3 May 2016

self-fitting hearing aids

A new range of self-fitting hearing aids has the potential to meet the growing need for hearing technologies in developing countries and remote locations in the developed world.

The Hearing Cooperative Research Centre (HEARing CRC) and its Member, the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL), have recently studied the developments of this new technology to provide new insights that will help clinicians make better decisions about the best ways to use them.

The results of this research were summarised in a research paper published last week by Dr Gitte Keidser and Elizabeth Convery called Self-Fitting Hearing Aids – Status Quo and Future Predictions.

A new range of self-fitting hearing aids has the potential to meet the growing need for hearing technologies in developing countries and remote locations in the developed world.

The Hearing Cooperative Research Centre (HEARing CRC) and its Member, the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL), have recently studied the developments of this new technology to provide new insights that will help clinicians make better decisions about the best ways to use them.

The results of this research were summarised in a research paper published last week by Dr Gitte Keidser and Elizabeth Convery called Self-Fitting Hearing Aids – Status Quo and Future Predictions.

Self-fitting hearing aids have recently become available through unregulated, direct-to-consumer market in developed countries and the focus of HEARing CRC and NAL research aimed at understanding their manageability by clinicians and comparing their performance to professionally fitted hearing aids.

Predominantly positive findings highlighted in the paper suggest that self-fitting hearing aids when paired with teleaudiology (the provision of hearing services over the internet) could deliver these services to people who can’t access or afford the traditional methods.

“Self-fitting devices are now accessible in the marketplace and the product range is set to grow. Our research has identified the expectations of these devices to ensure good hearing outcomes are delivered to patients, and is currently investigating who can manage them without, or with limited, support,” Dr Keidser explained.

“There are challenges ahead and we believe there will be a significant and potentially rapid growth in self-fitting health related products following on from wearable technologies (such as fitbits).”

In the future, low-cost hearing aids are likely to consist of earpieces that connect wirelessly with smartphones, with health providers offering assistance through traditional face-to-face appointments with audiologists or through a tele-health infrastructure.

“If self-fitting hearing aids can be produced and distributed in such a way they are both affordable and the approach is sustainable, this type of device could offer the potential to meet the growing demand for hearing technologies in developing countries, as well as the more remote locations in the developed world,” Dr Keidser said.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 60 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss, with the majority located in low- and middle-income countries. Hearing loss is more common as people age and figures show that one-third of people over 65 years old are affected by hearing loss, with prevalence greatest in South Asia, Asia-Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa.