Users praise the products in online reviews, but some also complain that the hearing aid can stop working shortly after music and videos are streamed, that they can be slow to connect when the app is first opened, that they can switch to a pre-set location setting when the user is not actually there, and that the Bluetooth connection can be lost in one or both ears all of a sudden.
Explore This IssueSeptember 2015
Dr. Fabry said that, as with any wireless device, it is difficult to distinguish between connectivity issues in the hardware from those in the antenna. “When iOS8 was first introduced, there were some issues impacting hearing aid connectivity that impacted MFI [made for iPhone] devices,” he said. “This was brought to Apple’s attention. It has been resolved, and connectivity issues have been dramatically reduced. We work closely with Apple to optimize the user experience.” In responses to posts on message boards, ReSound officials have said that some connection issues have been fixed by updates in Apple’s iPhone software.
Changing batteries could also be a hurdle for some patients with limited dexterity, Gruenwald said.
Douglas Backous, MD, medical director of the Center for Hearing and Skull Base Surgery at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, said any user of a hearing aid could benefit from these new options. But, in the end, it’s largely a personal choice. “We encourage patients to determine what options they want in the various aids available,” he said.
Gruenwald said that the devices might mean that those who need it will pursue help with their hearing sooner. “It is widely known that patients with diagnosed hearing loss generally wait years before actually pursuing hearing devices. Perhaps features like the direct-to-iPhone capability will make hearing aids seem more appealing and generate faster adoption of hearing-aid use.”
Thomas Collins is a freelance medical journalist based in Florida.