I think first and foremost, being able to adjust the HAs to your liking to me is the most important factor in HA satisfaction. I remember that even with the OPN touting a single program need only and supposedly very simple programming, just answer 5 personal preference questions up front and voila, you get your single program that works for most listening situations, I still had to go through half a dozen fittings with my local audi to adjust this and that until I was satisfied with it. I think the role of the audi is important here only because the system sets it up for them to be the gate keeper of the programming. But this places too much dependency on them and is ultimately not conducive to the satisfaction of the customer. Yes, the audi/HIS still needs to play an important role as a primary consultant in the process, but educating the patient and letting the patient participate in the process themselves would make a lot of patient being more satisfied. There are just so many unnecessary hassles in trying to get appointments and visiting the audi/HIS repeatedly that could have been eliminated if the patient can do the fine tuning and adjustment at the comfort of their own home. And the technology is already there to do this. The system just needs to realize the value of this and allow this model to happen. If I could find an HA mfg that offers this type of DIY adjustment model, I would be very inclined to go with this mfg because this would be a very high criteria on my list. Many people are already doing DIY on their own because they see the value of this, why hasn't the industry woken up and realized the potential for increasing customer satisfaction if they offer this?
In my personal experience with the OPN, and also with my previous pair of CIC HAs from Rexton (bought at Costco), I wouldn't say that my satisfaction was because I had a great audi/HIS who knew how to set things up for me. Don't get me wrong, they were competent and knew what they were doing. But they could not hear and experience what I hear through the HAs. But they were cooperative enough to work with me collaboratively to fine tune things enough to my liking. But again, if I could have made the adjustment myself, it would have been SO MUCH more efficient because I could have tried out 10x more scenarios with the settings than I would have been able to do working together with them.
Another important factor toward HA satisfaction is the ability to do everything with your HA, but yet still being able to keep things simple. I find the HA market rife with so much trade-offs and limitations and this and that, that it's just so hard for users to keep up with things and being able to simply just USE the HA without becoming subject matter experts on it. For example, in my previous Rexton HAs, I just couldn't wear it to play tennis because it does so much dynamic compression when the ball bounces that it makes a weird muted poof every time the ball bounce either on the ground or off the racket. So I had to revert to a very old digital pair of CIC HAs that had no compression or noise reduction when I play tennis. Then I need to remember all the different modes for my previous 2 HAs pairs, which is noise, which is music, which is phone modes, etc. Then I have to remember to select the right mode when I'm in the right environment, etc.
Don't get me wrong, I don't advocate for simple HAs. I advocate for HAs that provides simplicity for users, even if it has to be incredibly complicated or sophisticated, as long as it's all hidden behind the scene from the user. And I think I finally found that with the Oticon OPN. With the OPN I no longer have to remember which listening environment I'm in to switch to the right program every time. I know many of the other HA brands are doing that now as well, with auto-sensing to figure out which listening environment the wearer is in and switch to the right program. But I like the OPN's simplicity better because I think it took the right approach in putting the burden on the brain to do a lot of these sophisticated processing and tuning, which it should be perfectly capable of doing, and it's also the right place to do it because it eliminates all the guess work that the HAs would otherwise have to do to figure out what the wearer wants. With the OPN, second-guessing what the wearer really wants to hear (which is probably the hardest thing to do since nobody can read other people's mind, let alone a machine) is entirely eliminated because that heaviest burden is now put back into the natural place where it belongs, the user's brain. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't let the OPN off the hook to become a very simple HA design because of this. Instead, it frees up the OPN to focus on how it can add values in different ways, like how it can help with speech clarity in a different way that has not been done before.
I think simplicity in connectivity is also another important aspect of HA satisfaction. It's too bad that the new BLE standard is so recent and not adopted and implemented in Android phones yet. But at least made-for-iPhone HAs are starting to lead the way in this regard with direct streaming. Hopefully in a few more years we'll get there and by then, I think the popularity of HA will soar simply because people won't just think of HAs as a medical device anymore, but as a wearable device technology that provides seamless connectivity, with the benefit of customizing for hearing loss on top. I think there's a large population with mild to moderate hearing loss that would be willing to wear HAs sooner rather than later if it provides them with the connectivity value proposition, especially if those people are connected all day long at work to conference calls and multi media.
Last edited by Volusiano; 02-24-2017 at 01:29 PM.
HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)
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