Tag Archives: bone anchored hearing

Presidential Perspective

Proud to be a Partner in the Recovery of Your Hearing Health Clinic

Congratulations! Your hearing healthcare practice survived the lockdown of 2020. Patients are finally showing up to address their hearing losses, but although you’ve reopened, you still aren’t operating at full capacity. Maybe you lost staff or sadly had to let some people go. Yet you still must provide your patients with the level of care and service they have come to expect from your business.

We get it. That’s why we have taken concrete steps to ensure you receive the extra support you need during this challenging transition back from 100 percent remote care to at least some in-person. I’d like to share with you just some of what we offer as extra benefits for partnering with Oticon Medical.

Direct patient services

We offer a direct-to-patient repair and accessory service, so you can help patients who are still unable to visit your clinic and to reduce the number of walk-ins. This is done in close cooperation with you to ensure regulatory compliance, traceability, and that the best hearing solution is provided to your patient.

The Ponto Loaner Program

As some elective surgeries remain on hold, Oticon Medical can offer demo processors and loaner devices for some of your patients. Those who are experiencing surgical delays can wear their Ponto™ on a softband while awaiting their procedure, and still enjoy many benefits of bone conduction hearing. Please contact your sales representative for details on this program.

Customer and Insurance Support Services

Oticon Medical’s Customer Service Team is available to answer patient inquiries during office hours Monday-Friday 8am-7pm ET. Please tell your patients to call (888) 277-8014. Outside of normal business hours or for patients who find phone calls challenging, we also have a dedicated email, info@oticonmedical.com, that is checked regularly throughout each day.

Additionally, we have a dedicated team of Insurance Specialists available to help your patients navigate their insurance benefits to determine and verify coverage of the costs of their surgery and/or sound processor. While the insurance process can be daunting, our team is here to make it is as easy as possible, for patients and your practice. Contact the team at (855) 400-9761 during normal business hours or by email at insuranceservices@oticonmedical.com.

Clinical support

You can request an Oticon Medical Clinical Support representative be present at your patient’s appointment in-person or via an online platform. Our audiology professionals can answer questions, offer advice, and guide your fitting. We can also train you and your staff in the use of our fitting software, Genie Medical.

Step-by-step support online

On our website, you will find the Support page for hearing healthcare professionals. Here you can find extensive resources and tools at your convenience, at any time, to guide you and your patients through the Assessment, Trial, Surgical, Healing, Sound Processor Attachment, and Aftercare phases.

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I hope this information makes you feel even more confident working with Oticon Medical as we work together to recover from the challenging (to put it mildly) 15-plus months. Of course, if you even have any questions, concerns, or just plain want additional help, please don’t hesitate to contact your local representative.

Presidential Perspective

Why We Launched Good Vibrations Day

On May 3, Oticon Medical launched the first Good Vibrations Day—a nonbranded annual holiday to raise awareness of bone anchored hearing as a solution to hearing losses that cannot be treated with air conduction hearing aids.

Note my use of nonbranded here. The point of this day is to inform people with hearing loss that an alternative to their partial or near-total deafness exists that they might not have known about. And while we are a business that manufactures such a product—the Ponto™ bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) —we are also a part of something much larger: the hearing healthcare community. As such, we consider it our responsibility and our privilege to spread the word about hearing treatment options to those who would benefit regardless of brand.

I can imagine what the cynical among you are thinking as you roll your eyes at your screen: “Sure, John. You don’t care whether this initiative drives Ponto sales. Sell me a bridge, why don’t you?”

Okay, fair enough. Obviously, I believe in our product and that it is the best option on the market. Why would I work for the company otherwise?

Nevertheless, Good Vibrations Day is not about pushing Ponto sales. A surprising number of people affected by hearing loss only know about traditional hearing aids and cochlear implants, which although highly effective treatments, are not universally suited to every form of hearing loss.

Thousands of people in the United States and abroad could be engaging in conversations with friends, listening to music, having an easier time learning in school and functioning at work. Imagine you are one of them, and because of Good Vibrations Day, discover a solution exists that could help you enjoy all the ease and pleasure access to sound provides. Wouldn’t you hop online and start researching all the bone anchored treatment options available? The opportunity to offer this hope to more human beings carries far deeper meaning, to me, than pushing product alone.

