Cochlear™ Nucleus® Kanso® 2 off-the-ear Sound Processor: An Interview with Natasha McDougald
AudiologyOnline: In Summer 2020 Cochlear received approval from the FDA for a group of products - what was included?
Natasha McDougald: This past July, Cochlear received a suite of approvals from the FDA encompassing the entire Cochlear™ Nucleus® Implant system – from inside to out! This included a new electrode in the Nucleus® Electrode portfolio, the Slim 20 (CI624), optimized for insertion to 20 mm. It also introduced our next generation fitting software, Cochlear™ Custom Sound® Pro, designed for clinicians by clinicians, which brings the patient to the center of the fitting process. Our Nucleus® 7 Sound Processor was extended to our very first implant recipients with the Nucleus 22 implant – allowing them for the first time to directly stream music, entertainment and ZOOM calls from their smartphone.+ Finally, this approval brought our second generation off-the-ear (OTE) sound processor to the market, the Cochlear™ Nucleus® Kanso® 2 Sound Processor.
AudiologyOnline: After approval, what were the next steps to commercializing the Kanso 2 Sound Processor?
Natasha McDougald: At Cochlear, innovation is directly inspired by people: our recipients who use hearing to connect to life and our professionals who help them achieve this goal. With that in mind, we completed a large-scale controlled market release of the Kanso 2 Sound Processor to better understand how our patients would use it, and how our professionals would fit it. With 85 patients being fit with the Kanso 2 Sound Processor globally, we were able to collect valuable insights into how they wore their device, daily accessory usage and clinical fitting trends. A cohort containing both newly activated patients hearing with a cochlear implant for the first time and veteran recipients upgrading allowed us the understanding how this unique processor fits in their daily lives.
AudiologyOnline: What were the demographics of the patients who participated?
Natasha McDougald: We had a wide range of patients participating, from small children ranging to adults over 80 years old! 78% of our participants were upgrading to the Kanso 2 Sound Processor, while 22% were new cochlear implant activations – learning how to hear with their device.1
AudiologyOnline: What did recipients say about the Kanso 2 Sound Processor?
Natasha McDougald: Our first generation Kanso® Sound Processor taught us that patients and clinicians valued a comfortable, simple design that was easy to use, combined with smart features that positively impacted overall hearing performance.2,3 This evolved further in the Kanso 2 Sound Processor, with the addition of a built-in rechargeable battery designed for all-day hearing4 paired with a new auto-on feature designed to simplify the daily routine.
The simplicity of a Home Charger that charges, stores and dries the sound processor was one highlight, as well as the new tap interface. One recipient specifically mentioned the impact of direct streaming while enjoying listening to music in bed, and also the ability to listen to WhatsApp messages without disturbing her partner! During the global COVID pandemic, numerous patients commented on the ease of mask-wearing with the Kanso 2 Sound Processor, and this ease extended to those who wear glasses as well.
AudiologyOnline What did clinicians say about the Kanso 2 Sound Processor?
Natasha McDougald: Clinicians noted that over half of the recipients who chose the Kanso 2 Sound Processor did so because of the desire to wear a processor in the off-the-ear position, while other key reasons included the integrated rechargeable battery and connectivity.1 Daily battery life was top of mind with new recipients, and our clinicians found that when fitting the Kanso 2 Sound Processor the average estimated battery life was calculated by fitting software was 22 hours1*, addressing those concerns. Next, when recipients upgraded from our first generation Kanso Sound Processor they were likely to be fit with the same strength magnet, but when upgrading from a behind-the-ear (BTE) sound processor they often required a magnet strength increase.
AudiologyOnline As an industry professional, what benefit of the Kanso 2 Sound Processor are you most excited about?
Natasha McDougald: The innovation I am most excited about is Remote Check, a clinical care solution unique to Cochlear, powered by the built-in connectivity of our Nucleus Sound Processor portfolio.+ When requested by a clinician, recipients wearing either the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor or the Nucleus Kanso 2 Sound Processor can complete a hearing health check with our recently approved Remote Check^, part of our Nucleus Smart App.+ We know from talking with our recipients that they desire care delivered where and when they need it. We also know our professionals are working hard to triage care and offer care options to their patients. This desire was highlighted even further during the COVID pandemic, which has demanded new ways of delivering healthcare remotely.
