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Advanced Bionics Extends Marvel CI with Remote Programming and Expanded Linked Two-Ear Solutions

Sarah Downing, MS

December 14, 2023
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Read the interview with Advanced Bionics’ VP of Global Marketing, Sarah Downing, about AB’s new Marvel product launch and company website. AB’s Marvel CI now offers complete Remote Programming via the patient’s smartphone, a compatible CROS device, and a new version of the fitting software Target CI. AB is also unveiling a new company website designed to improve visitor experience and accessibility.

 

AudiologyOnline: Congratulations on the expansion of your Marvel CI product line! Tell us what’s new!

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Sarah Downing: Thank you! We’re so excited to share that Marvel is now even more marvelous! First of all, we’re offering Remote Programming, allowing patients to have virtual visits with their audiologists, and even receive full programming for their cochlear implant via their smartphones. This makes AB, to date, the only manufacturer offering complete remote CI programming. We’re also introducing a CROS device so anyone can benefit from a linked two-ear CI solution. Finally, our new programming software Target CI version 1.5 has even more user-friendly features that have been requested by programming professionals.

AudiologyOnline: Tell me more about Remote Programming.

Sarah Downing: CI patients often have to travel long distances for appointments with their audiologists. And for others, mobility issues, busy schedules, or the cost of travel make receiving timely and necessary care for their CI and hearing needs challenging.

That’s why AB developed Remote Programming via the new Remote Support app—the first app of its kind. It allows patients to have virtual appointments with their hearing care professionals using their smartphones. Besides a video chat function that allows patients and professionals to meet over secure connections, Remote Programming also lets audiologists adjust settings for their Marvel CI devices. This way, patients can discuss their progress, get their questions answered, and even receive full CI programming without a visit to the clinic.

Remote programming

AudiologyOnline: Remote Programming certainly sounds beneficial for patients. Do you think it can be helpful for audiologists as well?

Sarah Downing: Offering Remote Programming allows audiologists to be more accessible to patients who live farther away, have mobility issues, or have a hard time coming into the practice for any other reason. Giving patients more flexibility to meet with their audiologists with tools such as Remote Programming can help reduce appointment cancellations, late arrivals, and no-shows.

AudiologyOnline: How does the patient access Remote Programming?

Sarah Downing: First, the patient needs to download the free AB Remote Support app from either the iOS App Store or Google Play. Then, they should set up a Remote Programming appointment with their audiologist, just as they would any other appointment. When the meeting time comes, the patient should log into the app and follow the simple on-screen directions. Once their audiologist logs in on their end, they can proceed with their virtual meeting and CI programming session.

AudiologyOnline: How can audiologists offer Remote Programming to their patients?

Sarah Downing: For audiologists, the Remote Programming capability is built into the new Target CI version 1.5. In a Remote Programming session, they can have a video chat with their patient in the software. And as they make programming adjustments, those adjustments will be enabled in the patient’s Marvel CI device(s) in real time via the patient’s Remote Support app. For their bimodal and CROS patients, Remote Programming is also possible for the Phonak Link M hearing aid or CROS device linked to the Marvel CI, all in the same fitting session—another benefit only possible with AB.

AudiologyOnline: What else are you introducing?

Sarah Downing: We are completing our linked two-ear solutions with the introduction of the new CROS device. We pride ourselves on being the only CI company that truly values the importance of binaural hearing. We believe that, for people with hearing loss in both ears, the best way to hear is with two devices that are linked together to work as a pair. And this is repeatedly validated by science. Studies show that AB’s linked two-ear solutions reduce listening effort and fatigue, and provides superior speech understanding.1-3

Together with our sister company Phonak, AB remains the only manufacturer to offer linked two-ear solutions with hearing aids and cochlear implants designed to communicate and work together as a pair. But we also recognize that there are people with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears, who can only have one CI. For these people, we are introducing the new CROS.

AudiologyOnline: How does the CROS device work with Marvel CI?

Sarah Downing: The CROS on one ear picks up sounds from that side and transmits them wirelessly to the Marvel CI on the other ear. This way, listeners can have a more complete sense of their surroundings. Especially in noisy situations, such as restaurants or in the car, this option helps people hear without having to constantly turn their “better ear” to the speaker. In fact, studies already show that our CI and CROS give patients better hearing no matter where sounds come from.4,5

Marvel is the only CI system with a CROS, and it is made possible because of our collaboration with Phonak. Together with a pair of Marvel CI sound processors, or a bimodal pairing with a Phonak Link M hearing aid, the introduction of CROS makes Marvel the only CI system with linked bilateral, bimodal, and CROS configurations. 

