iHear Medical, the leader in affordable, web-enabled hearing solutions, announced today the launch of EarPiNG™, which connects consumers with licensed hearing professionals for remote customization of iHEAR’s new generation of hearing aids. iHEAR’s products include the iHEARHD and iHEARMAX invisible hearing aids, and the iHEARTEST, the first and only FDA-cleared home hearing screener.
iHEAR is pioneering web-enabled hearing solutions to break through persisting barriers preventing people with hearing loss from obtaining hearing aids. iHEAR is challenging current hearing aid technology and delivery models by offering customized, medical-grade hearing solutions online and delivered directly to consumers’ homes for about $300 per hearing aid.
EarPiNG is the latest addition to iHEAR’s telehealth platform, which offers consumers comprehensive online tools to manage their own hearing care—from hearing screening to self-programming of the hearing device—all from the convenience of home. EarPiNG is the first telehealth service offered to consumers directly by a hearing aid manufacturer to improve access and affordability of hearing healthcare.
- EarPiNG enables iHEAR’s hearing professionals to “ping” a hearing aid anywhere over the Internet to adjust the settings.
- iHEAR customers “chat” online or by phone with a hearing professional to interactively optimize the world’s first web-enabled hearing aid.
“EarPiNG represents a step forward towards more equitable hearing care by reducing cost and shifting the care from centralized settings to local communities and homes,” stated Adnan Shennib, founder and CEO of iHEAR.
Changing Demographics and Socioeconomics
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 5% of the world’s population, or approximately 360 million people, suffer from a disabling level of hearing loss. While 95% can be successfully treated with a properly fitted hearing aid, less than 10% globally with hearing loss use a hearing aid. With the average cost of a single hearing aid rising to $2,400, and most need a pair, only 14% of Americans with hearing loss currently own a hearing aid due to excessive cost and limited access to hearing care. The percentage of hearing aid use is especially low in developing countries, with China having less than 5% utilization of hearing aids among the hearing impaired. “With iHEAR’s innovative online approach to substantially lower the cost and improve access to hearing aids, we expect iHEAR to create new markets globally, particularly in communities with a severe shortage of audiologists and basic hearing care,” stated Minglie Hu, founding partner with Shanghai-based Lighthouse Capital.
Disparity in Hearing Healthcare is Widespread
The rising cost of hearing aids and limited access to qualified hearing care has widened the disparity in hearing health, with the affluent enjoying the benefits of customized hearing solutions, while the majority continues to suffer the devastating effects of untreated hearing loss, including lower income, reduced access to education, and higher incidence of depression and social isolation. The disparity in hearing care particularly hits rural areas and inner cities, where populations are generally poor and have no access to qualified hearing care. Inexpensive and unregulated consumer-grade sound amplification products currently available online are notoriously ineffective due to poor quality and lack of customization.