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Medtronic Acquires Sophono: What Does it Mean for Audiologists and Their Patients?

Kevin Blalock

August 15, 2016

Interview with Kevin Blalock, Sophono


AudiologyOnline: SophonoTM was recently acquired by Medtronic, what does this mean for audiologists, and why might the hearing community find this interesting?

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Kevin Blalock: Sophono was a forward-thinking startup in Boulder, CO, that helped to introduce Transcutaneous Energy Transfer or TET technology to the market to help improve hearing for those who didn’t want a conventional treatment or abutment. Medtronic is the market leader in medical devices and has a vast portfolio of ENT products and extensive knowledge and investment in these disease states and therapies. With an established network of ENTs and clinicians, we now have the opportunity to catapult Sophono’s innovative therapy and technology to help better address and impact positive outcomes for hearing patients across the world.

AudiologyOnline: Tell us about Medtronic’s mission statement and how that supports those with hearing needs.

Kevin: Our mission is the help alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life. Our company lives this mission and adheres to this as a guiding principle. The restoration and improvement of hearing through devices like the Sophono magnetic bone conduction hearing system can help patients realize their full hearing potential and better enjoy life. Those implanted with the device can rest assured that they are using a device with extensive research and development and well documented clinical efficacy.

AudiologyOnline: The Sophono implant is a magnetic implant; does the dual polarity of the magnets lessen the efficacy of the device’s sound transmission?

Kevin: Sophono is unique in that it is a magnetic bone anchored hearing device containing two titanium encased magnets. One magnet is negative, the other is positive. This ensures the correct placement, as well as comfort, of the external, dual polarity Attract® magnetic spacer for the patient. The implant is not impacted by the dual polarity of the magnets and thus does not impact the quality of the sound transmission.  Other competing devices also contain dual polarity magnets in their devices.

AudiologyOnline: Patients with implantable hearing devices often complain of skin and hygiene issues.  How does Sophono address this?

Kevin: The Sophono system is lightweight and gentle on the skin and by design exerts the least amount of necessary pressure on the skin. Since the implant is abutment free, there is no open site wound and therefore no daily hygiene requirements for the device after the initial incision from the surgery has healed.

Also, to ensure a custom fix and maximum comfort, Sophono offers 12 Attract ® magnetic spacers that you can offer to patients and precisely fit using the specially-designed magnetic retention scale. The recommended pressure level in 1N – 1.5N.

AudiologyOnline: Is Sophono Noah compatible?

Kevin: Yes! The Sophono device is now Noah 4 and Noah3 compatible. Sophono also has an easy to navigate graphically intuitive software application. The programming software has notch filters to control feedback and also has prescriptive fitting options, which is great for fine-tuning to each patient’s individual needs. There are also very easy to follow YouTube videos explaining how to set-up and program the Sophono device. 

AudiologyOnline:  How has Medtronic addressed some of the legacy customer service issues of the startup?

Kevin: We have a professionally staffed and dedicated customer service and support team for Sophono. We acknowledge that there were customer service and support issues in the past and look to the future to strive to provide outstanding customer service.

AudiologyOnline:  How can Audiologists learn more about Sophono and Baha?

Kevin: Schedule an in-practice clinical demonstration of the technology where a dedicated Sophono Therapy Consultant will show you the Sophono device and answer any questions you may have about the treatment.

AudiologyOnline: What would you say to those who have considered Sophono in the past but were not persuaded?

Kevin: Now is the best time to try Sophono because our new relationship with Medtronic means this great product comes with even more support and dedicated customer service – all from a team known for its commitment to healthcare.

For more information about Sophono, please visit www.sophono.com or the Sophono Expo Page on AudiologyOnline.



kevin blalock

Kevin Blalock

Kevin Blalock is a Marketing Director For Medtronic’s ENT division, leading Medtronic’s initiatives to provide therapies for hearing loss and to partner with ENT and Audiology practices to improve healthcare for patients with hearing loss. Kevin is leading the recent acquisition and integration of Sophono, Medtronic’s first such therapy, and bring this life-changing technology to patients around the world. Kevin and the Medtronic team are designing innovative new marketing programs, developing new technologies, and improving support for Sophono patients, Audiologists, and surgeons, as well as addressing reimbursement and coverage for hearing loss. Kevin is leveraging Sophono’s technology and Audiology expertise, as well as bringing on more Audiology trained staff to support patients and Healthcare Professionals.