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Hearing Care is Health Care

Søren Nielsen

April 27, 2015
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Interview with Soren Nielsen, Oticon


Carolyn Smaka: Thanks for speaking with me today, Søren. Tell me about the concept of hearing care as health care. Can you expand on what that means?

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Søren Nielsen:  Thanks, Carolyn.  We are seeing more and more research evidence that there is a strong link between healthy living and staying socially active.  It plays into everything we have said for many years, that good hearing is key to quality of life.  We think a more holistic approach to hearing as part of overall well-being is now more important than ever, especially in light of all the new research in this area.

Carolyn:  The research you’re referring to is the studies linking hearing loss to cognitive decline?

Søren:  Yes, research shows that hearing loss contributes to declines in both the cognitive and physical functioning of older adults. While there’s no direct link to show that wearing hearing aids means you won’t have those declines, we do know that hearing aids are key enablers for social activity.  An active, socially involved lifestyle is important for physical and emotional well-being.  That’s what we believe in, and that is the bigger picture we are focusing on.

Our BrainHearing™ approach to technology is one example.  There is a very strong relationship between the way you process signals, and the brain’s ability to make sense of those signals.  It’s more than just addressing the hearing thresholds to make sounds audible. What really matters is that the brain can use and interpret those signals with the least possible effort. 

These messages resonate much more with consumers, than simply talking about hearing loss.  As you know, people often delay getting hearing aids.  They may deny or minimize their hearing loss, and they may think they can ‘get by’ without treatment.  Talking about hearing care as a part of overall health care to support the brain is a different, and more effective, approach.  It’s a new way to look at hearing loss, and we’ve seen a very good response to it.

Oticon’s technology to support the brain is not a departure from what we have always done. Rather, it’s a natural extension of our philosophy, along with new innovations and improvements such as those found in the Inium Sense platform.

Carolyn:  When we talk about this concept that hearing care as health care, does it refer only to the aging senior demographic?  Or is there relevance to pediatrics and younger people?

Søren:  This concept applies across the life span – there is no lower age limit.  We see similar consequences of untreated hearing loss in children – there can be a negative impact on academic achievement as well as social and emotional development.  Doing the very best you can is ageless. Our goal in developing the  Hearing Care is Health Care ™ concept is to deliver a message that is  definitely relevant to people of all ages.

Carolyn: What has the feedback from the market been to the new Inium Sense platform?

Søren:  The feedback has been excellent.  Professionals have noted improvements in speech in noise performance, and have confirmed that the personalization process is key to the success of the fitting. 

We also recently launched Tinnitus SoundSupport™, a next generation relief sound generator that provides highly personalized relief of tinnitus, whatever form that tinnitus may take. Tinnitus SoundSupport is fully integrated into select models of Oticon Alta2 hearing instruments, and offers relief sounds personalized to individuals’ needs and preferences throughout the day.  With Tinnitus SoundSupport, users can choose the combination of relief sounds they prefer - from soothing ocean sounds to more traditional “white noise” broadband sounds – and it has already been very well received by consumers. My own my mother-in-law has tinnitus, and Tinnitus SoundSupport helps her to relax.  She lives on a farm, and when she spends time at home doing things that she enjoys, such as walking outdoors or reading, there is little background noise.  The ocean sounds offer major relief for her.

One thing that we believe is critical to the success of the whole hearing care equation is the hearing healthcare professional.  The personalization process by which hearing solutions are tailored to individuals’ preferences is not something that can be ordered online.  This takes a professional. When we say Hearing Care is Health Care, it is with the understanding that hearing care needs are addressed in partnership with hearing care professionals.  They are at the heart of everything we do at Oticon.

Carolyn: Thank you Søren, it’s been a pleasure hearing the details of the Oticon’s latest products and initiatives.

For more information about BrainHearing™ technology, Inium Sense and Performance Line solutions, visit www.OticonRevolution.com.  You may also learn more at the Oticon Expo Page on AudiologyOnline.

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s ren nielsen

Søren Nielsen

President of Oticon, Inc.

Søren Nielsen is the President of Oticon, a leading manufacturer of modern solutions for people that are hard of hearing. Oticon is part of William Demant Holding, and is a pioneer within the field of audiology and high-tech digital technology. With a Master of Science in Engineering from DTU, Denmark’s Technical University, Søren Nielsen has spent over a third of his lifetime in Oticon and at age 37, he became President of the company. Søren Nielsen carries the overall responsibility of the Oticon business across the globe. Oticon is active in more than 130 markets.