How Hearing Healthcare will Evolve in 2022: Discussion with Kat Penno and Andy Bellavia

In this week’s episode, Dave Kemp chats with Kat Penno, Director of Hearing Health at Nuheara, and Andy Bellavia, Director of Market Development for Knowles Corp.

The 2-part episode provides a deep dive into where things are headed in 2022, including:

  • The increasing sophistication of patient expectations and education
  • Hearing device technology innovations currently underway
  • The evolution of hearing care service delivery models

Part 1 Transcript Here

Dave Kemp 0:10
Okay, and welcome to another edition of This Week in Hearing a show where we discuss all types of news and innovation that’s happening, broadly speaking in the world of audio, more specifically for this episode in the world of hearing health. And with me today I’m joined by Kat Penno and Andy Bellavia, two of my good hearables and hearing aid pals so. So good to have you to back. Why don’t we go one by one let you introduce yourself. We’ll start with you, Kat.

Kat Penno 0:38
Hi, oh, I love that the three amigos back together again, I’m Kat Penno, and I’m the current Director of Hearing Health with Nuheara. Prior to working with Nuheara I ran my own telehealth business called Hearing Collective where I specialized in telehealth consultations and digital apps and digital health. That was one part of it. And the other part was consulting as well. I’ve got a really big bee in my bonnet about the adoption rates of hearing aids in general hearing and the uptake of hearing health in the world. I’d like to see our clients and consumers reducing that age from 72 years of age of hearing aid adoption, right down to the 30 to 40 year olds, when we start to use hearing tech, we’re a bit more proactive about our health care and then transition across as we need through through the lifespan. So that’s what my ultimate goal is with my professional career. Thanks for having me on.

Dave Kemp 1:38
Absolutely. It’s great to have you on. And of course Mr. Andy Bellavia.

Andy Bellavia 1:44
I love that three amigos. It’s great. I appreciate you and inviting me again, Dave to be on with Kat it’s, it’s always a pleasure. I really like beating it around with you guys. I’m Director of Market Development for Knowles. And we’re a component supplier to the hearing health and other industries. I’m responsible for all the in-ear products which are not prescription hearing aids. So I’ve been involved in the hearable side of things from the beginning, I mean going back to Bragi, and Doppler and so on. And, and it was really, I’ve appreciated from the beginning, the innovation that that Knowles always was involved in to advance hearing science and hearing aid technology. And, of course, oh about five years after I started working for Knowles, I became a customer myself wearing those. And so I really I’ve seen it both from, you know, the industry side and also from the patient side. And still, you know, very much have always been an advocate for, for hearing care and hearing innovation and accessibility, everything that can move the needle on the low adoption rates in hearing care today.

Dave Kemp 2:54
Yeah, well, thank you so much for being on Andy, we were actually complimenting you, before we started recording with your beautiful Christmas tree in the background, we found out that’s actually a picture, that’s what Andy’s bottom half of his house looks like. That’s that room down there. It’s beautiful. And then Kat mentioned that it’s also 40 degrees, where she’s living- in her part of the world, but that’s actually 40 degrees Celsius. So she is, her Christmas setup’s a little bit. A little bit more tropical than Andy and I. But he tropical. But, you know, regardless, for those watching, you know, the three of us have known each other for years now. And it’s always a lot of fun, we usually do this on my podcast, bringing it over here to This Week in Hearing this time around to do one of these usually doing like once or twice a year to just kind of talk through some of the major things that are happening. And as we head into a new year, it seems fitting to, to all hop on and talk through it. And so, you know, for today’s conversation, we kind of bucketed the talking points into three big buckets. And we’ll kind of go through all three and throughout this conversation. But ultimately, it’s the ways in which the patient journey and the consumer expectations are changing. It’s the you know, seemingly incessantly increasing advancements of the technology and all of the really, really exciting things that are being yielded by this technology and the breakthroughs happening. And then the third would be you know, kind of the evolution of the the hearing, healthcare service delivery model. There’s a lot of things happening at the macro level and then also sort of more in the micro level that are I think are gonna really shaped the way in which care is facilitated in 2022 and beyond. So the way we thought that we would kick this off is, you know, as we speak through that consumer, you know, changing expectations and the evolution of the patient journey. Andy I thought you would be a really great person to talk to as somebody that as you just mentioned, you do wear hearing aids now. I think you fit into that, you know, I don’t know if it was a full 7 to 10 year gap, but you were hesitant for a period of time. And then. So I’d be curious to hear about sort of that process of getting to the point to where you decided ultimately to get fit with hearing aids, the process of being fit and what life’s like now. And then ultimately, if you were Andy, just call it five years ago, but in 2022, what would those expectations be like now? What, how would you want to approach this whole new facet of your life, sort of in light of how things have changed in the span of time that you’ve really been following this space?

Andy Bellavia 5:40
Yeah, you know, a lot of things have happened all at the same time, my own personal journey, and also, the technology, hearing tech, and also hearing delivery models have all, all more or less changed together. I’ve been wearing for three years now. And I waited the required seven years before getting fit. And, you know, really, I could say, when, when I think back about it, and I’ve reflected on it a lot, because it’s part of the discussions I have with other people is that it was an act of resistance in my case, it’s about it was so gradual, you know, just little by little is, especially in social settings, you know, where, where I had a harder and harder time hearing people further down the table. And you know, and eventually it got to the point where I could only talk to the people around me at around a loud pub or restaurant, and, you know, other situations like that, it got to the point where if my spouse was talking to me when I had my back turned to her, you know, I had a hard time understanding her, you know, so it happens so slowly and slow, so gradual ,so gradually, that you get yourself lulled, you don’t realize where you were, and you know where you’re at now, because it happened so quickly or so slowly. And also, I knew, I knew what the journey was, like, you know, busy at work, or busy with other activities and volunteer things I do and whatnot, I knew that it was, you know, a visit to the doctor, the ENT and and multiple engagements in audiology, like what am I going to find done to do all this? I am okay, you know, it’s fine. And that’s how you talk yourself down that seven year journey. And what I will tell you, I would, I would have said this three months after I got fit is – it was a stupidest thing I ever did. Now, mind you, if I started that journey today, I would probably be in a self fitting device when I was milder, and then worked my way into it. Whereas at the time, even three years ago, I mean, there was barely a device, you know, that would have done well, three years ago, I was already getting severe enough that it wouldn’t have worked. And five or six years ago, the sort of devices available today to get my feet wet in hearing care didn’t exist. And that’s really what’s different now. And what’s so exciting now is that both in the delivery model in in the devices, there are a lot of accessible solutions for different people at different places in their journey. And that’s the exciting part about where we’re at today.

