Hearing industry veteran Andrew Hebert is the COO of Eversound Technology and he joins This Week in Hearing for an interview. During this conversation Andrew shares how Eversound is trying to bring better hearing to an under-served segment of the population: older adults living in residential and assisted living communities.
Andrew discusses the community burden of untreated hearing loss and how Eversound is addressing this need through a subscription-based amplified headset program and through the provision of hearing aids.
Brian Taylor 0:10
Hi, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of This Week in Hearing, I’m Brian Taylor. And today’s topic is improving the quality of life of at risk seniors. And joining us today to discuss this topic is Andrew Hebert, who is the chief operating officer of a new company out there called ever sound technology. Andrew is a longtime veteran of the hearing industry, I think a lot of you are probably familiar with his name. And I’m happy that he’s able to join us on this week in hearing to talk about his new company. Welcome, Andrew.
Andrew Hebert 0:44
Thanks for I really appreciate you having me on.
Brian Taylor 0:46
Well, like I said in this in my brief introduction, you are a veteran of the hearing care industry. So maybe you can kind of refresh us on your background.
Andrew Hebert 0:56
Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, I’m going on 15 years in hearing healthcare. Now. I started with EarQ back in 2008, was one of the original employees there. At EarQ, we were providing business and marketing solutions for independent hearing healthcare practices. So I literally traveled all over the country met with hundreds of clinics, everything from local audiology clinics to universities, talk to them about how they were getting new patients into their practice and met, you know, solutions that EarQ is offering with some of their challenges. So I was super fortunate there. Ed Keller, the founder of EarQ gave me a lot of opportunities probably ahead of my time. Which, you know, I got to learn a lot over those years. And I really was fortunate to grow while the company grew. So I left EarQ as the president. So that’s from you know, corporate side of things, philanthropically. I helped start the HearStrong Foundation, which recognizes the challenges of and the accomplishments of people that have overcome hearing loss, tells their stories is really meant to empower others to take action and do something about their hearing healthcare. Currently, the chair of the board there. So that’s a lot of fun to work on. My wife actually works on that project with me as well. And we have a lot going on there. So I’m not an audiologist, I’m not a hearing healthcare provider. But I’m definitely pretty involved in in the industry.
Brian Taylor 2:33
Well you understand the industry, that’s for sure. And that experience, I would imagine is invaluable. With this new startup that you’re with Eversound Technology to have that right? It sounds I was on your website, it sounds like a really interesting company. So tell us a little bit more about ever sound.
Andrew Hebert 2:49
Yeah, ever sound. When I was when I was making the transition. And looking for a new company to work with, I really was looking for two things. One wanted to make sure I was going to join an organization that was helping people and to wanted to find an organization that aligned with my values. And, and I found that in Eversound. They are very values driven organization, dedication, teamwork, altruism, is lived and breathed every day throughout the company. So the back to the basics, though the company was founded back in 2015, by the CEO Jake Reisch. It was born out of the eCornell business accelerator program. So Jake, and two co founders, Matt Raniers, who’s in charge of sales in Devon Jamison helped to start the company, one of the things that they all had in common was was was that they had aging loved ones that were going through some significant cognitive decline as a result of hearing loss. One of the grandmothers was in a senior living community. So they started to that’s kind of what turned them on to the idea. So they started doing research, they ended up going to approximately 100 locations, senior living communities in central and upstate New York, and just researching what’s happening with regards to hearing loss in those communities, how’s it impacting the residents the day to day lives of the staff members as well. So the more they learned about it, they they said, hey, there is a real big problem here and they that inspired the group wireless listening system is the solution that they came up with originally.
