An Interview With Stephen Claridge, Founder of Earmeter
I wrote a post last year about Earmeter, I was absolutely enthralled by the premise of the software and particularly excited about the opportunity for engagement that it provided. I thought the software had immediate promise as a tool for deeper Patient engagement with the possible added benefit of reducing cancellations. I decided to re-visit the topic this year and I invited Stephen Claridge the Founder and Developer for interview to discuss the background to development and his motivation. He graciously accepted and the following is what we discussed.
GC: Firstly Stephen, thank you sincerely for agreeing to speak with me. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you became involved with the Hearing Health Profession?
SC: I started to lose my hearing when I was five, my parents noticed something was wrong just after I’d had a short illness. I went through a few pairs of bulky BTEs from the NHS, and they were bulky back then, until I hit my teens and due to the need to look cool and impress the girls my parents bought me some ITCs privately. About five or six years ago I started working for Siemens Molecular Imaging in Oxford and met a guy there who wrote a blog about his experiences of living on a boat, he showed me how to set a blog up and I started writing about my hearing loss. Much to my amazement, people started leaving comments about the stuff I was writing, not only other people with hearing loss but professionals in the industry too. Fast-forward six years and I’m still thoroughly enjoying blogging.
GC: I actually first became aware of you through your blog, I was impressed with it and your honest posts in relation to your hearing difficulties. Stephen, you came to market late last year with Earmeter, my thoughts when I first saw it and discussed with you the concept were that it was a fantastic programme. I thought that it would be of benefit to many Practices to utilize this type of software programme during a Patient’s trial period. How did you formulate the idea?
SC: The idea for Earmeter came to me mid-2011. I was visiting an audiologist for some re-programming and we were discussing common problems people have and how often newly purchased hearing aids end up abandoned in a drawer – that’s frustrating for the practice and the patient. That got me thinking about my own experiences in the past and ways to make it easier for patients with new hearing aids.
GC:I think that was an innovative piece of thinking, I also think that your experiences bring a completely different outlook from the norm. In essence, I feel that this tool will be of real benefit not just to the Practice, but also to the Patient. Was that your own thought processes during the design and deployment stage?
SC: It’s absolutely about the patients too. If a patient is happy with their hearing at the end of a trial then everyone benefits: the patient can hear better and the practice gets some word-of-mouth advertising.
GC: In designing the software, did you rely on your own past experience as a Hearing Instrument User.
SC: Yes, I thought back to the times when I wasn’t happy with a new hearing aid and why that was. I got asked a lot when trialing new hearing aids to do two things: keep a diary of my experiences and to describe, when in the aud’s office, what the problem is or why something sounds bad. I wanted to keep a diary but I just didn’t really know where to start, wasn’t sure what was relevant information and because I didn’t keep a diary I often turned up for re-programming not being able to accurately describe my hearing problems that I had two weeks ago. Another problem I always had was forgetting questions and problems I wanted to talk about when the re-programming appointment finally came around.
GC: So in essence, Earmeter is a real time living diary, that allows both the Patient and Dispenser to assess ongoing benefit. Could you synopsize exactly what benefits that you feel the software will bring to a Hearing Health Practice?
SC: It can help a practice to improve patient engagement during and after a HA trial, and just as importantly, it simplifies and automates much of the engagement so that patients are getting timely information about their news HAs and the practice is getting day-to-day feedback on how the patient is doing. Hopefully there’ll be less surprises and forgotten questions at the in-office consultations. It allows a practice to give their patient the best chance of a positive outcome.
GC: Again as a Hearing Instrument User, could you synopsize exactly what benefits the software will bring to new Users or existing users with new Hearing Instruments?
SC: Wearing a new hearing aid can be an exhausting, frustrating and confusing experience; particularly for first-time users. My hope is that practices will use Earmeter to make it a little easier for people. Often patients will go away for two weeks with their new aids to try them out and have such a bad time of it that they are already feeling negative by the time they can back for a consultation – people wait until the consultation and aren’t asking the questions they need to be day-to-day or getting the information they need day-to-day; Earmeter helps with that.
Stephen, I personally think that you have a killer application here, I also think that the software can be used to engage with a Patient on a deeper and ongoing level. I also think that the more enlightened Practices will quickly adopt your software as a tool for engagement and increasing Patient satisfaction. I wish you well with the software but I firmly believe that it will become a staple within the Hearing Instrument Profession over the next few years.
You can see Earmeter at earmeter.com, where you can also contact Stephen. Again, my belief that the key to your ongoing business health is Patient engagement is well known. I think that Earmeter is a tool that will facilitate that strategy, it will also I bet have the added benefit of reducing cancellations in your Practice. So take a hard look at it, decide whether it fits your Practice and its communication strategy and then move on.
The Original Post Can Be Found Here