Kat Penno 8:13
Andy, I always love hearing your reflections because I think they’re so important to hear out in, in our industry, for the professionals and our customers or the clients, everybody who’s in your boat. Could you tell me a little bit more about your feelings at the time? If you reflect? I mean, yes, you’re busy in your day to day life. But when you miss parts of conversations, or your wife started to yell at you, if she did this, wondering, you know, how did you really feel about how what was your emotional response to the, to the missed pieces of the conversation?

Andy Bellavia 8:53
Well, I didn’t really get a lot, you know, like some people get a hard time from family members. And I didn’t really get that I you know, my, my spouse talked to me about it and, and I knew she was right. I’m a social person. And the thing that really got me was was how I was becoming increasingly unable to participate in social situations. That was the hardest thing. And I was traveling until the pandemic I was traveling all over the world and meeting people everywhere, or going out with friends when I was back home and that was just getting harder and harder to do. And that’s so much of who I was. I finally just said to myself really are you going to sacrifice all that just because you won’t carve out a few hours of work get your hearing taken care of. I mean, it really bordered on your ridiculous by the time I finally got off off my chair and went and did it and that that was really a shame. And I think that’s a shame. For whatever reason other people are compelled to wait like I did

Kat Penno 9:58
Andy that’s, it to me it uh honestly blows my mind often. And I asked you about your emotional response because I think a large part of were hearing healthcare shifting ease into this space of psychological ownership. And in order for us to deliver truly self fit, self managed proactive hearing healthcare, I think we have to understand the nuances of each individual who comes in and how that can be empowering to them, when they go out and have to use these new small tricky devices that go into their ears, I think we have to improve the user experience and the situation in the in the real world as much as we can without having this very heavy clinician-led or physician-led model, which is, which is what I think hearing healthcare was maybe say 30 years ago, 20 years ago. And up until the last couple of years, we’ve all been anticipating the release of the OTC Act and learning more about the details of that, which I might get Andy or Dave yourself to talk to you a bit more. Because I guess my views is a bit tained being in Australia. But I’m all for the act and really excited to, to hear how it rolls out. I’ve been listening to a lot of Cliff Olson’s breakdown over it, which I thought was excellent and read Karl Strom’s write up about the write up about it, I myself didn’t go through the 114 pages that were released. So it was good to hear about these other experts and their point of view on it, because I think it will severely influence this mild moderate hearing loss category. And even here at Nuheara we see that those beyond this category, we’re going to talk in categories, we have a lot of consumers coming to us who don’t fit the model in terms of the gains we can give them and the hearing loss severity and their needs. So to me this, it’s really telling what the consumer wants and how they behave and want to behave versus what’s out there in the world. So I think it’d be really great if if we look at, like diversity of the channels, the service and the technology, productive healthcare to reactive healthcare to proactive health care?

Andy Bellavia 12:19
Well, I’ll just add to this opening part of their conversations, I think I’m a poster child for how hard it’s going to get people to come to the realization that they need to address their hearing loss. And in the thing about OTC is, it’s a more accessible solution for people who are mild and mid but they still have to step up and say, I need to address my hearing. And, and I’m a distance runner. And so distance runners are all very self aware. And the same would be true with people who bike right. You’re very aware about what your body’s doing, and what it’s telling you. And, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve just naturally made accommodations for where I’m at physically at that point, because, you know, an older runner is not the same as a younger runner. And you have to do things differently. You have to adjust and adapt. And I would do that quite seamlessly. I don’t I don’t have any issues being where I’m at than my running, even though I can’t turn out the times I did 10-20 years ago. All good, right. And yet hearing, I did not approach it the same way I waited and I waited and I let it get worse and worse. You know, I would never do that in running. And if I need to get a different shoe because I’m older now I just wouldn’t go to a different shoe. Right? But in hearing No, in I look at it this way. If a person like me, rides down, you know, that slide to the bottom before they address their hearing loss, it’s going to be hard to get people to think about their hearing differently. That’s actually think I think the biggest challenge. It’s not only about the price of the device, there certainly an accessibility issue because one of the reasons why I didn’t do it was because, you know, it’s there’s a lot of friction in the journey. And if you live in a place where audiologist is far away, like you live rural, for example, it’s even worse. But ultimately, people have to realize and admit to themselves that it’s time to address their hearing. I think that’s the hardest thing. And that’s the thing we’re gonna have to work on the most and all this OTC is fantastic. I think it’s going to drive accessible solutions globally, even though it’s a US initiative. And I mean, we really should talk about that because I think that is one of the keys of greater adoption rates of hearing care and hearing solutions. But I think ultimately getting people to be self aware about their hearing and then address it as a single hardest thing.

Kat Penno 14:43
You hit the nail on the head, Andy, I love this. I just jotted it down. Cause that was like that is a gold nugget. Thinking about hearing differently. That’s exactly what needs to happen at a global scale. And everybody has has a part to play in that. Yeah, I agree. Let’s talk more a little bit more about the OTC Act. And then I also really have a hankering to talk about other tech and how that would apply to hearing health and the consumer journey and, and that long term behavior change. So over to you, my American comrades.

Dave Kemp 15:18
Well, I, Andy you said a really interesting term there too, which is friction, right. And I think that that’s so key. You know, I think that reducing friction is something that we as like an industry can control – is making it easier. But to your point, I fully agree with you that until the until the consumer or the patient actually takes it upon themselves to want to take action. You know, I’m not sure how much of a different form factor or a lower price point, or even a more accessible solution is going to matter, when people might be coming at it from a similar angle to you. And I think that the devil really is in the details with – to your point, one of the biggest problems is it is usually this gradual decline. And I think that that presents a problem because, you know, because of the gradual nature of it, it’s a very slow erosion. And so it might take you years to really fully lose certain frequencies. So you just slowly start to kind of forget that you’re not really hearing the birds chirping anymore. And it’s not something that just happened overnight, where you’re like, you’re, you know, kind of like, shaken by it. It’s that gradual miss that I think is part of the real problem here. And so that’s why I keep coming back to, you know, one of the I think one of the most effective ways that you can combat this is basically what’s happening right now, with the consumer side, the real consumer side, I mean, I’m talking the Skullcandy, $100 headphone consumer side, that’s getting this technology baked into it, unbeknownst to the consumer. And I think that, you know, it’s basically like, you have a portion of people that are going to buy these devices with these new ubiquitous features, you see all kinds of really exciting partnerships from this sort of like at the operating system level, whether it’s like with what Mimi’s doing. And you take even a step back from that you look at kind of like what Bragi is ultimately trying to do with the OS piece of being the OS of the you know, of all these different curable devices, and you bake in that layer of functionality into it so that when you unbox those $100 headphones for the first time, you’re actually seeing that, oh, there’s this like new feature that’s included in here that might just take turning it on. And I think that that could be really powerful for a lot of people, because again, going back to this gradual effect, you know, you have this like slow erosion of different frequencies, and then suddenly you restore them. Almost unintentionally, but then you get a taste of like, oh, wait, that’s what I’ve been missing out on. And then, for me, it’s like, again, in the absence of people really having this initiative to at scale, want to combat this, you almost have to just have a ubiquitous type solution that solves it, you know, across the board for those that are ready to have that conversation. And so I think that’s one of the most positive things that’s happening right now with regard to that is that it’s that rising tide lifts all boats, it’s, you know, this idea that there really is kind of like a standardization that’s taking place right now, of these hearing healthcare oriented features. And I think that’s going to be a gigantic net positive because I think you’re going to just create a massive amount of exposure.