Cros

AudiologyOnline: You mentioned Target CI is getting an updated version. What’s new?

Sarah Downing: Target CI has always been designed to be the smarter fitting software. To date, it remains the only software which allows professionals to program a CI and the associated bimodal hearing aid with one software in one fitting session.

Target CI version 1.5 is even more powerful, with enhancements in workflow, ease of use, convenience, and performance. Besides bimodal fittings, it now also supports programming of the Phonak CROS device together with a Marvel CI. We also reintroduced some of the popular features from the previous AB fitting software Soundwave, and professionals can also import patient data from AB’s electrophysiological measurement tool, the AIM system. 

AudiologyOnline: Where should our readers go to learn more about Marvel CI?

Sarah Downing: We invite everyone to visit our website. In fact, besides expanding the Marvel CI universe, AB also just launched a complete redesign of our company website. Besides modernizing its look and feel, we took special care to enhance its accessibility and readability. For example, we made sure text on the pages appears larger and has sufficient color contrast, and that key images as well as text can be picked up by screen readers for people with low vision.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), if people don’t receive clear information, they might face difficulties making important health decisions or accessing services at all.6 Recent studies show that many of the patient education materials from CI manufacturers, including AB, are written at a reading level much higher than that of the average American adult.7,8  To advance access to hearing healthcare, AB is committed to hearing health literacy and improving the readability of patient educational materials. So, for our new website and patient educational materials, we lowered the reading level by using more common words and simpler sentence structures.

AudiologyOnline: What a great initiative! So, what’s AB’s website address again?

Sarah Downing: For more information on Marvel CI, visit our new consumer website at AdvancedBionics.com. For our professional audience, you can access even more clinically relevant material at ABProPortal.com.

References

  1. Hornsby, B., Huang, H., Sohail, H., Gifford, R., Ricketts, T.A. & Picou, E.M. (2023, March). Effort and fatigue while listening: sustained speech-processing with cochlear implants. Poster presented at the American Auditory Society Annual Meeting, Scottsdale, AZ.
  2. Findlen, U. & Agrawal, S. (2023, June). Classifier-based Noise Management Technology Helps Children with Cochlear Implants Listen in Noise. Podium and poster presentation at the American Cochlear Implant Alliance Annual Meeting, Dallas, TX.
  3. Buechner, A., Bardt, M., Kliesch, S., & Brendel, M. (2022, May). Influence of Automatic Scene Classification Systems in Hearing Devices on Speech Perception in Real-life Situations. Poster presented at the American Cochlear Implant Alliance Annual Meeting, Washington, DC.
  4. Dorman, M.F., Cook Natale, S., & Agrawal, S. (2019). The Value of Unilateral CIs, CI-CROS and Bilateral CIs, with and without Beamformer Microphones, for Speech Understanding in a Simulation of a Restaurant Environment. Audiology & Neurotology, 23(5), 270–276. https://doi.org/10.1159/000493844.
  5. Dwyer, R.T., Kessler, D., Butera, I.M., & Gifford, R.H. (2019). Contralateral Routing of Signal Yields Significant Speech in Noise Benefit for Unilateral Cochlear Implant Recipients. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 30(3), 235–242. https://doi.org/10.3766/jaaa.17117
  6. The critical role of accessibility in health information: World Health Organization. (2023, April 25). ​https://www.who.int/europe/news-room/feature-stories/item/the-critical-role-of-accessibility-in-health-information Accessed on Oct 3, 2023.
  7. Nix, E., et. Al. (2023, March). Readability and Quality of English and Spanish Online Health Information about Cochlear Implants. Otology & Neurotology, 44(3), 223-228.
  8. La Scala, J.D., Zraick, R.I., Rosa-Lugo, L.I., & Cosby, J.L. (2022). Readability of cochlear implant brochures: A potential factor in parent decision making. American Journal of Audiology, 31(4), 1133–1142. https://doi.org/10.1044/2022_aja-22-00048. 

 

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sarah downing

Sarah Downing, MS

Sarah Downing is the Vice President Global Marketing and an audiologist at Advanced Bionics. Based in Valencia, CA, Sarah has been innovating, educating, and empowering in the field of cochlear implants for 18 years. Prior to joining AB in 2008, Sarah worked as a pediatric audiologist at a hospital in Chicago, IL, USA.



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