Ultimately, we are in the business of helping people. We can only do that if they know our treatment option exists. So, yes, even if our Good Vibrations Day efforts drive some individuals to seek treatment from a company other than ours, we’ll consider it a success.

Which is why we are not only hoping , but actively encouraging, our competitors to join us in celebrating next year’s Good Vibrations Day. Together, we can inform potential users and support audiology professionals in spreading the word about osseointegrated treatments and their effectiveness. The more people we reach who could benefit from bone anchored hearing, the greater the opportunity we will all have to improve lives. And yes, as a rising tide lifts all boats, increasing public awareness of bone anchored hearing solutions will ultimately benefit our entire industry, including our clinical customers.

Until next time,

John Sparacio, President, Oticon Medical US

Raising Awareness of Hearing Loss

To highlight and help increase awareness of hearing loss, this blog is dedicated to the efforts that surround the national campaign for May as Better Hearing and Speech Month. Hearing loss is ranked as one of the most common chronic health conditions that U.S. adults experience, affecting an estimated 48 million people nationwide. New polling released by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) reveals an overwhelming disconnect between the high value that Americans say they place on their hearing and their low willingness to be treated for any hearing loss. This has prompted a new public service announcement (PSA) campaign: Act Now on Hearing. This PSA will air nationwide for the next year educating Americans on the signs of hearing loss and guiding those affected to find care from a certified audiologist.

People with hearing loss often wait an average of seven years before seeking treatment. When left untreated, hearing loss has been linked to several other health problems, including social isolation and depression, cognitive decline, and increased stress levels. A 12-year study found that mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk, moderate loss tripled risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia (Lin, et al, 2011).

Additional statistics learned from a poll conducted by ASHA of nearly 2,500 adults ages 18 and older found:

  • 80% of Americans say maintaining their hearing heath is extremely important or very important to their quality of life.
  • Only 2 in 10 (20%) adults have had a hearing test in the past five years, compared with roughly 6 in 10 (61%) who have had their vision tested.
  • More than half (51%) of all adults reported having hearing problems, but only 11% of those respondents have sought treatment.
  • More than three-quarters (78%) of those with hearing problems have had these difficulties for one or more years—and over one-third (35%) have had trouble for five or more years.
  • A 42% plurality of Americans understand that mild hearing loss can impact a person’s life or daily functioning. Yet, more than half of those with untreated hearing problems (56%) say that they would be unlikely to treat it unless it was “severe.”

Click through for additional information on Attitudes and Actions Towards Hearing Health Survey Results findings from ASHA.

A global spotlight

The World Health Organization (WHO) released the first-ever World Report on Hearing projecting that by 2050, 2.5 billion people will be living with some degree of hearing loss. This translates into 1 in 4 people worldwide, at least 700 million of whom will require rehabilitation services.

Hearing loss can be addressed through effective and timely interventions. In children, almost 60% of hearing loss is due to causes that can be prevented through measures such as immunization, improved maternal and neonatal care, and screening for, and early management of, otitis media. In adults, legislation on noise control and safe listening, and surveillance of ototoxicity can help maintain hearing trajectories and reduce the potential for hearing loss.

Click through to learn more about the World Report on Hearing.

Take action now

It is important to act now for a variety reasons, but in particular the recent COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of hearing, which allows us to remain connected to others when social distancing and losing visual cues due to the use of masks.

As audiologists we have the platform to help increase awareness, motivate those struggling with hearing loss to take that initial step toward treatment, educate others on hearing technology and its benefits, and counsel each patient we treat on the importance of protecting our ears from loud noises.

How can you get involved?  Consider any of the following:

  • Volunteer to present to your local community on the effects of hearing loss.
  • Post the present statistics surrounding hearing loss and the benefits of hearing technology on your social media accounts.
  • Offer free hearing screenings at your facility.
  • Encourage your inner circle of friends and family to complete a basic hearing test.
  • Lead by example and treat your own ears with kindness by reducing exposure to loud noises.

If we each commit to doing one thing to help raise awareness together, we can make a difference!

 

References

Kochkin S & Rogin C.  Quantifying the Obvious: The Impact of Hearing Instruments on Quality of Life;  The Hearing Review, January 2000.