Andy Bellavia 18:43
Yeah, I agree. Hearable tech is really a Trojan horse for introducing, hearing, hearing related issues to the consumer. Just exactly what you said, the first time you buy well, you’ll be able to buy Skullcandy with Mimi embedded. And the first time somebody buys a Skullcandy. And you know, they go through the setup, and they say, Wow, this music sounds great. You know, or look what Apple is doing. Now, you know, if you use air pods and an iPhone, and they’ll actually alert you that you’ve been listening so long that it’s going to reduce the volume level. And of course, you’ve got nascent hearing functions being built in AirPods Pro. And once you have those things rolling, people start to absorb it in a natural way and just wait like my dream is that one day Apple does one of those funky and cool AirPods commercial, except it’s a person walking into a crowded pub, and it’s all just babble. And he just goes like this and the babble goes away. And they talk with some friends and you know, and all of a sudden hearing is going to be very, very cool. And I think that’s exactly what’s going to happen not even official OTC devices but just hearing devices or hearable devices that have hearing related features in it are going to introduce people to hearing care and hearing issues in a very non threatening, very positive, reinforcing way. And that’s going to start to change the game altogether.

Kat Penno 20:13
100%, I agree – this, this will be the new standard in any hearing tech that you purchase, if there is not an option to personalize and then augment your hearing experience to some extent, then you’re probably not living in the 21st century of where these smart devices can take you. And it’s similar to homes, right? There are smart devices in your house, now your air conditioner can be hooked up to your Wi Fi, your Thermomix can also be hooked up to your Wi Fi, you can do a whole bunch of things with all the tech you’ve got on your house, I think everything that we wear on our bodies will certainly get to that extent. And that excites me so much that, you know, brands like Skullcandy, and Mimi are having these partnerships, because it’s exactly what we need to slowly nudge these little bits of golden nuggets that us as healthcare professionals, and those in the industry know about, and we get so frustrated that nothing, we don’t see anything changing largely from the consumer at scale. So I think that’s exactly what needs to happen en mass. If you I can’t, yeah, just like I’m totally pumped about what’s going to happen in this space of all the tech that’s coming in, I think when I think about other technologies, and how it’s happening for the consumer. And when I think of the consumer in this space, I’m thinking teenagers, they’ll start their journey with like you said, these affordable headpieces, watches, rings, whatever it is. And then they’ll just be so accustomed to these apps and looking at this data and understanding how they work and what their normal looks like. And then how does professional how do we fit into that role? And then what does that look like in the years to come? And I’ve been thinking about it a loads more as the years change and the factors that influence how industry changes. And I still believe that the service component of healthcare professionals is extremely important. And I think what’s currently happening now in this space is still going to be the status quo, which I don’t think is necessarily bad thing. I think those who require face to face, on hand clinician lead support, they will always be there. And then we’ll have this these new opportunity and these new markets and these new behaviors opening up. And then that clinician will also will look quite different. So I go back to conversations we had before we’re I think what I envision is clients will come to us with this data from devices that are almost agnostic. So someone might come to me in the future with Skullcandy devices and these Mimi hearing tests and say, Hey, I think this is happening, can you help me and this might be someone in their 30s, who’s a young professional, and then we’ll talk about what solutions are available to them as they progress their careers, they tell me their goals, I say cool, you can try all these tech this app out in the real world come back and let’s work together or I can support you five asynchronous messages that yeah, the world is the world is our oyster. And I’m really excited to have these consumer electronic brands come into the space and impart these little bit of education or knowledge, translate quick and nudge this nudge this consumer along earlier.

Dave Kemp 23:37
I love that you mentioned that you this was I this is one of my favorite things to talk about with you is the idea of like these data health coaches, or health data coaches. And I think that you and I really see eye to eye here where I think that the hearing professional, like if we’re really thinking about what what role do they play today, the vast, vast majority of those patient interactions are there typically one of or one of three things really I mean, it’s pediatrics in newborn testing and Infant Hearing Screening, and then it’s dealing with older adults and age related hearing loss. And then it’s also all of the different conditions that happen across the age spectrum, but usually skew more toward, you know, the higher severity levels of hearing care. And so it’s very medical in that sense, where it’s usually catering to those that need the help the most. However, I think that because of that it because of how much it skews toward those higher ends of severity. I think that we’ve sort of just kind of neglected the, the rest of the market in that sense. And in terms of like a hearing care professional actually having some sort of relationship with a 30-something that might actually not have any hearing loss. And I think that this is what’s really exciting is that, you know, as you look at the way that the the wearables, like broadly speaking, are maturing, they’ve gone from being like, if you really look at the wrist as being the precursor to what’s probably going to happen with all of these different body worn computers, the the natural progression has been that, you know, basically, they were searching for a use case. And they kind of landed on it over the last like two to three years, which is largely around, like taking the fitness data, and then either going and becoming using it in a medical setting, or like going even more granular in the fitness data to become to start to garner and glean actionable insights, like this whole portion around insights, actionable things that you can decipher from the data is like wearables 2.0. And so I always now think about like, what is that going to look like when we’re talking about in the your devices that you’re wearing? By and large all day, if it’s like a hearing aid, or even if it’s air pods, you have a giant portion of the population wearing these things for extended periods of time. So the first question is like, what kind of data can be captured from that? And it’s not just biometric data. Like, yes, there will be heart rate sensors. And there will be all kinds of different PPG sensors that can capture the biometric side of things. But you look at like, what Starkey is doing with Livio, that’s really interesting from they take all the acoustic data to be able to tell a story and see, are you getting out of the house? Are you doing are you challenging yourself from a, you know, basically like a cognition standpoint. So you have that you have everything that’s coming with, you look at these big, giant behavioral companies like Noom, and everything that they’re trying to do around weight loss behavior, in encouraging healthier lifestyles, smoking cessation, all these different things. And then also you look at, like, what’s going on with headspace and calm in this mental health piece, right. And so, again, the ears super interesting in this regard, because it’s actually serving two really distinct roles. One is it’s the ability to be a data capture, center. And then the second is that it’s like the interface in which you’re having the, you know, you’re basically experiencing the audio internet. And so these two things combined, I think, really lend themselves to this idea where you could have, whether it be the the hearing care professional is like taking a portion of the data that’s being captured, and helping to make sense of that, again, going back to this like Livio piece where you’re looking at the cognition data and you’re seeing, you might be, you know, first of all, you’re not utilizing your hearing aids much at all, because you’re not interacting with others. And then second, like, Are there troubling signs for my cognition standpoint. And so that’s one very specific example. But when we start to look at the future of this, I really agree with you that much of the role of the professional again, when we’re looking at the broader scope of things very much might be around this, you know, I’m an expert of all things ears. So I’m going to first I’m going to fit you with this thing. But also, I’m going to help to make sense of some of this data that like, I’m an expert in really deciphering through as well. And all of that just makes me really excited. Because you realize, like, there’s a gigantic role for somebody to play this role.