Brian Taylor 4:39
Okay, so I just want to so it’s really not fair to say there was a startup companies since you’ve been around since 2015. I want to make sure I get that right. And Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, in the Finger Lakes region, so yep. That’s all really good to know. Tell us more about the devices that are available through Eversound
Andrew Hebert 5:00
Yeah, so the group wireless listening system, always good to explain that a little bit. You know, one of the big challenges in senior living is the majority of people have hearing loss. And, you know, as you know, the minority of people that have hearing loss are using hearing aids today. So you have a really big communication challenge there. The group wireless listening system is if you think about, you know, 10 headphones, that are all grouped together that link to one remote mic or transmitter that can broadcast sound out to the headphone system. So if an example is if 10 residents want to play bingo, it’s going to be a really challenging situation, because the majority of them can’t hear consistently the numbers that are being called. But if everybody wears the headphones, then the person calling the numbers can speak into the wireless microphone. And it can instantly amplify the sound out into the, to the residence so they can participate in the activity in the game. So it’s, I know that you have a lot of HCPs that are watching. It’s not the perfect audiological solution there. But it is a really good one. And it’s really important because we’re taking people out of their rooms where they might not participate in an activity because they can’t hear and interact with the group. And we’re empowering them to be able to actually participate in that group activity. Yeah.
Brian Taylor 6:32
Think of all the people in your life that need hearing aids that don’t have them people that are in different types of assisted living environments. This sounds like a great alternative to traditional hearing aids for those that for various reasons don’t wear them.
Andrew Hebert 6:51
Absolutely. Absolutely. And we are extending now. You know, we’re known within the communities that as a hearing solutions company, so we are expanding into providing hearing aids to the residents with onsite hearing care.
Brian Taylor 7:07
Yeah, so tell us a little bit more about that. I know one of the things that I noticed, I think it was on your website was it’s a subscription model. And I’m just curious how you see, ever sound, how it fits into the existing market for hearing devices?
Andrew Hebert 7:24
Yeah, so there’s got to kind of compartmentalize things. This subscription model is on the headphone system specifically. And so on the headphone business, the customer is the senior living community. So it’s the activity director who is actually subscribing to the eversound membership. And then the consumer is the resident of the senior living that’s actually using the headphone system. On the the hearing aid side now that we’re branching out into providing the onsite hearing healthcare, that relationship is between eversound and the the residents. So that’s a more traditional model where they actually purchased the hearing aids from us. We haven’t done this subscription model for the hearing aid specifically.
Brian Taylor 8:11
So you have a headphone the part of the business and then you have a hearing aid part of the business that sounds like yep. And how to hearing care professionals fit into this equation.
Andrew Hebert 8:21
Yeah, so we we employ hearing care professionals, we we go on site. And we provide facilitated telehealth care to the communities that we’re working with. It’s very similar to the VA model, where we have a trained professional that brings a group of equipment on site. And then we have a licensed hearing care professional that conducts the appointment via telehealth. We don’t skip any steps of the process, we use a video otoscope to allow the hearing healthcare provider to look into the patient’s ear. You know, we do a full hearing test, we do bone conduction. In the event that we fit hearing aids we do Real Ear measurement. So the our goal is to provide a level of hearing care consistent with what residents would get if they were to go to off site to a local audiology practice.
Brian Taylor 9:19
That’s really interesting. I also noticed on your website that you have a lot of really strong educational support for seniors. So can you tell us a little bit about what that involves?
Andrew Hebert 9:30
Yeah, absolutely. So the we want to be known as an extension of the community staff. Communities, staff are have a lot of challenges right now. They’re very busy, and we want to make our solutions as turnkey as possible for them. So with the content that we provide, it’s essentially things like games that the residents can play. It’s you know, musical per performances, it’s group exercise content. That’s all at the fingertips of the activity director. So there’s literally hundreds of activities that they can select from, and instantly be able to conduct a group activity with what we’re providing them. And of course, it works also in conjunction with the headphones that we are providing. So in some ways, it’s a little bit like the Peloton model, where we’re providing the hardware, which is the headphones. And we’re also providing the content, which is all the different activities that we have there.
Brian Taylor 10:31
Yeah, that’s really interesting. I also noticed that you had a really cool little tool on the website that allowed people to better understand how many people in their community might be affected by untreated hearing loss. I mean, to me, this is something that in a hearing care professional could go on there and kind of look at that. Tell us more about the tool I’m referring to?
