Interview with Angela Flores, Au.D., Director of Education and Training, Siemens Hearing Instruments, Inc.
Topic: 2012 Siemens Expert Series - Free, Online Seminars from Leading Experts Explore Best Practices in Hearing Aid Fittings and Patient Management
CAROLYN SMAKA: Today, I'm speaking with Angela Flores, Director of Education and Training for Siemens. Our topic is the 2012 Siemens Expert Series of online seminars. Angela, why is Siemens offering this expert seminar series?
ANGELA FLORES: Well, Carolyn, at Siemens we've always strived to provide professionals information that's relevant to their everyday clinical practices, not just information about our products and services. In our face-to-face meetings around the country, we have always included lectures that aren't, again, just about the Siemens products.
For example, we provide industry updates, such as information about how the industry is changing and how the delivery methods are changing. Other examples include information on how to market and promote private practices, or updates on the latest research on acceptable noise level. We want to be a resource to our customers, not just a company that sells them products, and the 2012 Siemens Expert Series is an extension of that philosophy.
The 2012 Siemens Expert Series consists of six online seminars. The online format, as you know, is an excellent medium to deliver current information on topics relevant to professionals' daily work lives, i.e., what's important to them clinically. It's also a great way to bring the leading experts in audiology to people who may not otherwise have a chance to hear them. The seminars can be accessed at any time, and are no cost to view.
We started this idea of an expert seminar series back in 2010 when Dr. Gus Mueller presented some courses for us on compression and uncomfortable loudness levels. It's been very successful and well received both by professionals who use Siemens products, as well as professionals who just appreciated the information to help them stay up to date. So, we continued and expanded the series last year, and we're looking forward to a great series this year as well. By the way, the 2011 courses are still available for viewing.
SMAKA: Excellent. So let's get into the details of the 2012 Siemens Expert Series. What's on the agenda for this year?
FLORES: We're very excited about this year's agenda. Our 2012 Siemens Expert Series will explore best practices in hearing aid fitting. Dr. Catherine Palmer will kick off the series with a seminar on April 27th about implementing a hearing aid gain learning feature. A lot of hearing aids today include learning or trainability features, and Dr. Palmer will be discussing what people are doing with them, why and when should we use them, and review results of some current research on these hearing aid algorithms.
Tinnitus has been a big topic lately, so next on the agenda is one of the foremost tinnitus experts, Dr. Richard Tyler. We're very pleased to have Dr. Tyler present current and future direction for tinnitus treatment on Friday, June 1st. This is obviously a topic that's very relevant to the patients that we see everyday in the clinic.
In July, we're honored to have Dr. Harvey Dillon and Dr. Gitte Keidser from the National Acoustics Laboratory in Australia present a seminar on the new NAL-NL2 fitting algorithm. They'll discuss the principles and background data, as well as comparison to other prescriptive procedures. Certainly this is something I think that all clinicians who fit hearing aids today will be very interested in.
We're pleased to have Dr. Michael Valente back this year;he presented in the 2011 Siemens Expert Series too. He will be discussing, "Thoughts on verification your professor may not have taught you". He'll go back and visit probe-mic measures and how they can affect your fittings, and how they may help you with whatever goals you might have for fitting hearing instruments within your practice.
We also have Dr. Gus Mueller, who is an excellent presenter and always a pleasure to listen to, presenting two courses on understanding compression, both reviewing the basics and then getting into more detail. I think these talks will be welcomed by those who are new to the industry as well as by those who have been practicing for some time. As you know, compression systems in current hearing aids are becoming more and more sophisticated, so I'm really looking forward to hearing from Dr. Mueller on this topic.
SMAKA: I learned compression 20 years ago, and with all the other integrated signal processing in hearing aids today, it's hard to understand how everything interacts to produce what comes out of the receiver. I'll definitely be tuning in to these courses from Dr. Mueller.
I wanted to ask you about the first talk you mentioned, Implementing a Gain Learning Feature, with Dr. Palmer. I haven't seen much research on that feature, or talks for that matter except for product-specific talks.