Kat Penno 28:21
I just had this image as you were talking, Dave, and it was really like this big culmination of everything you were saying to the point where these lot these larger external factors like audio content, and the ease being the gateway, to your experience of this audio content and enjoying it or not, and maybe really think, excuse me, or envision that it will be the standard that everyone does a basic air conduction screening with their device, to experience a better meditation about a new experience a bit or whatever it is, to get you there. And then when things start to deteriorate, there might be that popup message that says, hey, you really got to do something about this. And you do because the understanding of how you’re hearing or experience the content and the world around you has been, it’s starting to track and I just had this vision of everything coming together. And the role was as the professional will be healthcare coach with the ability to use a longitudinal data set and understand and, and I love that stuff. He’s got the ability to look at so many health factors in the device, because it totally makes sense to me. You know that a lot of conferences in the audiology world now focused on cognition. How can the audiologist be doing hearing tests, diagnostic hearing tests and maybe a basic screening of really red flag to the GP or the referrer? Hey, we need to do something about this because we know social isolation. depression, loneliness is a large healthcare concern or issue in the world. So are we the best people placed to do something about that? Yeah, I think so. Andy?

Andy Bellavia 30:06
Yeah, I think you’re exactly right. And, you know, despite all of the tech that’s coming out, I think there’s always going to be a place where the hearing care professional is actually going to expand in one of the most intriguing areas, I think, is what you two just talked about. When you look at the link between hearing loss and cognitive decline, you look at the ability not only to help correct for hearing loss, but also to measure cognitive functioning in a hearing device, you really have a powerful tool for helping people age well, because you now have in the, you know, coalescing on the hearing professional – cognitive data, hearing data, and a person who has the expertise to address both or certainly to red flag it, you know, if you have a medical-cognitive decline issue, that’s the person who’s going to pick it up first, both from the way they interact, maybe assessments they do in person or online, but also the data coming from the hearing device, while at the same time, at least theoretically, reducing the rate of cognitive decline by addressing hearing loss. It’s a very exciting area. And, and one facet, I think of where hearing care is going in the future, because traditional hearing care is about putting a hearing aid in a person’s ears, and they can hear somebody’s voice better without addressing a person’s entire lifestyle. So I mean, tomorrow’s even today’s you know, some some hearing care profession professionals, but not nearly enough of them will address the total lifestyle will ask their their client. Do you like listening to music? I love listening to music. Well, I can give you good quality music with this device over here because a hearing aid isn’t it. You know, what do you do throughout your day? Well, I work I’m a professional, I have a lot of zoom calls. Well, let me tell you how to get the best audio experience during a zoom call. Right. So all of those things, that the relationship between health, cognition, and hearing, and lifestyle, they’re all going to coalesce into hearing care professional, has a place, they’re probably the best place there. Whether served remotely or you know, in person, I think that is the hearing care professional of the future.

Dave Kemp 32:26
Yeah, I mean, I have a bunch of thoughts here to tack on both of what you said. You know, I agree with you. First and foremost, I think that the the, I mean, I’ve had so many of these conversations lately on my podcast and on here, where it’s like this idea of what’s going to be the role of the provider in the future, the role of the provider is totally going to expand, so long as like each individual provider takes it upon themselves to do so, I’ve had so many encouraging conversations about new, you know, we were talking just before we started recording there, you know, cuz Kat’s down in Australia, and I asked if she ever runs into Angela Alexander down there, which she does not, she’s on the opposite end of the of the country, but like, you know, so So Angela is leading the charge around APD auditory processing disorder, that’s a huge, like swath of field that you can go and you can go into, in there’s like, lots of different examples like that. So I have absolutely no doubt in my mind. But again, I think it goes back to this idea of like, Kat, you said something there, where it’s like, you know, you’re gonna have these, like baseline tests that are issued through these applications. And don’t forget, all of the hardware that’s coming out will have these like capabilities baked into them. So you can have, you know, when you go into Noom, or you go into, you know, your podcasting app or whatever, like, I think it’s very feasible to think that in, you know, matter of like, one to two years, as this becomes more pervasive, you’ll actually see a lot of the applications driving this as well, they’ll say, you know, we want to make sure that you get the best sound quality from Spotify. And so we want to, you know, basically measure your hearing in match you to your profile or something like that, you know, and this is where I will give Nuheara like a lot of props, because they saw this early on, which is getting, to your point at, it’s like, these complete lifestyle changes. As we become more connected. And in these more like digital virtual settings, you know, having your, your fingerprint of your ear, you know, your earprint, and having a custom profile, be able to be configured for all the digital sound that comes out in your life, I think is highly, highly important, too. So we’re at this like really early onset, I think of, you know, you historically had these devices and in the role of the provider was very much to make sure that that device was optimal for your like ambient physical acoustic environment. Now, like as a second iteration, you want to make sure that their internet experience is very similar, and I think that we’re going to just see, there be more more examples where it’s like, Wouldn’t it be nice if I had my hearing profile for my Netflix on my TV, or the zoom call that I’m having right now. And I think like, as a hearing care provider, you’re probably the most uniquely suited to make that like scenario real for a lot of these people. And there’s a lot of value already today. And I think it’s plausible that it’s just going to extend to more and more use cases of like, this is your individual Sound ID for the world.

Andy Bellavia 35:28
And I think that attitude is actually essential. To a certain extent, I think of myself as a canary in a coal mine. I mean, not exclusively, but I think I’m on the front end of people who grew up connected. And people, you know, in my cohort or following are going to demand that they have devices that serve their entire connected lifestyle. I mean, I listened to I listened to podcasts, and it’s, it’s, it’s a joy to listen to podcasts are corrected audio, but in a pandemic, and realistically afterwards, there gonna be a lot of people who spend more time talking to others on the computer than they do in person. If you don’t address that part of a person’s lifestyle, then you’re really leaving them out. I mean, everybody talks about zoom fatigue. And I am 100% amazed, I’m streaming this audio through my hearing aids right now, through the TV connectors, a low latency TV connector. And it’s fantastic. I mean, I can do this all day and be relaxed about it. Because I’m now going into cognitive overload, trying to understand people out of the speaker’s of my notebook computer, playing into the hearing aid microphones rather than direct streaming. And all of these kinds of issues are going to need to be addressed for connected people later on. They’re going to reject a hearing aid if they don’t get good music quality. Well, hearing aids today, they’re getting there. But the way you address that issue is to use set somebody up with an alternative device like say the Audeara headphones for their music listening. Right? And so Okay, fine when you’re out and about where your hearing aids when you want to listen to high quality music, put these headphones on, right, getting people to the best hearing situation and all the different parts of their life is going to be essential going forward, because everybody following me is going to demand those things.


