Wireless connectivity is the beginning of a sea change in hearing aid technology, are you paying enough attention?
It is interesting to watch the developments within our industry of late, in particular I refer to technological changes. There has been a raft of new advancements and products on the connectivity front. New connective devices released from Phonak and the made for iPhone devices from Resound. Every manufacturer is moving forward on this front, offering solutions that allow our Patients to plug into their lives in more comprehensive and novel ways.
I think we need to understand what these devices are and what they can do for a Patient. I think that they will allow or encourage more adoption of hearing instruments in the future. We have moved beyond hearing aids, into the era of a personal area network system (PANS). Devices that allow us to connect and interact with a myriad of communication devices. Devices that make understanding and communicating easier than ever for hard of hearing people.
The future holds advances that were un-imaginable several years ago, a PANS can allow integration of any device with the right communication protocol. For healthcare it opens many possible advances and avenues, what about a smart monitor that tells a Patient when their blood pressure is high. Not with a read out, but with a discreet sentence spoken directly into the ears. A wearable monitor for diabetics that monitors blood sugar, again with a spoken warning for adverse events.
These things and possible countless others, if they occur, may well change our business for ever, they may well open new opportunities for revenue. They could also ensure that audiologists were a large part of the the interface for primary healthcare needs. I remember reading a novel some time ago, it was a sci fi set far in the future. Most of the characters had a cochlear implant which allowed them to both hear beyond normal hearing and also as a personal communication device.
I think we are a long way from that reality, but I often find myself thinking that a set of Dream Fusions set to a flat ten loss with a TV-Dex and an M-Dex would be just fine. Easy phone comms, music and audio in quality stereo, whats not to like? It is actually quite interesting, if I, with no hearing loss, would be happy to wear a set of aids for convenience, are there others like me? That is what is so exciting, we are on the cusp of so many possible divergences within our industry.
Widex recently introduced a device with no amplification for Tinnitus, the Zen To Go, is there an opportunity for a device for connectivity alone? Is there a market for a device for connectivity alone? Speculation on future trends aside, we should all be aware of the current facts. The connectivity of hearing instruments and the assistive devices that are available are making our Patient’s lives easier. They are an excellent solution and you need to consider how you fit them into your consultation. The benefits that they can offer are too important to just be a foot note in your sales patter.