Exciting Times in Hearing Care: GN CEO Gitte Aabo Shares Insights, Perspectives
AudiologyOnline: How important is innovation in the hearing industry?
Gitte Aabo: Innovation is crucial. It’s a way to bring care to more people with hearing loss. At GN Hearing, we work to addresses people’s unique needs and make them feel more involved, connected and in control.
We know that wearing hearing aids still carries some degree of stigma. Today, only one in five people treat their hearing loss and there is a lot we can do to change that. We also know that this can lead to long term effects on an individual’s cognitive and mental health.
Consequently, we strive to innovate with different product and experience offerings and continue to drive consumer expectations for hearing care. We offer a portfolio of Organic Hearing solutions to help people take action on their hearing loss earlier.
AudiologyOnline: Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think these will help people?
Gitte Aabo: We want to change the experiences of people who use hearing aids.
Today, phones are used for so much more than just making calls. They are used for socializing, retrieving information, gaming, shopping, listening to music. Could a hearing aid do the same? Could they help diagnose diseases? Could they help to prevent accidents or falls or even help predict health related issues?
We’re already implementing many accessibility features by working with academia and big tech companies like Apple and Google so people can stream calls, music and use their hearing aids hands-free, like advanced headsets. But we want to work towards providing hearing aid wearers with even more benefits. For example, hearing aids could provide flight updates and information when you’re checked-in at the airport or weather updates for your GPS location.
Right now, we’re focused on improving the patient experience, so it’s tailored to each individual’s needs. We know that up to one-third of hearing aids purchased end up in a drawer. Improving the customer journey in the first 90 days is incredibly important to us. So, we are doing more to encourage people to wear their hearing aids from the very beginning, including developing an engagement app to support new hearing aid users with their onboarding journey to better hearing and help them adjust to the sounds of life with hearing aids.
AudiologyOnline: What are your thoughts on the OTC regulation in the US?
Gitte Aabo: We welcome this new regulation; it fulfils the goal of reaching even more people. We expect this new regulation will expand the market by helping people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss, and the younger consumer segments, take their first steps towards better hearing earlier than they do now. Today, too many people do not get the hearing care they need and we are fully in support of giving more people access to effective products.
AudiologyOnline: What do you think the impact of the OTC regulation will be on the industry?
Gitte Aabo: We still expect millions of Americans will continue to look to the care and support of Hearing Care Professionals. Their care and expertise are essential for the majority of people who need hearing aids. Solutions that come with the care and expertise of a professional will remain the preferred choice of many. For ReSound and GN Hearing, OTC will not change our commitment to the independent Hearing Care Professionals, as we will continue to offer innovative technology, programs and services.
AudiologyOnline: How do you see the future of the hearing aid industry?
Gitte Aabo: These are certainly exciting times. 2021 has seen new technology providers enter the sector, new distribution models, and soon, new regulation in the form of OTC in the U.S. We recognize that we must be competitive in these spaces, however, that does not reduce our commitment to support our existing customers.
With the increasing digitalization of the world, consumers are demanding online solutions and services from the hearing industry. The online space has been growing for several years and has been accelerated by the pandemic.
GN Hearing recently acquired New York based Lively – a leader in online hearing care and digital marketing platform – which enables consumers to explore, purchase and receive hearing care from licensed hearing care professionals in the U.S. all from the comfort of their home. We believe consumers will move towards a combined online and offline, “blended”, model and following this acquisition, we can develop new offerings for many more potential consumers who seek both an online experience and access to a clinic.
GN Hearing continues to dedicate resources to this area, with customer-centric innovation that supports the individual experiences with hearing aids that are straightforward, effortless, and appealing.