There are only 13,000 audiologists in the United States, but there are approximately 50 million Americans with some degree of hearing loss, 60% of whom are of working age. It is estimated that one billion young adults worldwide are at risk of permanent hearing loss due to unsafe listening habits. Meanwhile, more than half of US counties do not have a single audiologist and even major cities have a large patient to population ratio that makes access difficult.
This is causing a huge access problem, which Tuned, a digital hearing health company, is solving by providing hearing healthcare benefits to employers and organizations, allowing their employees to connect with an audiologist via telehealth.
“Tele-audiology bridges this gap by increasing the efficiency of care for both the provider and the audiologist, reducing the cost of hearing health care, and opening up access to audiologists across the state rather than being tied to a specific geographic region,” says Danny Aronson, the company’s CEO and co-founder, told WaterNews.
“States such as Alaska, North Carolina and Kentucky have invested in the development of tele-audiology after seeing disparities in hearing health care outcomes in how long and far they must travel to reach an audiologist.”
Tuned aims to get hearing care as a standard benefit for every employee in the US, like dental and vision, and now it can begin making that vision a reality, it announced on Monday, led by Distributed Ventures $3.5 million in funding. In partnership with Idealab NY and Elements Health Ventures.
Users begin to tune in with an online screening, which they then review with one of the company’s 200 available audiologists. Patients receive education about hearing loss prevention through safe listening habits and earplug recommendations, and can also consult with audiologists, who can address their situational hearing needs that may not be best addressed by conventional hearing aids. cannot be done formally; If the patient requires a hearing aid, it will be delivered directly to their home.
“Tuned Audiologists are uniquely prepared to discuss over the counter hearing aids, assistive listening devices, specialized headphones, software and apps to create a robust and holistic hearing health care plan.”
“Research links hearing care interventions with improved mood, reduced depression and social anxiety, and improved quality of life. By giving streamlined access to audiologists, more patients can experience these positive outcomes.”
Tuned is currently available to approximately 1.4 million users through its contracts with NFP, Coral Health, Nomi Health, UCP, The Grammy Foundation and Flume Health, and the patient population using Tuned is working-age adults who have There is a wide range of alleged hearings. difficulties, as well as those who have tinnitus or auditory processing disorder. As such, they have a wide range of hearing related disorders and the issues may start earlier in life than many people expect.
The company also sees patients who present with very specific audiologic issues such as hearing loss that would benefit from assistive technology, tinnitus that would benefit from tinnitus therapy, or processing issues that would be good candidates for auditory training.
“Often these patients have not engaged in hearing health care in at least 15 years, yet report high levels of motivation to improve some aspect of their hearing. Typically, they lose their hearing in some aspect at work. whether it’s hearing over a work dinner, better audio on video calls, or tips for clearer phone calls. Beyond the work place, many patients want to practice safe listening habits and manage their hearing loss. prevention, both recreationally and at work,” Arsonson said.
By offering hearing as a benefit, Tuned can reach patients much earlier than traditional hearing clinics; In the current setting, patients wait an average of seven to 10 years after they first notice hearing loss before they actually seek care with an audiologist, compared to between 5 months and 19 months for children in rural areas to be fitted with a hearing aid. There is a delay of up to cochlear implantation compared to their urban counterparts,
All of this can affect the patient’s long-term auditory performance due to the progression of hearing loss and the presence of hearing loss; Without proper education and counseling from an audiologist on proper hearing protection and safe listening habits, the prevalence of hearing loss will increase significantly, with Johns Hopkins University projecting the number to balloon to 73.5 million American adults by 2060.
“Delay in accessing an audiologist will increase the likelihood of developing preventable yet permanent hearing loss due to unsafe listening habits, including the one billion young adults worldwide who have been found to be at risk,” Aronson explained.
By opening these lines of communication to younger, working-age people, he believes its patients are more informed consumers of hearing healthcare, and more educated on the importance of hearing loss prevention.
In addition, by adopting tele-audiology, TUNED provides more accessible care to patients and serves as a trusted resource for patients who have never attended a hearing healthcare service before, or who have previously been unable to follow up. were lost for The idea is to make that care more convenient.
“While Tuned has many potential avenues for growth going forward, the focus for 2023 is generating B2B revenue from the employee benefits space. We are building out that division. And also creating innovative offerings that will be announced in Q3,” Aronson said.