Interview with Jennifer Hojnacki, Director of Lyric Marketing, Phonak
CAROLYN SMAKA: Jennifer, thanks for your time today. Before we get into the new Lyric2, can you provide an overview of Lyric?
JENNIFER HOJNACKI: Sure. Lyric is the world's first and only 100-percent invisible, 24/7-wearable, sweat-proof, shower-proof device that can be worn for months at a time. It was the first device to establish the extended-wear category.
SMAKA: You mention Lyric is worn 24/7 for months at a time. Exactly how often does it need to be changed?
HOJNACKI: Lyric will last up to four months.
SMAKA: Lyric has been available for a few years now, and as you stated was the first extended-wear device. What has the response been?
HOJNACKI: Patients are very satisfied with Lyric, and we have data that I can share based on a survey we conduct twice a year with patients currently wearing Lyric. We see that 94 percent of Lyric users would recommend it to a friend or a loved one. Also, 91 percent of Lyric users are very satisfied with the sound quality.
SMAKA: Those data are impressive, and that leads us to Lyric2. When was it introduced?
HOJNACKI: With Phonak's support, Lyric2 began launching late last year. We conducted two small beta launches to ensure the device performed in the real world like we saw it perform during our clinical study. We formally started to roll out Lyric2 in May to our Premier Elite providers and Premier providers in June - it is a rolling launch.
SMAKA: You indicated that Lyric is an extended-wear device, invisible when worn, sweat-proof and shower-proof, with high ratings for wearer satisfaction. What more does Lyric2 provide?
HOJNACKI: With the development of Lyric2, our goal was to improve the fit rate and comfort, while still maintaining all of the great benefits of Lyric. The good news is that we were able to achieve both. The new device increases the anatomical fit rate from 48 percent to 75 percent of people. We have also seen removals for discomfort decrease by 50 percent.
SMAKA: How does the new device achieve those outcomes for enhanced fit rate and comfort? What is different about it?
HOJNACKI: Lyric2 is 4 millimeters shorter, so it can be placed much deeper in the ear canal. It is also available in an extra Small size - it is a smaller circumference. The smaller size allows it to be fit to many more patients, without compromising anything from the standpoint of sound quality or functional gain.
SMAKA: Four millimeters might not sound like a lot, but when you are talking about an already very small device, that is a significant percentage of overall area, correct?
HOJNACKI: That's correct. I think a visual may help to bring to life what we are talking about, so I'm including an image that shows how the two devices are different in terms of shape and size.
Lyric1 (top) and Lyric2 (bottom). Lyric2 is 4mm smaller than its predecessor, yet still comfortable with superior sound quality.
SMAKA: Oh, I see. So the device on the bottom is the Lyric2?
SMAKA: You mentioned conducting a clinical study. Can you give me more details about how you tested Lyric2 in this study?
HOJNACKI: Yes, we tested Lyric in the largest clinical study ever performed in the hearing space - fitting over 450 ears. Fit and comfort were the primary measurements that we were looking to validate, while maintaining all of the current benefits of Lyric and all of the typical hearing aid outcomes on sound and sound quality. We fit some people who had been wearing the traditional Lyric, so we could do a side-by-side comparison. We found that most patients who currently wear Lyric could also wear Lyric2, confirming Lyric2 can be a replacement product for Lyric. In addition, we also wanted to make sure that people who were new or naïve to hearing aids could wear Lyric2. Here, we found that 75% of people could wear the Lyric2. We also saw removals for discomfort decreased by 50%.
SMAKA: For professionals, what type of marketing support is available for Lyric2?
HOJNACKI: Phonak has invested significantly to ensure there is a lot of support behind Lyric2 to make the launch as successful as possible. Specifically, investing in direct-to-consumer marketing that will drive new patients into Lyric providers' offices.
We are doing a large campaign with that involves a new creative direction. It features advertising on television, in national print publications, online search, in newspaper and digitally. For example, on television, you can see our ads on CNN,Fox News and TNT, specifically. As for Print, we recently ran ads in Prevention magazine, Smithsonian, and Reader's Digest, among others.
SMAKA: Those are big publications. That's excellent. How do measure the success of the advertising campaigns?
HOJNACKI: On a regular basis we look at how many calls are generated and how many appointments for our Customers have been set from those ads. A patient will see our ad running on television. There will be an 800 number that they can call. That number goes to our call center. If the patient is a candidate for Lyric the call center will contact one of our providers to schedule an appointment for that patient for them to trial Lyric. We have consistently seen that Lyric brings in new patients to a Lyric Provider's practice. The combination of new patients and high patient satisfaction means we can offer Lyric Providers with growth and more happy patients in their practice.
We started some of our direct-to-consumer advertising back in January. At this point, we have scheduled over 3,000 appointments for patients to try Lyric.
SMAKA: How does the rolling launch work?
HOJNACKI: The first phase is training the existing Lyric providers on Lyric2. The providers should be trained by the end of this year, if not earlier. Next, we will offer the opportunity to new providers to become a Lyric provider and be trained on the new device. Professionals who are interested in becoming a potential provider can visit www.lyrichearing.com/New-Provider.
SMAKA: Can you describe the type of patient who would be a candidate for Lyric2?
HOJNACKI: Great question. Lyric is a great option for anyone with a slight to moderately-severe hearing loss who is looking for a hassle free hearing solution that will allow them to live their life without limitations. Because people have the devices inserted by their audiologists and can wear them up to four months, they don't have to deal with the daily hassles of putting them in, taking them out or changing batteries. They can wear them in the shower. They can wear them when exercising. They can wear them while they're talking on the phone. They can basically wear Lyric2 during all of their typical daily activities. These benefits, in addition to Lyric being 100% invisible, makes it very appealing to people who have an active lifestyle.
SMAKA: Who would not necessarily be a candidate? Are there any contraindications to wearing Lyric2?
HOJNACKI: Just a few. Lyric cannot be worn while scuba diving or sky diving, so people who do that a lot may not be right for Lyric. There are also some medical contraindications which include chronic ear pain, middle ear conditions like chronic OME, and radiation to the head and neck. Aside from these, I would say the majority of people who have hearing loss are good candidates for Lyric2.
SMAKA: People who wear traditional hearing aids and scuba dive or skydive would be taking them out in those situations.
HOJNACKI: That's right. We do hear from some of our providers that they may have a patient who does scuba dive once a year, and in some cases, they will actually wear their devices and then take them out before they participate in those activities. So it's not to say that Lyric2 should completely ruled out for those patients, but you can't wear the devices during those activities.
SMAKA: Thanks Jennifer. I enjoyed getting up to speed on Lyric and Lyric2. Best of luck with the launch.
HOJNACKI: Thanks very much. More information such as a product guide, specifications, technical data and field study information can be found at www.lyrichearing.com
To learn more about Phonak, please visit www.phonak.com or the Phonak web channel on Audiology Online.