Hearing loss is an under-recognized and subsequently under-treated problem that is expensive for patients, healthcare providers, and health systems. Although 60 percent of people over age 65 have hearing loss only 18 percent use personal amplification. Untreated hearing loss creates communication barriers that are pronounced in high stress and complex environments like healthcare settings, which can be a serious problem if key health communication is missed or misunderstood. Under-recognized and under-treated hearing loss costs the US health system $3.3 billion each year. Currently, there is no way for health care providers to quickly screen hearing and provide immediate amplification for patients. Hearing for Health is a new device that screens hearing in real time and if needed acts as an amplifier to facilitate communication between providers and patients during health care interactions.

Technology Description

Hearing for Health is a small wearable device that is easily clipped to the patient’s clothing. Headphones connect the device to the patient. A healthcare provider administers an easy-to-use hearing screen through the device. The test conforms to World Health Organization standards and works in real – noisy – healthcare environments. If indicated, the same device can also be used as an amplifier to aid the patient in hearing the provider’s voice. Either party can control the volume. Currently Hearing for Health is being tested in real world environments to refine the screening and amplification tools.

Advantages

  • The only device on the market that screens and amplifies hearing
  • The only portable hearing screening device that meets WHO guidelines in real world communication environments and provides an amplifier for immediate use
  • Cost-effective for health care providers – traditional portable hearing tests are 20x the cost of Hearing for Health’s product
  • Easy to use screening and amplifier that allows any health care provider to quickly administer

Applications

  • Primary care and geriatric outpatient care settings
  • Hospice care settings
  • Palliative care settings
  • Inpatient settings
  • Veterans Administration health care settings
  • Assisted living and skilled nursing facilities

IP Status

Invention disclosure filed with the Innovation Institute in May 2017.

Stage of Development

Prototype development, validation testing, and market assessment.

Notable Mentions

  • Pitt Ventures 1st Gear Funding ($3,000)
  • Chancellor’s early stage commercialization fund ($5,000)