ReSound Reports 50% Reduction in Moisture-Related Repairs from iSolate

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ReSound, Minneapolis, reports that results from a recent study of the company’s iSolate nanotech protective coating show significantly reduced moisture-related hearing aid repairs. ReSound says that in a review of 50,000 hearing aids sold, the iSolate nanotech protective coating was shown to decrease moisture- and debris-related repairs by 50% in the first 6 months. “The benefits of iSolate nanotech become more evident with time,” said Jennifer Groth, MA, global audiology, ReSound. “We expect even better results at the 9- to 12-month mark,” she added.

iSolate works by coating all elements of a hearing aid with a thin protective layer that bonds at a molecular level with the internal and external components, shielding them without affecting their performance. Liquids or moisture coming into contact with any element of the hearing aid, including internal elements, rolls off without being absorbed. It is also intended to treat completed hearing aid devices, not just individual vulnerable components. iSolate is applied in a vacuum chamber, ensuring global coating of all parts, inside and out.

USPSTF Reviews Benefits of Adult Hearing Loss Screening

In an attempt to update its 1996 recommendations, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has reviewed evidence on whether screening adults over 50 for hearing loss improves outcomes. Results indicated further study was needed.

It has been 15 years since USPSTF reviewed evidence on screening for hearing loss in primary care settings in adults aged 50 years or older. The 1996 report recommended screening adults, aged 50 or older, in primary care settings.

The latest review, by Chou et al and published in the March 1, 2011, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, was initiated to possibly revise the 1996 recommendations. The researchers reviewed randomized trials, controlled observational studies, and studies on diagnostic accuracy and the evidence on benefits and harms of screening for and treatments of hearing loss.

The largest trial, with 2,305 participants, found that screening for hearing loss was associated with increased hearing aid use at 1 year, but that screening was not associated with improvements in hearing-related function. Another randomized trial that was reviewed found that immediate hearing aids were effective compared with wait-list control in improving hearing-related quality of life in patients with mild or moderate hearing loss and severe hearing-related handicap.

The researchers found no evidence that screening for hearing loss had any negative health effects. Furthermore, they did not find any studies that showed that hearing aid use might lead to further hearing loss due to increased amplification.

Nevertheless, the USPSTF has made no modifications to its recommendations based on this review. The researchers concluded, “Additional research is needed to understand the effects of screening for hearing loss compared with no screening on health outcomes and to confirm benefits of treatment under conditions likely to be encountered in most primary care settings.”

Sonus Creates First Audiology-Based Franchise Model

Sonus, Minneapolis, a division of Amplifon USA, has announced the creation of the first audiology-based hearing industry franchise model, according to the company. Kathy Foltner, AuD, will lead the launch in the eastern United States, serving as Sonus’ vice president for Franchise Sales, East.

The new franchise model will allow audiologists to own their own practices, while receiving the marketing, branding, and administrative synergies of a franchise system. The company believes that audiologists in a franchise system will be able to compete more effectively in the widely forecasted hearing aid-related growth from aging Baby Boomers.

The Sonus press release also views the franchise model as a solution for hearing aids potentially becoming a high-priced commodity. The Sonus franchise model is designed to allow audiologists to focus more on patients and improving satisfaction, rather than focusing on products, technology, and promotions. The model will include exclusive territories, marketing assistance, a wide selection of hearing products, store design, IT system support, and a national call center for lead generation support.

Foltner has been hired to lead the franchise effort in the western United States, and Thomas Tedeschi, AuD, will serve the western United States as the company’s vice president for Franchise Sales, West.

In addition to Foltner’s 30 years in the audiology industry, she teaches classes in business and practice management at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center, and is the author of numerous business articles, chapters, and a book, Success Is a Decision of the Mind.

Foltner commented in the press announcement, “The Sonus Franchise is what has been missing in our industry. It provides the professional structure, support, and resources to reduce the risk that many fear about private practice, it provides the tools to manage and expand existing private practices, and it allows seasoned practice owners a great method to transition a private practice to a new audiologist owner.”

SecondSenseHearing.com for Consumers Is Launched by AHAA

American Hearing Aid Associates (AHAA), Chadds Ford, Pa, has launched SecondSenseHearing.com, a new consumer Web site for people with hearing impairment, as well as their friends and family members, who want more information about causes and types of hearing loss. The portal also provides information about the latest technology to help improve quality of life through better hearing.

SecondSenseHearing.com represents renewed efforts by AHAA to provide assistance directly to consumers. Visitors can access AHAA’s database of certified dispensing professionals to find a specialist in their area. The Web site will be continuously updated with hearing-related resources and information.

AHAA says that its goal is to be the logical first place for consumers to go for hearing health care solutions.