Part 2 Transcript Here

Kat Penno 0:10
Oh guys, so many things to talk about just gonna highlight Sound ID for the world Dave that somebody has got a trademark that because that is so accurate. And it leads into exactly what you’re saying, Andy, that the consumer expectation with hearing aids is very, it is unrealistic, because they’re thinking that this device is going to do it all. But the reality is that it doesn’t. And I think back to you as a runner, you’re not going to go out in your flip flops and do a marathon and those you might I know there’s a trend happening in barefoot running. But look, my point here is that you’re going for a run, you’re probably going to put your own as on you go into work, you might put your sneakers or your black leather shoes, boots on, you going out to the beach, you might go barefoot, so you have a choice of what you’re going to wear to support your your foot or you’re walking, or you’re running. It’s the same when I’m riding my bike shoes, it’s exactly the same I say this to a lot of consumers is that it’s exactly the same when it comes to hearing technology now. And I draw the diagram where the hearing technology sits at the top and Andrew, you’ve got the medical grade devices, these your options, and here are the consumer electronics. And these are your options. If you’d like to have improved speech intelligibility in these environments than hey, these devices over here are going to work really well. And if you’re wanting to stream a movie, then these device here are going to work really well. So I think it’s about understanding your consumer needs really intimately and addressing them holistically. Hey, these apps are going to support you really well. All the platforms out there, Android and iOS have excellent apps, Apple and now just did now transcribe with Apple collaboration using machine learning tech in the background to to foster these excellent tools and Android has live transcribe it’s It’s insane how accurate speech to text is these days. So the technology part is just going to evolve so quickly, that we really going to have to, as professionals embrace this change, I think it and start being strong advocates for it, you know, the clinic of the future. And I love that episode with Mark Truong where he spoke a bit about the Genius Bar, let’s have clinics that look like the Genius Bar and have access to these, these hearables and these hearing tech that you can just buy over the counter. And then have these professionals on front or you know admin on front who can support this to extend and they go actually identify that an individual might need prescribed medical grade devices or more because people don’t know what they don’t know. And what’s on the internet is mind blowing. Our consumers tell me all the time, it is so unclear what’s what and who’s who in the hearing aid or the hearing world so and it’s just next level.

Andy Bellavia 3:23
Well in the thing is, is there a few people who can figure all this out for themselves, but most cannot, where are they going to go to really get set up with the best hearing solution for the different parts of their life. It’s going to be the professional.

Kat Penno 3:39
And it makes me think about the cool changes that are happening in the channel. So we’ve got the traditional bricks and mortar clinics, the direct consumer models like house, and then the and then OTC with what’s happening with Best Buy releasing the Hearing Solutions category. You know, you’ve got these big binds from these brands that have mass consumer foot traffic in the States, for example. And I can only say brands like JB Hi Fi which is the Best Buy equivalent. And Harvey Norman’s down here doing exactly the same in the next year, the next 12 months. And so that’s all the peripheral system is what I talked about. And then when I think about Angela, what she’s doing with APD and being the global champion for that, which is excellent. And yes, we don’t see each other as even though we’re both in Australia, she’s on the East Coast, West Coast. Perth is the most isolated capital city in the world. So I’ve always been a fan of zoom calls and video calls for this reason because we feel so connected. What she’s really focusing on, which is what Noom do really well because they don’t have a device they they’re an application is the central part is this this order tree functions of what’s happening at that very granular level. To get somebody to change their behavior in the long term sense. And Dave, I agree like Noon do it so well, I think I saw, I can’t remember the article, so I won’t quote it or the report that came out. But Noom is in one of the top five have been hype when I can’t quote it exactly. But their growth is exponential. And they’re growing more and more throughout the world. Because the subscription model and their customer contact and service is just next level. And the changes in the impact they’re having on people from a healthcare perspective, is huge. So I think you’ve an application can do that, from a psychological ownership point of view. Where does hearing healthcare fit in? In the same regard?

Dave Kemp 5:46
Yeah, I completely agree. I think like, in for those that aren’t aware, Noom is basically a, I know that like main use case of it is to lose weight, I think they’re expanding into like other lifestyle changes. But the big thing that it does is it, it basically is a it’s a behavioral application where you have to fill out this, like all of these, this information, and then it periodically, like checks in with you and you’re sharing information with it all the time. And as time goes on, it learns more and more about your behaviors, you know, it starts to understand why you’re eating at certain times. And it starts to try to kind of like, bring to light maybe some of the reasons like are you really stressed out right now. And and so the whole idea behind it is that it as it learns more about you, it becomes like a buddy, and it helps you to really understand like, what’s going on with that behavior, and then it gradually nudges you toward a healthier behavior. And I know people I was talking to Chris Cardinal the other day, who’s you know, with amplify, he said, he was 50 pounds on it. And Delaine Wright, who I interviewed on here, he had his daughter’s wedding coming up, and he lost like 25 pounds on it too. And both of them said the same thing, which is, like gets in your head and it starts to really recognize like, better than you even know yourself, it starts to really like he’ll, you’ll get like a notification at a time where you typically will go and eat that like, you know, you’ll get into the freezer, and you’ll start eating that pint of ice cream. And it will like say, Hey, you typically go and you eat ice cream around this time. And so like, again, going back to your question cat like, what does this look like in the world of hearing healthcare? Because we’re, I like to look at like, what’s actually going on outside of this industry? And then try to think through like, well, how will that ultimately make its way around. So again, you have this combination of an all day device, a device that’s going to probably be laden with sensors, so you’re going to get some biometric information. So you’re going to have an even stronger feedback loop of the information, you’re feeding these things. And then the third is going to be the ability to like have almost this is where I’m so fascinated with everything that’s going on in the voice technology space, is the conversational AI piece, because a lot of that, like I’m not saying general AI and a sentience thing I’m saying more of just being able to do the input of the questions that neumes issuing to your phone today. Imagine if you have that as something that’s in your ear. So like the hearing, the device that you’re wearing in there, I think is going to be really, really important for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. And so again, it like begs this question of like, Where Where does that, like lead itself in terms of the opportunity for the provider? And I think there’s a multitude. I mean, I think that it just might better informed the provider about the overall experience the patient’s having. And then also, I think there’s, like you said, like behavioral and psychological elements of this, that might tell a broader story. So there’s just so much going on in this regard. But I think that the ear is such an in, by extension, the hearing care professional, of, you know, basically servicing this type device in providing an optimal device fit and experience for all of these new applications. Like we’re seeing the first foray of this with podcasting, and all of like, people just gradually moving more and more toward audio. And I just continue to think, like, follow that out across the next few years. And it’s going to just explode in more and more ways. And I think there’s going to be lots of different opportunities. But again, it all revolves back around to the fact of if you’re a provider, and you’re, if you just want to only kind of do the what was the status quo like 10 years ago, and you don’t want to have these conversations about the broader possibilities that are that this might pertain to in looking at it, like Andy said, like, the lifestyle. The enhancements that can be had here are the ways in which you’d want to use that technology to better facilitate all of these things that you do throughout your life. You’re kind of like shortchanging the patient. And when there’s all kinds of have new places like Best Buy that you can go and you can get fit with that. You have to ask yourself the question, How am I different from the patient journey like in the patient experience than any of these other channels? And if you can’t answer that question, I’m not sure you can charge a premium for that. And I think that’s kind of the existential question right now is like, what does this look like? And I think there’s some really, really exciting, different routes. But the fact of the matter is the technology itself in the the ecosystem of applications that this is going to tether into, is going to become just more and more robust as time goes on.

