date was chosen 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 are encouraged to share video clips, photos, and stories depicting their lives with a bone anchored hearing system. Hearing care professionals are also invited to share their experiences fitting the devices and the benefits their patients have enjoyed.

“I think a bone anchored hearing system supports an individual’s listening experience by simply giving them access to language and the sound in their environment,” said Educational Audiologist Elaine McCarty. “Being able to know what’s happening in their environment, connecting with other people, I think it’s a big one. Bringing that oomph to their system with the use of a tool like the bone anchored hearing system to give them better access to that.”

How Bone Conduction Works

Bone conduction hearing systems treat hearing loss by bypassing missing or damaged portions of the wearer’s outer or middle ear and sending vibrations via the skull directly into the cochlea. From there, they are processed by the brain as sound. More than 400,000 people around the world use some form of a bone conduction hearing device and have benefited from the treatment.

A Global, Nonbranded Day of Celebration

Leading up to and including May 3rd, Oticon Medical invites all bone conduction device manufacturers to join them in celebrating Good Vibrations Day, along with wearers, parents and caregivers to wearers, and hearing care professionals. Activities can include sharing experiences, information, and videos and photos from wearers, holding contests, and more across various social media platforms.

“As we mark our fourth year celebrating Good Vibrations Day,” René Govaerts, General Manager at Oticon Medical, affirms, “our dedication to the importance of sound remains unwavering. This momentous occasion has served as a significant day for raising awareness about the remarkable benefits of bone conduction. Given that many people around the world are still unaware of bone anchored hearing systems as a viable solution for their hearing loss, it’s imperative that we work to change this. Oticon Medical remains committed to advancing our collaborative efforts with other manufacturers, hearing care professionals, and current wearers to ensure that the transformative capability of bone conduction reaches all those in need.”

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 care professionals and wearers alike are encouraged to join this Facebook Page.

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

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.

 

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.

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

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.