Users don’t buy the devices outright; rather, they pay for yearly subscription that is roughly $2900 to $4000 for both ears, said Dr. Scherl.
Explore this issue:March 2009
The sound quality is good because the device takes advantage of the natural shape of the ear canal, he explained. Additionally, patient satisfaction is high once the device is properly fitted.
Some fittings are easy and some can be time-consuming for both the audiologist and the physician, noted Dr. Scherl. Fittings can sometimes take up to a month of adjustments. There are only four sizes, although a fifth size will be available soon, and they often don’t fit in narrow ear canals, he explained.
Another new hearing aid called Clik (Ear Technology Corp., Johnson City, TN) will be launched this month. It is a high-end digital hearing aid that allows the provider to fit the device without connecting to a computer or cables and doesn’t require learning new software. All programming is onboard the hearing aid processor, said Daniel Schumaier, PhD, President of Ear Technology Corporation.
Patients can wear the open-fit device and make adjustments to the amplification in their own real-life noisy and quiet environments. The user can select programs for different listening situations by pressing a push button on the hearing aid. Clik also has directional microphones and twin telecoils, oriented for optimum use with loop induction systems, as well as the telephone.
An advanced programming mode is also available to the audiologist to further refine sound quality, he explained. Fifteen different programs to adjust frequency response allow for this fine-tuning.
Dr. Schumaier anticipates that the provider cost of the Clik will be substantially less than that of other high-end hearing aids on the market, because the device does not require computer hardware and software for programming or the high levels of technical support required in the traditional digital hearing aid business model.
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