Lin FR, Metter EJ, O'Brien RJ, Resnick SM, Zonderman AB, Ferrucci L. Hearing loss and incident dementia. Archives of neurology. 2011; 68(2):214-20. NIHMSID: NIHMS336097 PubMed PMID: 21320988, PMCID: PMC3277836

American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) 2021. Attitudes and Actions Towards Hearing Health. Survey Results; www.asha.org

 World Health Organization (2021): Report on Hearing; www.who.int

About the Author:

Carissa Moeggenberg is an audiologist who has worked in the hearing healthcare field for the past 29 years. She is presently the Training Manager for Oticon Medical.

The Benefits of OpenSound Navigator in Children with Hearing Loss

Fitting children with advanced sound processing algorithms in their hearing devices is not always straightforward. Does the clinical evidence support it? Will it provide more access to all sounds, promote incidental learning, and improve speech understanding in challenging environments? These questions are frequently considered, and a conservative approach is often taken. Whereas, when fitting adults, there is typically clinical evidence to support advanced sound processing and they are better at reporting sound quality issues, so audiologists are more likely to take a less conservative fitting approach. However, if we take too much of a conventional approach with children, are we missing an opportunity to provide improvements in sound quality, hearing in noise, and reduced listening effort?

In 2019, OpenSound NavigatorTM was incorporated into the Ponto 4 sound processor. The success of this sound processing strategy had been seen in Oticon hearing aids with many research studies documenting the benefits provided to patients. So, what is unique about OpenSound Navigator that might provide optimal benefit for children with hearing loss?

OpenSound Navigator is a groundbreaking speech enhancement algorithm that preserves speech and reduces noise in complex sound environments. OpenSound Navigator operates as a holistic system that handles all sound environments from the quietest to the noisiest, by selectively reducing the dominant noise sources while preserving speech in all directions. OpenSound Navigator adapts seamlessly without modes or mode switches. Utilizing an omnidirectional beam that captures a 360° sound panorama of the environment along with a back-facing cardioid that estimates noise from the sides and back provides users with a natural sound experience.

Research has been conducted in children using OpenSound Navigator. Browning et al, 2019 demonstrated OpenSound Navigator improves speech recognition in noise for children. In fact, with speech to the front and noise from behind, OpenSound Navigator provided an average 5 dB SNR improvement as compared to an omnidirectional microphone. Elaine Ng, 2017 further demonstrated that OpenSound Navigator reduces perceived listening effort during a speech recognition task. This benefit is particularly important because hearing loss imposes increased fatigue and effort as experienced by children. Oticon Medical’s BrainHearing™ technology is designed to support the unique day-to-day challenges and developmental needs of children. Together with hearing technology prescribed according to best practice, OpenSound Navigator delivers an optimized speech signal and hence provides these children with the optimal conditions to listen and learn.

Based on the supporting research, we recommend the fitting of OpenSound Navigator in a child’s Ponto™ 4 sound processor starting at one year of age. From ages one to four years, we suggest OpenSound Navigator is active with the transition set to low, and then as the child ages to four years and older, the transition can be adjusted to medium or high similar to adult recommendations. These are the default pediatric settings incorporated into Genie Medical (2019) fitting software. To summarize, unlike conventional directionality and noise reduction technology, OpenSound Navigator does not require children to look directly at the talker the whole time to enjoy better speech understanding in noise. Young listeners may move around freely and can still experience the benefits of OpenSound Navigator.

Another important feature of OpenSound Navigator is that it preserves interfering speech coming from different directions. This new technology allows access to other talkers in the environment, which is fundamental to incidental learning for school-age children.

The groundbreaking technology of OpenSound Navigator marks a breakthrough in the development of speech enhancement systems. It is not only designed to improve acoustics at the child’s ears, but also to facilitate the brain’s own processing. It does not isolate the front talker but preserves access to all talkers. Its accurate and fast spatially informed noise estimator allows the Balance module to selectively attenuate noise sources at given locations. The Noise Removal module removes the remaining noise even between words. OpenSound Navigator opens many possibilities for new pediatric users.

To learn more about the clinical evidence supporting OpenSound Navigator in children we encourage you to register for our upcoming training on April 21, 2021 or reach out to your regional clinical specialist.

About the Author

Carissa Moeggenberg is an audiologist who has worked in the hearing healthcare field for the past 28 years. She is presently the Training Manager for Oticon Medical.

 

References:

Jenna M. Browning, Emily Buss, Mary Flaherty, Tim Vallier, and Lori J. Leibolda American Journal of Audiology Vol. 28, 101–113, March 2019

Elaine Ng, E. 2017. Benefits of OpenSound Navigator in children. Oticon Whitepaper.

