Phonak announced it has teamed up with Microsoft to introduce Phonak Remote Support Service, a real-time remote fitting solution using Microsoft’s Azure cloud-based technology. The new service is designed to increase access to hearing care over distance by helping to enable remote fine-tuning of Phonak Audéo Marvel hearing aids from virtually anywhere in the world. Hearing aid wearers are reportedly able to communicate by audio and video with a hearing care professional via the myPhonak app to detail their specific hearing challenge in real-time and real situations. Remote Support Service is said to be the first product of an ongoing strategic technological partnership between Microsoft and Sonova, parent company of Phonak and a provider of hearing solutions.

Improving hearing care accessibility

The popularity of telemedicine is growing, and recent study found a majority of respondents preferred remote appointments over face-to-face meetings with their healthcare providers.1 While initial hearing aid fittings are still done in-office, remote follow-up care removes traditional appointment barriers like time and distance. This is especially important for consumers with mobility constraints or who rely on caregivers for transportation.

Phonak Remote Support also improves access by allowing hearing care professionals (HCPs) to deliver remote care to patients who may be traveling or who cannot make it into the office. Real-time audio/video conferencing can help contribute to a better understanding of client feedback and their specific hearing environments.

“Digital transformation is generating exciting possibilities throughout healthcare, including hearing care,” said Martin Grieder, GVP, Hearing Instruments Marketing of Sonova. “We understand that consumer expectations are evolving as mobile devices further integrate into our everyday lives and embrace the potential for both our customers and consumers. Our strategic partnership with Microsoft gives consumers access to convenient and optimized remote adjustments, while giving hearing care providers an edge by utilizing the latest innovations in distance support and eAudiology.”

The potential for better patient outcomes

In addition to extending care over distance, in certain instances Remote Support Service may also result in a better quality of care than if the patient was physically in the office. Through the myPhonak app, the HCP is granted special access to the unique sound environment the patient may be struggling with. This “auditory snapshot” would be impossible to recreate in-office, according to Phonak. By observing the specific hearing challenge in real situations, the HCP is better equipped to diagnose and make adjustments in real time, potentially leading to better patient outcomes.

“The partnership with Sonova reflects exactly the kind of collaboration that is particularly close to our hearts: Our technology enables Swiss companies to be global market leaders with innovative solutions,” said Marianne Janik, CEO Microsoft Switzerland. “At the same time, the people at Sonova work very hard to ensure that millions of people around the world can participate in life. This is highly consistent with our vision to empower every individual on this planet to achieve more.”

The Remote Support features come packaged in the myPhonak app, which is a free download and fully compatible with iOS and Android devices.

Phonak Remote Support and Audéo Marvel will be available at the end of November 2018 in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the USA.

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1. Angley GP, Schnittker JA, Tharpe AM. Remote hearing aid support: The next frontier. J Am Acad Audiol. 2017;28(10):893-900.

Source: Phonak, Journal of the American Academy of Audiology

Image: Phonak