New Method of Hearing Testing Introduced by PHSI and Audigence

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Clarujust™ technology simulates real life sounds to profile hearing aid devices.

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Physician Hearing Services, Inc. (PHSI), a Florida-based provider of hearing programs and services for ophthalmology specialists, is excited to share the news about the ground-breaking method of testing for hearing loss developed by Audigence. Clarujust™, an Audigence creation, utilizes new technology which reduces errors and ensures diagnostic accuracy based on mathematical algorithms performed by a computer when profiling digital hearing aids and cochlear implants.

When a person displays signs of hearing loss and is tested for it, the most common form of testing currently used is the ‘tone’ method. A patient listens to tones of different frequencies and power levels and responds by pressing a button when hearing a given tone, thus, establishing a hearing threshold. The experience for the patient is a long and tedious one, and the results are subject to interpretation and to the skill level of the audiologist.

The problem with this manner of testing is that people do not normally listen to ‘tones’ in their daily lives. People hear speech, music, birds chirping, waves crashing, dogs barking, horns honking, and children laughing. Perhaps most significantly, people hear words: other people speaking. It is the inability to converse easily with family and friends that is most troubling to people, and what motivates them to seek to diagnose and to correct hearing loss.

In December of 1998, a patent titled “Automatic System for Optimizing Hearing Aid Adjustments” was submitted by Reginald Garratt, a co-founder of PHSI and a former Chairman, President and CEO of Knowles Electronics. Mr. Garratt had invented a computerized testing system that uses speech material instead of tones to measure a patient’s hearing acuity.

This new testing process begins by having the hearing-impaired subject ‘train’ a voice/speech recognition computer to distinguish his or her words as read from a visual presentation generated by the program. The speech recognition software is connected to an adjustment module of the patient’s programmable hearing aid. The computer generates a series of unrelated words directly into a speaker in the patient’s adjustable hearing aid. And as the patient repeats the words into a microphone, the software notes errors and automatically makes corrective adjustments to the hearing aid. This effectively transforms the diagnostic process from a discretionary human interpretation to a scientific computer calculation.

A Melbourne, Florida-based company called Audigence advanced this concept and completed clinical testing at the University of Florida, resulting in their own patent. Audigence founder and inventor Lee Krause enthusiastically embraced this exciting new technology brought to life with Clarujust™ in 2010. No stranger to hearing aid devices himself, Krause recalls being frustrated with the testing and profiling process after receiving a cochlear implant. It was his personal experience and a desire to help other patients with hearing aids that inspired his development of the Clarujust ™ software.

The field of hearing health testing has traditionally been characterized as a blend of art and science, with emphasis mostly on the former. “We’re putting science back into the fitting profile,” said Dr. Alice Holmes, who headed the University of Florida clinical trials for the new speech-based testing technology.

Clarujust™ is available on various hearing aid types as well as cochlear implants. It is a breakthrough technology with the potential to revolutionize the hearing health industry. As Krause states, "Clarujust™ will improve the quality of life for millions of people who suffer from severe hearing loss."

About PHSI: Physician Hearing Services, Inc. was founded by Reg Garratt and John Olive, two Senior partners that have identified the need for more hearing health professionals. Garratt and Olive joined forces in the year 2000 when they served together as Chairman and Executive Director of the Better Hearing Institute in Washington, DC. Their extensive backgrounds in healthcare marketing and planning, as well as hearing aids and hospital management, have fostered their continuing prosperous relationship into the hearing healthcare industry.

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