The online hearing test developed by hi HealthInnovations and designed to prescribe amplification for the company’s hearing aids has been taken down for "enhancements", according to the company as originally reported online by the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). There is no mention about when the test will go back online, and hi HealthInnovations did not immediately respond to HR.

Currently, the test is preceded by a Web page that provides instructions on how to get a hearing test that states: “Ask your physician for a hearing test. We have provided hearing test kits to many physicians, but if your physician does not have a kit, please ask them to call [phone number].” When one clicks on the “Start Hearing Test or Enter Audiogram Results”, which at one time brought visitors to the “Home version”— the most controversial of the company’s hearing tests—it now only allows visitors to enter values from an audiogram.

The Hearing Review published an article (Methods for Prescribing Gain for hi HealthInnovations’ Hearing Devices: Reliability and Accuracy) by Dianne J. Van Tasell, PhD, in its January 2012 edition that provides details about the Clinic and Home test versions for obtaining AC thresholds and an online gain prescription, respectively. In HR’s latest issue (April 2012, page 58), a letter from Paula Folkeard, AuD, Susan Scollie, PhD, and Prudence Allen, PhD, of the National Centre for Audiology at the University of Northwestern Ontario, who provided a subset of data for Dr Van Tasell’s research, comments on how “All data (audiometric and iPad) were collected under highly controlled conditions in a sound booth” by a registered audiologist who had performed otoscopy, ensured that the patient was free of cognitive issues that might interfere with an online test, and had received a full audiometric battery to rule out medical problems. The researchers conclude that, “We cannot endorse the accuracy of self assessment systems under non-controlled conditions, with uncalibrated transducers” and recommend that anyone concerned about a hearing loss to “speak to their family physician or a registered audiologist.”

Hearing Review Products is scheduled to publish an interview with hi HealthInnovations CEO Lisa Tseng, MD, in its Spring edition, and at the time of the interview in late-March, Dr Tseng did not acknowledge any problems with the online test.

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