FLORES: Yes, it's a relatively new algorithm that's been implemented into hearing instruments. It's probably been around about five years, and there's been only a handful of good research on what these algorithms do, whether patients learn in the right direction, whether they can manipulate the controls, those kinds of things. So I'm excited to see what Dr. Palmer has to say about her current research on this feature.
SMAKA: It looks like Dr. Tyler's talk is going to be a great overview of currently what's available for tinnitus treatment, and then what might be coming down the road.
FLORES: Yes. Dr. Tyler will provide an overview of tinnitus treatment in order to give us a bird's eye view for what we can do in terms of assessing it, and what the current research is in terms of intervention. He intends to provide us with a greater appreciation of the fact that there are different subgroups of tinnitus, and this will inform us on how we address tinnitus as we try and provide some relief for those patients that suffer with it. Since tinnitus affects a large proportion of patients that we see, I think this topic will be well received by most professionals.
SMAKA: Yes, and while this talk is an overview, I bet he will provide resources and references for those who want to dig deeper.
Angela, NAL-NL2 is something many audiologists who are fitting hearing aids will be interested in, and I love the fact that online seminars can bring experts from Australia right to our offices in the rest of the world.
FLORES: Yes, that is a definite benefit of the online platform.
As you mention, NAL-NL2 is a brand new hearing aid fitting formula based on a tremendous amount of research. It's a very different formula compared to NAL-NL1. Some of that research includes very interesting information regarding differences in how much gain is prescribed based on gender, new wearers versus experienced wearers, the type of language (such as a tonal language versus a more Anglican type language). It will be definitely interesting to learn about the data that has been gathered, and how this data has been used to drive the new formula.
I'd also like to hear from Drs. Dillon and Keidser about how they plan to see it implemented across the different software platforms from the manufacturers. Siemens was the first to have the algorithm available in our software, and we actually helped support the research for NAL-NL2. I know that most other manufacturers certainly have it available now. It's just really starting to get disseminated out across the entire industry;at least one probe-mic company has implemented it into their hardware and software.
SMAKA: Seems Dr. Valente's talk on verification follows logically after the others;you've got the hearing aid fitting processed covered end to end from feature selection and fitting, to verification.
FLORES: Yes, and Dr. Valente is another excellent speaker. He has a great style that makes the information relevant and easy to understand. It's been a challenge for many of us to understand all of these terms within pro-mic measurements and how they really relate to what we're doing for the patient, and how they can help us clinically.
So Dr. Valente will look at some of the corrections that impact the final target, and what your goals are for particular patients and for your clinic.
SMAKA: I see that Dr. Valente's course is on Friday, August 10th. I'm going to assume that means the St. Louis Cardinals don't have a home game during the day on that day?
FLORES: No doubt Dr. Valente's checked his calendar, but we may want to be prepared to present that course from Busch Stadium just in case.
SMAKA: It looks like a great series. If professionals aren't able to make it to these live seminars, will the courses be recorded?
FLORES: Yes, absolutely. We realize that everyone has busy clinic schedules, not to mention busy schedules outside of their work. We will be recording each seminar so that they can be viewed 24/7, whenever it is convenient. In addition, we'll eventually be publishing the courses in other formats such as transcripts for those who prefer articles or text courses.
SMAKA: Excellent. So depending on your schedule, if you can't make the live webinar there's always a chance to review the recorded course. And the text courses are great as you can read them on the go, such as on a plane or while waiting for your kid at soccer practice.
FLORES: Our goal is to make them as accessible as possible, so that professionals can take advantage of the latest information from leading experts. As you can tell, we're really excited by the expert series this year.
SMAKA: I should also mention that all the courses in the 2012 Siemens Expert Series are offered for CEUs for AudiologyOnline CEU Total Access members.
We look forward to another highly informative Siemens Expert Series. Thanks to all the experts who'll be presenting, and to Siemens for hosting this series.
FLORES: Thank you, hope to see everyone for the first course on April 27th!
For more information or to register for one or more courses in the 2012 Siemens Expert Series, click the links in this interview, or visit the Siemens course library on AudiologyOnline.
To learn more about Siemens, visit www.siemens.com/healthcare or the Siemens web channel on AudiologyOnline.