Kat Penno 10:34
Totally. And I think if, if you’re thinking, this bit out there, I think you think about the brands out there, like Spotify and Strava and others that do the yearly wrap up for their customers. If that doesn’t tell you that people want to know how much what’s my top song, what’s my, you know, how many hours have I spent in the bike this year and running, if you don’t, if you can’t do that yearly, wrap up for each individual person out there, and you’re just doing it in a blanket sense then you’ve misunderstood people and in health care in general. And I think what I love about Strava, because I looked at it last night as as they wrap up, and they’re really unsung subscription model in the health and wellness space, they’re in the billions of dollars is that they take that data, and they say, hey, you’ve done this amount of climbing to see, you’ve done this amount of exercise in this in these categories. And I know I haven’t had an outstanding year, but I’m so like, it’s my daughter, and I love looking at that same Spotify and in any other application you can think of I think there’s going to be a yearly wrap up, I think that’s going to be the trend. People want to know, hey, for example, did I listen to a lot of audio content, hey, you’re on this many virtual calls maybe. And then you’ve been at a lot of noisy environments, brackets, cafes, restaurants, here’s your breakdown there. And here are some maybe applications that you use in America, I think our customers would really love seeing that. And then that just motivates them more to change their behavior. If it builds this beautiful baseline that they can see in a neat format and go, Hey, I know how I can get better and better in the long run.

Andy Bellavia 12:25
I love that because now you can also imagine your hearing care provider taking that data and say, Okay, you do a lot of podcasts listening, how is the listening experience for you and address that part of their lifestyle, and try and make it as good as possible? Okay, you spend a lot of time on Zoom calls. Well, that’s what you’re signed up for zoom calls. All right, let’s see if we can improve your auditory experience during zoom calls. So not only not only the person wearing the device, but the hearing care professional can address a person’s lifestyle based on what their year in review is recording them as having done. And it is actually in Spotify kind of triggered another thought too. And that’s what’s happening in the music world. You know, all the music streaming services are going to high def audio, or and high res audio and well, high res audio more or less relies on you having pretty good hearing. And if you look at just the averages for hearing, our age related hearing loss, even even a person in their 40s may not have clinical hearing loss, because in the auditory part of the spectrum, they’re still maybe only 10 db down. But the treble is really going. And so they’re losing the high res experience unless you do hearing personalization. And that end of the industry is starting to come together, you see more earbuds doing hearing personalization, I think you’re going to start to see the tie in with high res audio. Because if I’m selling high res audio, I want to make sure people can hear it and appreciate the difference and be willing to pay for it. Well, the only way you can make that happen is through hearing personalise your hearing personalized earphones, or headphones. And so it’s another way to drive recognition of hearing and how by addressing your hearing, you’ll have a better listening experience. So all of these things coming together. I think when we have this conversation, you know, even a couple years from now, we’re gonna see a very changed environment from today.

Kat Penno 14:28
And I love that we’ll be able to do that in reflection when we sit in 2021. That blows my mind. So these are like nice little libraries and podcasts for our reflections. But yeah the high res is something we cannot discount. That’s going to be like next level with whoever can test in that higher frequency range with good quality results and accuracy. They’ll really have a unique market because you audiogram is great. It’s a useful tool. But it is, like you said, also quite limiting that you can show someone in their 40s having what we deem normal hearing. But in the extended high frequency range, a hearing loss, which is actually affecting their overall quality of life.

Dave Kemp 15:15
You said something to at the beginning of the conversation, Andy that I thought is worth circling back on, which is, you know, kind of like, what the OTC regulations will usher in, more broadly speaking from a global standpoint, because, yes, it is a very US centric, you know, piece of legislation, obviously, but I fully agree. And so I think what’s interesting here is to think about, you know, I often think about, you know, some of these parts of the world that, you know, whether it’s Africa, India, China, where, you know, you kind of look like at a really high level, you know, in a way, some of these parts of the world actually have an advantage over some of these, like more historical, quote, unquote, first world countries in the sense that, you know, America, for example, is kind of mired in all of our legacy infrastructure. And so it’s really hard for us to like go and just completely overhaul everything. And so you look at places like China, and they have like, it’s basically what a city looks like, or a country looks like full of cities, with technology and the state of architecture being more like in the 1970s, and on. And so they’ve kind of leapfrog in a sense. And you can kind of see this happening with mobile banking, in you know, sub Sahara Africa, where they don’t have a lot of like, the legacy banking infrastructure. And so they were able to just kind of like leapfrog right into this. And I think that what’s interesting with like, taking that particular theme and applying it to hearing healthcare, well, what’s really exciting is that when you have parts of the world where there’s, you know, a million people to one hearing care provider, like, clearly, you need some alternative way to treat all of these different people. And so you know, where we are today, heading into 2022, you have, you know, you basically have a combination of ubiquitous smartphones. And that’s just increasing parts like India, again, Sub Saharan Africa, that you have this, like, just hockey stick of penetration of these different wireless devices that, you know, will basically be the device that’s tethered to these types of, you know, hearing care devices that will be much, much more affordable. And so I think, like, you know, you look at like, what hearX is doing, for example, and this idea of having, you know, again, it’s like, it’s De Wet Swanepoel, who’s like an audiologist, and he’s a really, really well respected audiologist, who’s leading the charge with this. And he so so you know, that it’s, it’s actual science that this thing is rooted in, but it’s a self fit device that caters to these parts of the world, that are just now kind of coming online and even made possible to have these things. And so there, I could see there being a scenario where, where I was getting at with that original point was like, there’s no real like, status quo that exists. So you could see there being a massive amount of adoption, if the, if the circumstances are right, to where you have a lot of really good low cost devices that are self programmable, and self fit. And then you think about like, there’s going to be so many advantages to that from a global standpoint of not only are you treating all those people, you’re actually also going to be able to pool a whole lot more data. And the data is going to tell a really interesting story to where you can see like, I think much more specifically, what’s going on with our global health population in terms of hearing loss, and then some of the comorbidities associated with it. I think it’s just going to be a huge boon. I think, again, going what you were saying at the beginning is like, I think that OTC is going to be important in the US, but I agree with you that what it’s emblematic of is, I think, a much bigger deal for the rest of the world.

