San Leandro, CA (PRWEB) November 07, 2013
iHear Medical announced today its plans to introduce the world’s first web-enabled hearing aid system, targeting tech-savvy consumers seeking alternatives to over-priced conventional hearing aids.
The announcement was made today at the China Medtech Partnering (CMP-2013) Conference being held in Suzhou, China. The advanced technology developed by iHear Medical seeks to offer advanced hearing solutions at a fraction of the cost of available hearing aids, and in smaller form-factors for invisible wear. While 95% of individuals with hearing loss could be successfully treated with hearing aids, only 22% currently use them due to persisting barriers including high cost, limited access, and the stigma associated with wearing a visible hearing aid.
In the US alone, there are over 40 million Americans who suffer from hearing loss with prevalence predicted to rise significantly due to an aging population, growing use of personal listening devices, and hearing injuries for war veterans. Hearing loss is associated with a wide range of social, economic, and health problems caused by communication barriers and reduced access to health care for those suffering from hearing impairment.
In addition to offering dramatically lower cost and inconspicuous wear, the iHear™ system intends to revolutionize the dispensing process by offering consumers online tools to administer the entire fitting process from hearing testing, to individualized calibration of the hearing device—all from the convenience of home.
Developing cutting edge hearing technology is not new to Adnan Shennib, president and founder, and his team at iHear Medical. They have worked together for over 20 years bringing hearing innovations from concepts to the market. Shennib, a pacemaker engineer, joined the hearing industry as the Director of New Technologies at ReSound in 1988. He later invented and developed the Lyric hearing device at InSound Medical, a company he founded in 1998. InSound was acquired by Phonak-Sonova in a deal totaling $169M.
The current process of dispensing hearing aids requires consumers to go through cumbersome steps involving 4-6 visits to a clinic for hearing testing, counseling, hearing aid fitting, and follow ups. This conventional dispensing process can take over 1 month and contributes to the rising cost of hearing aids, currently averaging $1,700 per hearing aid, and most people require a pair. “The iHear system offers consumers not only a huge cost savings but also more control of the dispensing process, from the convenience of home. The iHear system is initially targeting tech savvy consumers who intend to retain an active lifestyle,” stated Adnan Shennib.
iHear Medical also plans to offer innovative payment options for its advanced hearing aids, including annual subscriptions and low upfront payments of as little as about $30. “We want to align the consumer experience and expectations with modern consumer electronics such as mobile phones and personal computers,” stated Adnan Shennib.
Hearing loss is a global problem with epidemic proportions. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 5% of the world’s population, or approximately 360 million people, suffer from disabling hearing loss. WHO also reports current production of hearing aids meets less than 10% of the global need. A disabling hearing impairment refers to a hearing loss of 40 decibels or more. More than a third of all hearing loss is attributed to noise exposure including loud music, noisy workplaces, and loud recreational equipment. Veterans are particularly vulnerable to hearing disability with more than 414,000 who returned home with hearing loss in recent wars post 9/11. Hearing injuries, which represent the most common disability among veterans, cost the US government more than $1.4 billion in disability payments annually, according to Government Accountability Office reports.
About HEARING FOR ALL™ Initiative
At the Suzhou CMP-2013 conference, Shennib also previewed the HEARING FOR ALL™ initiative which seeks to offer free hearing aids to low-income individuals. The program is being developed in collaboration with hearing advocacy groups and charitable foundations to provide hearing solutions to the low-income hearing impaired, who represent 40% of the impaired population in the US. According to industry reports cited by the Hearing Loss Association of American, a leading hearing advocacy group, hearing aid usage significantly impacts the earning power by about 50%, enhances emotional and mental stability, reduces anxiety and depression, and improves the overall health status for the hearing impaired. “By offering the gift of hearing to those who cannot afford hearing aids, we are adding another dimension and purpose to our mission,” stated Adnan Shennib. The company intends to disclose details about its HEARING FOR ALL initiative by January 15, 2014.
About iHear Medical
iHear® Medical is a venture-backed firm incubated by the Center for Medical Device Innovations, Inc. (CMDI) which focuses on developing platform technologies that create paradigm shifts in healthcare delivery. iHear Medical is founded by Adnan Shennib who founded and led the development of major Silicon Valley firms. Shennib holds over 100 US and International patents, issued and pending. Early backers of iHear Medical include Aphelion Capital and Highlight Capital. Shennib’s innovations have received major recognition including the Medical Device Excellence Award, and were featured in major media outlets including CNN, New York Times, Dr Oz Show, USA Today and Inc. Magazine. iHear Medical is Shennib’s latest venture dedicated to creating affordable and accessible hearing aid solutions for consumers.
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