Genie Medical (2019) Fitting Software

 

Counseling Patients through the Ponto Trial Journey

Benefits of Direct Sound Transmission

Patients considering a bone anchored solution for their hearing loss have many options.  As clinicians begin the process of discussing patient choices there are many factors patients often consider, including sound processor style, surgical features, wearing comfort, and cosmetic appeal. However, the candidate often overlooks or undervalues intangible benefits. These benefits relate to the importance of a solution that provides clarity of the signal without distortion or feedback, ample amount of power output to overcome the hearing loss and a broad frequency response to capture all of the acoustic elements important for the understanding of speech.

Bone anchored hearing devices can be placed into two broad categories: either they deliver sound via Skin Transmission, where the vibrating unit is placed on top of the skin and the sound vibrations have to pass through the skin and are attenuated before they reach the bone or via Direct Sound Transmission, with sound vibrations going directly to the bone and then on to the inner ear. Skin Transmission solutions are non-surgical options (e.g., a softband) versus Direct Sound Transmission percutaneous solutions, where the processor sends sound information through the skin to an implanted vibrating unit in direct contact with the bone.

Is there a difference between these two solutions?

Clinical evidence comparing patient outcomes between a skin transmission device and a direct transmission device indicates there is a significant difference. It has been shown that hearing thresholds obtained with Direct Sound Transmission solutions are about 5-20 dB lower (better) between 600 and 6000 Hz and speech reception thresholds are also 4-7 dB lower (better) than with conventional devices (Håkansson et al., 1984; Verstraeten et al., 2009). Beyond this fact, research shows that by choosing Direct Sound Transmission, such as a Ponto percutaneous solution, recipients can learn faster and remember more Pittman (2019) and Lunner et al. (2016) found that using Direct Sound Transmission can increase the learning speed in children by 2.5 times and improve recall abilities by 13 percent in adults.

It is widely established that children with a hearing loss have a reduced vocabulary compared to normal-hearing children (Blamey et al., 2001; Pittman et al., 2005). Hearing solutions for children with a hearing loss should help to close this gap. This is why the results seen by the Andrea Pittman (2019) study are so significant. The Pittman study is the first to show the influence of different sound transmission pathways on the essential domain of auditory learning with the effects of Direct Sound Transmission clear – children learn new words faster.

It has been shown that adults with hearing loss use many additional cognitive resources to recognize, listen to and process sounds. One of these cognitive resources is our working memory. Working memory can be used for both processing and storing information. Thus if more resources are used for processing, fewer resources are left for storage. In fact the ability to remember information can be used as an estimate of how many resources are left for storage, and how effortful it was to process that signal. Lunner and colleagues (2016) compared the ability to remember information using Ponto connected to either a softband (Skin Transmission) or an abutment (Direct Sound Transmission). Their results showed that the Ponto users’ recall ability was significantly higher with the sound processor connected to the abutment (52%) as compared to the Softband solution (46%). These findings suggest that transmitting the sound via Direct Sound Transmission to the temporal bone without skin dampening yields better signal quality and less effortful processing.

 

To summarize, the Ponto System uses Direct Sound Transmission, allowing for the most efficient transmission of speech and sounds via the skull bone directly to the cochlea without skin dampening. With the most powerful abutment-level sound processors available on the market, we can provide access to a larger range of everyday sounds with less distortion.

We believe that counseling on the benefits of a system beyond what is concrete to the patient will impact their future hearing outcomes and contribute to their overall quality of life. So, moving patients from softband to an abutment should include discussion of the advantages of Direct Sound Transmission.

To learn more about the benefits of direct sound transmission, we encourage you to register for our upcoming training on March 24, 2021 or reach out to your regional clinical specialist.

 About the Author

Carissa Moeggenberg is an audiologist who has worked in the hearing healthcare field for the past 28 years. She is presently the Training Manager for Oticon Medical.

References:

Blamey, P. J., Sarant, J. Z., Paatsch, L. E., Barry, J. G., Bow, C. P., Wales, R. J., Wright, M., Psarros, C., Rattigan, K., Tooher, R. (2001). Relationships among speech perception, production, language, hearing loss, and age in children with impaired hearing. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 44: 264–285.

Håkansson, B., Tjellstrom, A., Rosenhall, U. (1984) Hearing thresholds with direct bone conduction versus conventional bone conduction. Scand Audiol 13: 3-13.