Andy Bellavia 19:08
Absolutely, in fact, the tech develop for OTC is going to have strong and positive global implications. And I look at it this way. If you’re in a developing country, you don’t have access to an audiologist, even a 70 or 80% solution is better than a 0% solution. Right. Okay, so you don’t go to an audiologist and you don’t get a real ear measurement, then you know, you don’t you don’t make three trips and get it tuned. Just so, and have it just perfect, right. And 80% solution is still way better. And even in developed countries, I think the evolution towards a hybrid model achieves the same thing. Let’s say I’m a rural person, and maybe I’m disabled, or it’s difficult for me to travel the 50 miles to my audiologist. If I get set up with a hybrid solution like say what GN is going to do at Lively. Where do you have both, you know, remote where you have self fitting with a professional care option, or what’s happening with HelloGo and Sonova in Australia, right? So I can get a hellogo device, if I’m in Australia and I can still fit it, I can press the button, hook up with a hearing care professional and get a fine tuned later on. So I might start with an 80% solution, and it does a lot of good. And then when I’m able to get to the audiologist, I can have it tweaked. So regardless of where you are, you’re going to get better hearing care. And I think OTC is partly driving that directly by the device development, and indirectly, and in a way, it’s starting to influence the way people look at hearing care delivery overall. And of course, Kat you are way ahead of the game there with Hearing Collective. So I’d like to hear what you have to think what you have to say about all that. I was

Kat Penno 20:55
just gonna say actually hit the nail on the head there. First of all, a legacy, what we have always done what we always do. And I know that in the way we all live in Australia, in the US, it’s actually quite hard to change that behavior. Mom says just go to the doctor. And they’ll sort that out and give you the referral to here and there. That’s sort of ingrained that is ingrained from a very young age. So I think about what you were saying, saying, Dave, and it’s actually really exciting. And you’re right, Dave, and Andy, that is a 70, or 80% solution better than nothing. And I agree with that. And I actually think that statement is quite applicable to a lot of our consumers in the Australian the US, the UK, New Zealand market. Because a lot of a lot of people. What I think this way is, if someone comes to me, and I’ve got a moderate hearing loss, and they say they want a device like a hearable, I talk through expectations, and I give them my professional recommendation. And then they have this hesitancy towards the professional recommendation. And I say, Well, when I check in with them two weeks later, I say What have you decided to do about it? And they say nothing. And I’ve been talking to this other colleague, Sophie Brice, she’s quite ahead of her time as well. She worked with Elaine Saunders, when Blamey Saunders was originally set up. And I talk what we talked about these theories, because of doing a bit of research later this year, next year. Where I think is is a solution better than no solution. So if someone comes to you with a mild hearing loss, and then you say are you hearing loss is only mild. And you don’t give them a solution, even though it might just be situational within and there. What are the long term impacts of that behavior, you’re actually embedding into your client. And if hearables and OTCs can fit into them, then the hearing difficulties mild moderate hearing category, is it not a disservice that you don’t encourage them strongly to use it, use it there. And I think there was a famous study done by Ron Lieberman and Kang in 87, where they, they follow, they put a cat in a soundproof proof room. And they essentially showed that it had I’m really bad at quoting, recording because I’ve read so much recently and haven’t gone back and consolidated but what they essentially showed me this cat was that the auditory auditory pathways had read maps because they weren’t stimulating their peripheral senses. And one of those was hearing. So my theory when I was talking to Sophina lane, as well as that, I think the opportunity with hearables devices, let’s say they become device agnostic, is how do you change that person’s behavior to be proactive sooner, because we know the implications of untreated hearing loss. And Peter Blamey himself did a lot of research in the implant space where they they tracked when he he re-did a study in 2012, I think it was and they followed individuals who had moderate sloping to profound hearing losses and how their cognition worked. Then thereafter and those who didn’t have implants and who the theory followed strong as well, that if you don’t use those auditory pathways, the executive functions of your brain rate maps, and you behave differently, how it’s expressed is differently and all this so the opportunities in St. insanely large for us to be be at the forefront of everybody’s healthcare mind. And this is why I love partnerships like Skullcandy and Mimi technology, because it’s their target market, our young adults 20 year olds below, and they’re doing stuff with voice tech as well. It’s just the world’s a crazy place for hearing healthcare at the moment. excitingly crazy for me. Yeah,

Dave Kemp 24:55
I couldn’t agree more. Well, what’s fascinating so this is actually the second conversation I’ve had In a row where I’ve referenced this, because the last time I just had this was on future when I was interviewing Jill Davis, about Cognivue. And she said, the big lightbulb moment she had with, you know, basically the link between cognition and hearing was very similar to yours. I don’t remember who the I don’t remember who the research audiologist was that she was sitting in a presentation. But the big connection I had when she was describing it was when I interviewed David Eagleman and with David Eagleman, his book Livewired. That’s the whole premise of the book is that, you know, you

Andy Bellavia 25:37
Poppd into my head right away when she started talking. Yeah, it’s like so

Dave Kemp 25:41
you have, you know, your brain, the neuroplasticity of it, it’s constantly rewiring itself. So that makes so much sense to me. And it’s like you now this is probably more pronounced than ever now with masks, because you’re removing the the ability for people to read lips. And so what’s happening is you literally have, like you said, the executive functions of the brain, the brain, you have portions of the brain that are actually now taking these tasks over from the auditory processing pathways. And so, again, it speaks to this theme that like, there’s so much more going on here than like simply turning the volume knob down on some of these ears. It’s much more closely linked to what’s actually happening inside of your brain. And again, we’re talking about what’s the role the audiologist in the future, that those are, you know, that’s another path that you can totally go down is helping people to understand what’s happening more holistically here, rather than just limited to Well, looks like you can’t really, you know, your audiogram shows me this. So that’s a really interesting track here that I just want to touch on. Because, again, two times in a row I’ve gotten to talk about David Eagleman’s awesome book that I got to interview him about.

Kat Penno 26:58
Livewire, okay, I’ll have to read that.

