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Interview with Del Bloem President of GN Otometrics North America

Del Bloem

June 9, 2003

Topic: ASSR and PediHear

AO/Beck: Hi Del. Thanks for joining me today. I attended the recent ICS presentation at the AAA, and I was very impressed. Before we start talking about audiometric equipment and services, could you give me a thumbnail sketch of your education and involvement with the hearing healthcare industry?

Bloem: Sure Doug. I'm an electrical engineer, and earned my degree from Lehigh University. I also received an MBA at the University of Chicago, and worked for FMC Corporation for eight years. After that, I started in this industry when Bob Simenson and I acquired the assets of a small manufacturing company called ICS Incorporated in 1981. What we acquired was a few designs and three people. The business grew nicely for 20 years and in December of 2000, we were acquired by GN, Great Nordic, a leading personal communications company in Denmark, During the period before and after the acquisition, I was the president and Bob was the executive vice-president.

AO/Beck: Very good. What's your current title Del?

Bloem: My title is President of GN Otometrics North America.

AO/Beck: And that includes ICS, as well as Madsen, is that correct?

Bloem: Yes. It includes the North American sales operation of Madsen and the products that historically were ICS Medical's.

AO/Beck: Can you please tell me the types of audiometric equipment you offer?

Bloem: Under the GN Otometrics umbrella, we have Madsen and ICS Medical brands. One of the beneficial things about the marriage is that we have complementary and comprehensive product lines. Madsen's product line includes all the primary instrumentation an audiologist would need, such as audiometers, impedance testing, hearing aid fitting and testing equipment. Madsen also has the Capella OAE system. ICS brings ENG and other balance test systems, as well as the auditory evoked potential line. I should mention that we're one of the founding members of HIMSA, so we have a significant commitment to working with NOAH, and HIMSA's other products and services. GN Otometrics has a complete spectrum of audiometric equipment available to suit almost every need.

Recently we announced we're about to release our ASSR system, and we have announced the PediHear program. So this is an exciting time for us.

AO /Beck: At the AAA I heard a little about PediHear. Can you please give me an overview of that?

Bloem: Doug, as you know, ICS and Madsen, separately, have always focused on providing solutions for hearing health care professionals who work with infants and small children. Now, together as GN Otometrics, we've launched PediHear, which is a comprehensive approach to the screening and diagnosis of the pediatric population, from birth to childhood. But PediHear is not just products. The training that goes with our products is really a key ingredient. Audiologists are entitled and encouraged to spend time with us when they purchase our equipment. We also provide excellent remote support over the telephone and on the Internet. So, PediHear is more than the AccuScreen, or the Capella. PediHear also includes education, training and clinical expertise, all of which, we provide.

AO/Beck: So PediHear is the total grouping of pediatric tools and knowledge for pediatric diagnosis and screening, is that correct?

Bloem: That's right. It's not a single product. It's not just hardware or software. PediHear offers the hearing healthcare professional a better way to approach the pediatric patient, using clinical tools, training, knowledge and interpretation skills.

AO/Beck: Very good. And can you go back to the OAE screening device, what was the name of that device?

Bloem: The AccuScreen is an OAE and an ABR screening device. It's a handheld device that can be used at bedside. It's designed to easily go into the pediatric unit, the newborn unit, the NICU, and to perform tests wherever they're needed.

AO/Beck: Very good. Thanks for clarifying that. With respect to auditory evoked potentials, I guess the new and improved EP test is the ASSR (Auditory Steady State Responses). Can you please tell me about GN Otometrics and where they are with regard to ASSR?

Bloem: We're very excited about ASSR and we have a partnership with Vivosonic for this project. ASSR uses an audio-stimulus to identify frequency specific information from EEG signals developed in a resting infant. We can do this in a much more effective way using steady state responses as opposed to using clicks or tone bursts as the stimulus. The ASSR has a lot of advantages. It is frequency and ear specific, can reach higher intensity limits (120 dB HL) and can provide results a lot faster than those you would get gathering ABR based tone burst information.

AO/Beck: If I recall, the presentation at AAA said the goal was to test 4 different frequencies on each ear, and to measure all 8 threshold responses and the total test time would be about 15 minutes or so?

Bloem: That's our goal. We're not quite there yet, but we're close and we're optimistic we'll be able to meet that goal when we're ready to launch the product.

AO/Beck: Again, if I recall the AAA presentation correctly, and sometimes I do get things confused, I think the 4 frequencies were 500, 1000, 2000 and 4000 Hertz?

Bloem: That's exactly right.

AO/Beck: What is the name of the ICS ASSR product?

Bloem: Well, it's going to be a capability available to those who purchase the CHARTR EP System. So it'll be another test capability within the battery.

When do you anticipate it will be available?

Bloem: We're actually doing system testing now with our development team. They're putting it through its paces. Realistically, I anticipate it'll be commercially available by January 2004.

AO/Beck: Will ICS hold ASSR classes on a regular basis?

Bloem: Yes, anybody who buys our products is entitled to come to the facility in Schaumburg and have a day's worth of training on the GN Otometrics OAE, EP and ASSR systems. We really encourage people to come for their hands-on training. Training courses are offered several times a year, and we try to keep the groups pretty small and intimate so we can answer specific questions for people.

AO/Beck: And how far is Schaumburg from Chicago?

Bloem: Schaumburg is about 30 miles northwest of Chicago, but only about 15 miles from O'Hare airport.

AO/Beck: Del, for people who would like to learn more about PediHear, what is the dedicated website address please?

Bloem: We kept it simple. It's and the ICS toll free number is 800-289-2150.

AO/Beck: Thanks Del. I appreciate your time this morning.

Bloem: Thanks to you too, Doug. I appreciate the opportunity to address the Audiology Online members.

PediHear - Pediatric Solutions (Requires Adobe Acrobat)

PediHear - Advancing Pediatric Hearing (Requires Adobe Acrobat)

Click here to visit the Madsen website.

For more information on ICS Medical click here.

Click here to visit the ICS Medical website.

ACIA Series | Earn up to 4 hours! | View courses

Del Bloem

President, GN Otometrics North America (previously ICS and Madsen)

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