Lunner, T., Rudner, M., Rosenbom, T., Ågren, J., and Ng, E.H.N. (2016) Using Speech Recall in Hearing Aid Fitting and Outcome Evaluation Under Ecological Test Conditions. Ear Hear 37 Suppl 1: 145S-154S.

Pittman, A. L., Lewis, D.E., Hoover, B.M., and Stelmachowicz, P. G. (2005). Rapid word-learning in normal-hearing and hearing-impaired children: Effects of age, receptive vocabulary, and high-frequency amplification. Ear Hear 26: 619–629. Plack, C. J. (2005). The sense of hearing.

Pittman, A. L. (2019) Bone conduction amplification in children: Stimulation via a percutaneous abutment vs. a transcutaneous softband. Ear Hear.

Verstraeten, N., Zarowski, A. J., Somers, T., Riff, D. and Offeciers, E. F. (2009). Comparison of the audiologic results obtained with the bone anchored hearing aid attached to the headband, the testband, and to the “snap” abutment Otol. Neurotol 30: 70-75.
Female audiologist

Reducing the Clinic’s Burden: Online Patient Resources from Oticon Medical

The demand to provide hearing healthcare services remotely has reached new levels this past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote hearing healthcare is not new—it has been discussed in audiology research circles for more than 20 years, been piloted and launched by Government Services and used by clinicians serving remote geographic locations.

TeleHealth, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “the use of electronic means to deliver information, resources and services related to health”. TeleHealth covers many domains, including electronic health records, mobile health, and health analytics. TeleHealth (also called eHealth) has the potential to provide more services to a wider population in a personalized manner. Prior to 2020, it was primarily intended to supplement in-person appointments, but has taken on a new meaning due to the recent pandemic and need for social distancing.

Reducing the burden on clinics by providing support for patient-related services and offering remote assistance to patients is a priority for us at Oticon Medical, which is why we have either created or further expanded several online support services for our hearing healthcare professionals over the last year. We detail a short summary of these services in this first blog of the New Year.

The Ponto Care™ App was expanded specifically to address the need for social distancing. It now provides your patients with an Aftercare section allowing them to access relevant information about everyday life with the Ponto, including user guides, instructional videos and a diary. More importantly, the Aftercare section allows recipients to monitor their implant site to ensure proper care is taken should an issue with the healing process occur. The app provides recipients with the ability to photograph their implant site documenting any changes that may occur over time. These photos can be shared or discussed with their healthcare provider should an issue occur during their recovery process, thus empowering patients for simple, easy device care.

Replacement Processor Support is an essential service for you and your patients. Should your patient need a replacement sound processor, we will extract their current program from their non-functioning processor, load the program(s) onto their new sound processor and ship directly to the patient. This removes you from the process so that you can focus your time on clinically billable services.

Oticon Medical Online Support Pages

Patients often have many questions regarding the insurance reimbursement process during their journey to getting a Ponto System or when upgrading their current sound processor. In order to reduce the amount of time you spend counseling on topics related to insurance reimbursement we have expanded our online services to provide additional support for your patients. Our Insurance Support Team has posted online information that includes the list of in-network insurance providers, frequently asked questions, intake forms and direct contact information on how to reach a member of our team.

Additional online programs to assist your patients can be found on our website under Support.  This section of our website offers instructional product videos, online warranty registration and product use guides.

Ongoing guidance and support from other recipients who have been on the BAHS journey to better hearing play a key role in assisting patients who are new to this technology. We encourage you to direct your patients to our Oticon Medical Friends program

for a deeper connection that only another bone anchored recipient can impart, thus easing the amount of time you spend on counseling.

Finally, to provide a place for you to build your expertise about Oticon Medical’s products, we have partnered with Audiology Online to extend opportunities for you to attend live webinars or watch recorded webinars from the comfort of your home or office. These sessions are typically 60 minutes in length and offer continuing education credits. Topics include clinical evidence, product updates, product fittings and advanced clinical management of bone anchored recipients.

We Value Your Feedback

We are committed to continually evaluating the services we provide and developing innovative remote care solutions that present value to those customers who fit and receive our products. Should you have suggestions or ideas on how we can improve our remote service programs please let us know!

We wish you all the best for 2021! Your dedication and skill make a difference every day to those affected by hearing loss.