Andy Bellavia 27:01
Yeah, it’s it’s on one of the shelves behind my head

Kat Penno 27:05
excellent recommendation, I’ll get a copy thank you

Dave Kemp 27:08
Livewired. It’s very good. So anyway, I figure you know, as we kind of wrap up here, it’s just always exciting, talking with you too, because I think that all three of us are pretty optimistic about the way in which the space is moving, I see they’re just being it’s, it’s a win, win win. Like, I think that at the end of the day, the consumer, the patient, they’re going to really win out, I really feel strongly about that, I think the professional has a gigantic opportunity ahead of them, or actually a multitude of opportunities in lots of different like sub paths that you can go down and specialize in. And then I think that a lot of these companies have a lot of opportunity to I mean, again, like Nuheara is a great example of, you know, Nuheara has been here, basically, as long as I’ve known you, too, which is feels like five years now. And, you know, it’s like what’s so exciting about them, and I feel like they’re such a good representation of the hearable space and why I always have taken it so serious is look at the first iteration. And look at the second iteration of the IQ buds, then look at the third and look at I think they’re on like the fourth now. And it’s just gotten like light years better every single year. And this is a lot of what Andy and I have talked about from the start, which is like, well, what’s driving that innovation, a lot of it’s driving, a lot of it’s being driven by what’s happening inside of the device, you know, the chip development, the move toward these digital signal processing chips, and how much better they’ve gotten. Now we’re at this stage where you have like these crazy new combinations of technology where you have, you know, we’ve talked about a bunch on here before but the, you know, Andy with your company with the Knowles AI Sonic chip, and how that now plays home to something like Giles from Chatable, his, you know, his like aI processor. And so you have like this device that that now has like this computational ability to run these like speech in like, like real time processing of speech so that you can start to solve things like speech and noise. And so it’s like, the, I just feel like we’re at this point where it’s like a runaway train of technology and it’s in, it’s like that is it’s left the barn. And it’s a matter of now like, how do we take advantage of this, like runaway acceleration of of this innovation? That is 100%, ushering in a dizzying amount of change. But I think that like it can be harnessed in such a way where, again, whether it’s the patients, the consumer, or the the patients, the provider, or the companies that reside behind these offerings. I think everybody there’s just a ton of opportunity to go around. Yeah, I’m

Kat Penno 29:58
David, Andy, It’s just been a really insightful discussion again today, I got goosebumps a lot of the time we the way we all think of the future and envision it. It’s quite a win win for everybody involved. I just, I’m such a big advocate for proactive health care. I come from a long in the legacy my family’s healthcare. And I really, and I’ve worked in an array of places private clinic, not for profits, aged care homes, disability sector as well. And I think something I think about often in hearing health is that I used to think that I’d be able to shift the needle in regards to adoption rate of hearing technology earlier. But now that I’m getting deeper and deeper into the space, I’m understanding that this is this would probably be my career, which is awesome, it totally excites me. And I think everything we’ve discussed today from the channel, how consumers or patients access hearing, healthcare, the service model, where it’s going to be all clinician led, or client led, and the technology that’s out there, I think that’s a really good framework to be thinking about how you as a professional fit into it, or you as a hearing aid manufacturer fit into a US consumer fits into it. Because if you take that framework away, you can pretty much get access to some level of care or service that you will need. And for me, when people come to me in their their early 40s, or 50s, and they want to do something about it, or I can impart some knowledge translation from a healthcare perspective, and they take my recommendations on board and implement these earlier behavior changes. That that is really promising to me and really exciting. Some really hopeful for the future. You know, things don’t happen overnight, but in the same regard. Who knows? Like will it be one of those big consumer electronic brands that just comes in and really tips that scale in regards to having hearing health adoption? Scale exponentially? Andy?

Andy Bellavia 32:07
Yeah, I think a couple of months ago, I did a panel for the future source audio Collaborative on convergence, hearing convergence. And at the beginning of it Unders Jessen of WSA did a terrific talk. And I really recommend going to the future source website and playing it back. Because he talked about the evolution of WSAs thinking in terms of OTC, you know, and how everybody was resistant at first. But then he said, we began to realize that this was the way to address the mild to mid market, which is the lion’s share of people with hearing health. And he actually said, it’s not like we haven’t been trying for the last 40 years, you know, acknowledging the fact that the legacy model was not working for those people. And that, in fact, when you bring people into the Hearing Care System earlier, then they lead a better lifestyle and in in carry on at whatever stage they end up in their journey as they grow older. And I think, you know, he said that it’s not like we haven’t been trying to, you know, serve these people for the last 40 years, I think 10 years from now, that’s going to be a completely different conversation. Everything coming together. Finally, finally is going to crack that knot. And I think on the consumer side, too, as you see the consumers companies coming in, they’re going to change people’s attitudes about hearing, just like you said, Kat, I mean, what kind of shoes do you put on? Right? When I go out there and do a long training run, I’ve got trainers that keep my you know, aging knees, you know, alive. You know, when I go to the starting line, I put the racing flats on, right and well for people at all stages a hearing loss, there’s going to be a device and a care model for them all up and down the ladder. And it is very exciting as a consequence, where the global pandemic of untreated hearing loss is finally going to get treated.

Dave Kemp 34:03
Well said, well said. Well, thank you two very much for joining me here. Thanks for everybody who tuned in here to the end and we will chat with you next time.


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About the Panel

Kat Penno is the Director of Hearing Health at Nuheara. Prior to joining Nuheara, Penno was the president and founder of The Hearing Collective, which provides hearing consultations for businesses. She holds a Master of Clinical audiology from the University of Western Australia, where she is currently a guest lecturer.


Andrew Bellavia is the Dir. of Market Development for Knowles Corp, a leading acoustic solutions provider to the hearables, smart speaker, mobile, and IoT industries. He has been personally involved in supporting the development of many innovative hearable devices since the beginning with pioneers like Bragi and Nuheara. Andrew is also an advocate for the role technology can play in addressing hearing loss, and in the practical use cases for voice in the coming hearables revolution. When not in the office he can usually be found running the roads of N. Illinois, and until recently, the world, often photographing as he goes.


Dave Kemp is the Director of Business Development & Marketing at Oaktree Products and the Founder & Editor of Future Ear. In 2017, Dave launched his blog,, where he writes about what’s happening at the intersection of voice technology, wearables and hearing healthcare. In 2019, Dave started the Future Ear Radio podcast, where he and his guests discuss emerging technology pertaining to hearing aids and consumer hearables. He has been published in the Harvard Business Review, co-authored the book, “Voice Technology in Healthcare,” writes frequently for the prominent voice technology website,, and has been featured on NPR’s Marketplace.


About HHTM

HHTM's mission is to bridge the knowledge gaps in treating hearing loss by providing timely information and lively insights to anyone who cares about hearing loss. Our contributors and readers are drawn from many sectors of the hearing field, including practitioners, researchers, manufacturers, educators, and, importantly, consumers with hearing loss and those who love them.

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