After our expedited approval of the Remote Check solution for cochlear implants, we have been partnering with hearing healthcare providers and hospitals to reach those most in need of audiological care, providing an alternative to in-person appointments. Clinician-selected recipients with a Nucleus 7 or Kanso 2 Sound Processor and a compatible smartphone+ can complete a series of hearing tests and activities through the Nucleus Smart App, with results then sent remotely for the clinician for review. These activities can include implant site photographs, questionnaires around general health, sound quality of a patient’s sound processors, an audiogram test to precisely measure thresholds, a speech-in-noise test to asses performance in background noise and more. This allows the clinician a snapshot of a patient’s hearing health, to quickly determine whether a patient is progressing, or whether a follow-up appointment may be required, and introduces a new flexibility in care delivery. We are looking forward to launching this solution in tandem with the Kanso 2 Sound Processor to transform hearing loss and care solutions for our patients and professionals.
AudiologyOnline What aspect of cochlear implants make you happy to get to work every morning?
Natasha McDougald: It is awfully hard to choose – but what gets me up everyday is knowing about the connections our recipients are going to make – from the first time they hear a wave, the sound of their grandchild’s giggle or even video calling with a beloved friend. Knowing that even today, when circumstances have changed the way we socialize from the real world to the digital one, our recipients can make those connections with ease as a built-in feature of their Cochlear technology. Recipients no longer have to compromise wearing style and comfort to take advantage of proven hearing performance technologies,6-9 water-resistance5# and direct connectivity to compatible smartphones+ with the Kanso 2 Sound Processor.
For more information about cochlear implant sound processor features, visit here.
For tools to help counsel your patients in processor selection download here.
About the author: Natasha McDougald is the Product Manager for Cochlear Americas responsible for the Nucleus Sound Processors and Wireless Accessories and is just proud to be a mom to two wonderful children; one of whom is deaf blind with bilateral cochlear implants. Natasha has been with Cochlear for 9 years and has had a range of roles across the country including working with professionals for both surgical and clinical support, leading the South Florida and Northern California territory teams and mentoring families affected by hearing loss.
*Based on verification tests, expected battery life is up to 18 hours. Battery life may vary by individual. Cochlear Ltd. D1710313
** ForwardFocus can only be enabled by a hearing implant specialist. It should only be activated for users 12 years and older who are able to reliably provide feedback on sound quality and understand how to use the feature when moving to different or changing environments. It may be possible to have decreased speech understanding when using ForwardFocus in a quiet environment.
+ The Cochlear Kanso 2 Sound Processor, Nucleus 7 Sound Processor and Nucleus Smart App are compatible with Apple® and Android™ devices, for compatibility information visit www.cochlear.com/compatibility. The Remote Check feature of the Nucleus Smart App is available on iPhone and iPod touch. For compatibility information visit www.cochlear.com/compatibility.
# The Kanso 2 Sound Processor is dust and water resistant to level of IP68 of the International Standard IEC60529. The Kanso 2 Sound Processor with Aqua+ is dust and water resistant to level of IP68 of the International Standard IEC60529. This water protection rating means that the sound processor with the Aqua+ can be continuously submerged under water to a depth of up to 3 meters (9 feet and 9 inches) for up to 2 hours. The Aqua+ accessory should be used when participating in prolonged water activities
^ Remote Check is intended for ages 6 and older. The Remote Check feature is only visible and accessible if the feature is enabled by a clinician. Clinicians should consider the suitability of the feature before enabling Remote Check. Remote Check does not replace clinical care and does not involve remote programming of the sound processor.
1. Cochlear Limited. D1788166. Kanso 2 CMR Data Report. August 2020. N=85. Data on file.
2. Cochlear Limited. D1336982. Cochlear Kanso Evaluation Survey - Recipients - October 2017. November 2017. n=129. Data on file.
3. Cochlear Limited. D1343943. Cochlear Kanso Evaluation Survey - Clinicians - December 2017. December 2017. n=165. Data on file.
4. Cochlear Ltd. D1710313 CP1150 Battery Life Coverage Technical Report. 2020; Mar. Data on file.
5. Cochlear Limited. D1671736. CP1150 IEC60529 Ingress Protection Test Report IP68. October 2019. Cochlear Limited.
6. Mauger SJ, et al. Clinical evaluation of the Nucleus 6 cochlear implant system: performance improvements with SmartSound iQ. International Journey Of Audiology. 2014, Aug; 53(8): 564-576. [Sponsored by Cochlear].
7. Mauger SJ, et al. Clinical outcomes with the Kanso off-the-ear cochlear implant sound processor. Int J Audiol. Published online 09 Jan 2017 (DOI:10.1080/14992027.2016.1265156)
8. Wolfe J, et al. Benefits of Adaptive Signal Processing in a Commercially Available Cochlear Implant Sound Processor. Otol Neurotol. 2015 Aug;36(7):1181-90.
9. Cochlear Ltd. D1660797. CP1150 Sound Processor Interim Clinical Investigation Report. 2020; Jan. Data on file.
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