With the OTC Hearing Aid Act of 2017 having just passed the House this July and soon Congress, iHEAR has already disrupted the hearing health industry by bringing more innovative and affordable clinically effective hearing solutions direct to consumers.
The Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aid Act of 2017
The OTC Hearing Aid Act of 2017 which the provisions within are based on the recommendations in 2015 by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS). "The OTC Hearing Aid Act is consistent with measures iHEAR has been calling for to lower the cost and remove barriers for millions currently denied access to quality hearing care. The bill also creates a new framework for technological innovation and new business models," stated Adnan Shennib, Founder & CEO of iHEAR Medical.
The Disparity in Hearing Healthcare is a Problem
About 86% of Americans with hearing loss, over 30 million people, go untreated, making hearing impairment the most common form of disability. The consequences of untreated hearing loss include lower income, reduced access to healthcare and education, and higher incidence of depression and social isolation. Recent reports have highlighted how hearing aid use can be a life changing experience for many. The average cost to manufacture a hearing aid including the premium models is only $100. However, there is a 20x mark-up for a programmable hearing aid. This is primarily due to the inefficient distribution model that is dominated by the leading manufacturers who have spent billions in marketing, retail centers, audiology networks and overhead. Therefore the cost of hearing aids has increased creating a larger gap in the disparity in hearing health and it is increasing difficult to visit a hearing center or professional for those who can’t drive or simply live too far away.
iHEAR is Currently Providing Clinically Effective Programmable Hearing Aids Direct to Consumers
While iHEAR fully support the OTC Hearing Aid, we believe the new regulations will not address the broken hearing health system without innovations that empower consumers and deliver effective direct-to-consumer hearing solutions. These innovations include accurate home hearing screening, self-fitting tools, and telemedicine to connect hearing professionals to consumers in communities with limited access to clinical settings. In July of 2016, iHEAR began selling direct to consumers an affordable full service advanced hearing solutions platform that addresses all of the above: 1.) The First FDA Cleared Home-based Hearing Test 2.) FDA Registered self-programmable and adjustable hearing aids that clinically treat mild to severe hearing loss. 3.) A platform that enables remote support from licensed hearing professionals. This is a tremendous breakthrough as consumers who have not been able to afford programmable hearing aids now can and those who do not have easy access to a hearing center or professional can full treatment for their hearing loss from home. iHEAR Medical intends to leverage its proprietary online platform to be the first to introduce innovative direct-to-consumer distribution models including through drug stores and retail chains.