Andrew Hebert 10:51
Yeah, so we think that hearing loss is a silent epidemic in senior living. In You know, I’m not going to tell you anything that you don’t already know, Brian, but it’s, it’s invisible, right? You know, so a lot of times, the more visible things that are going on within the community, and the residents are the things that are getting the attention. But just because it’s invisible, doesn’t mean it’s not important. And in what our effort was, in developing this tool, is we started compiling information, data research out there, you know, looking at things like the hearing journal, or JAMA, and finding out some powerful statistics. So, you know, we found that there’s a correlation of hearing loss and a five up to five times increased risk of dementia, up to three times increased risk of falls, and even, you know, up to 21%, increased likelihood of death. And these are really powerful, serious things that can happen as a result of not treating hearing loss and addressing some of the things that could be addressed. So we we compiled this information and put it in a way that would be easy for the the executive directors and the executive staff at these communities to understand. So that way they could, they could start addressing it. So we’ve gotten really good feedback from the tool as well, from the senior living communities, I think that it’s enlightening in a lot of ways. And yeah, it’s something that on ever sound hq.com Anybody can go on and take a look at it. And, and we’d be happy to answer any questions if people want to reach out about the tool.
Brian Taylor 12:36
Yeah, I mean, hats off to you and the team there, because I think that’s a really valuable tool, you kind of have tailored it, or people can tailor it to their community. You make it easy to do business, raising awareness using data. I think that’s all great stuff. That as you probably know, Andrew, we have a lot of people on our channel that are not hearing care professionals, that are consumers. So what are some things that you would want consumers to know about Eversound?
Andrew Hebert 13:04
Yeah, so if you are, if either for yourself or for a family member and loved one, you’re looking into senior living communities, ask them if they’re currently an Eversound community, and if they’re using Eversound, because, you know, it can really benefit you, your family member, and the others within the community and allow them to communicate more effectively with one another. And if if the community isn’t an Eversound member, they can always reach out to us via eversoundhq.com. And we’d love to get involved and help out, you know, our mission is to go out there and empower as many residents to senior living to participate in daily lives as as possible. So you know, we we’d be enthusiastic to help out there.
Brian Taylor 13:51
Yeah, when you think about all the people that live in those kinds of facilities that need help with their hearing, it’s a huge unmet need that we all they need to, to focus on. So we appreciate that you’re available and around as a company to help people out. So the last thing I wanted to ask you is our biggest audience, of course, are hearing care professionals. So how do they get more involved with Eversound? What do they need to know from you? What, how… What can they learn or where can they find more information about Eversound?
Andrew Hebert 14:25
Yeah, so we’re joining you in the battle against untreated hearing loss. And we’re really excited about it. If you’re looking to join a fun, altruistic company, that’s going to be helping 1000s of people throughout the US with their hearing health needs. You know, look out for us on things like audiology online, you can reach out to us again through eversoundhq.com. And, you know, we’d love to talk to you about what we’re up to and what we’re doing we’re going to be as we continue to build and scale We’re currently in 1200 locations throughout the US with our headphone model. And as we continue to build and scale the the Hearing Health Model, we’re going to need to hire quite a few hearing care providers. So look out for us. And don’t be shy to reach out.
Brian Taylor 15:16
Yeah, it sounds like you. You’re going to need some hearing care professionals to help you out.
Andrew Hebert 15:21
Brian Taylor 15:24
All right. Andrew, thank you so much for taking the time to be on This Week in Hearing. We really appreciate it. And, you know, maybe down the road in six months or a year, we can have you back on to see and talk about all your great success in this area.
Andrew Hebert 15:38
Absolutely. Thank you so much for having us on.
Brian Taylor 15:42
Yeah, my pleasure.
About the Panel
Andrew Hebert is the Chief Operating Officer for Eversound Techonlogy. Prior to joining Eversound in January 2021, he served as the President of the EarQ national network of independent hearing care providers.
Brian Taylor, AuD, is the senior director of audiology for Signia. He is also the editor of Audiology Practices, a quarterly journal of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology, editor-at-large for Hearing Health and Technology Matters and adjunct instructor at the University of Wisconsin.