Author Archives: Hildy Silverman

Initial thoughts on the Ponto 4 – Oticon Medical has done it again!

Sandi Arcus is a Dispensing Audiologist in Nevada. Born with single-sided deafness (SSD), she as always had a passion for helping others who are hard of hearing. She started her career in Pennsylvania as an audiologist in a busy ENT office, then in private practice. She currently works at an audiology clinic in Henderson, NV. Sandi holds a Master of Science degree in Audiology from Bloomsburg University, is a Fellow with the American Academy of Audiology, and holds a Certificate of Clinical Competency from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.

As both an expert in hearing health and someone with first-hand experience in hearing loss, Sandi kindly offered to share her initial thoughts (and a couple of homemade videos) from her trial of Oticon Medical’s Ponto 4 bone anchored hearing system (BAHS).

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I did the initial setup myself, because I’m really picky and odd about my programming. My first impression was that the Ponto 4 sounded the closest to my normal hearing ear as any other hearing aid or BAHS has come close to. I was impressed but not surprised — if Oticon Medical releases a new processor, I know it won’t be good… it will be great!

Streaming phone calls and music with ease

I placed a call while streaming to the Ponto 4 and the person on the receiving end was impressed with the clarity. On my side, I was able to hear the speaker without issues. Streaming music was pretty impressive as well. It wasn’t tinny or hollow-sounding.

Ponto 4 passes the wind and noise test

I like to “beat up” my processor — push it to the limits — so I next planned to be a passenger in my car (Ponto side toward driver) with the windows down and music on. I don’t typically have the windows down when driving because I can’t hear (and it messes up my hair) so I knew this would really allow me to test the Ponto 4 out.

 

These videos don’t quite do it justice. I had the air conditioning blasting and the radio on pretty loud. My daughter and husband said they couldn’t hear each other or me, but I heard them.

Kudos Oticon Medical — you did it again!

I could never have heard either my husband or daughter in that noisy car without the Ponto 4. Knowing how OPN™ technology works helped me figure out the biggest difference: I still knew the noise was there. It wasn’t distorted. There wasn’t a sudden mic change that was audible. However, my brain knew that speech was what I needed to hear. Speech stood out naturally without strain and without compromise.

My one word for Ponto 4? Awesome!

Click here to learn more about the Ponto 4 from Oticon Medical.

The Ponto Loaner Program: Bridging the gap, because sound matters

Early access to sound is the key to linguistic development

Children require a lot of things to acquire speech as they grow. Chief among these? Exposure to sound – specifically spoken language, as early access to sound promotes optimal speech and language learning. The best way to ensure they receive this access is by providing hard of hearing youngsters with premium hearing care as soon as possible.

The role of sound in childhood development

From infancy through early childhood, we pick up language through daily exposure to spoken words, eventually reaching the stage where we begin to speak and repeat those words. Research indicates that children need to hear and understand how words are used contextually — and hear themselves repeat those words — to achieve comprehension and the ability to use language clearly and accurately.[1]

Although sound enters through the ears, hearing occurs in the brain — particularly language processing. Physically, the growth of a child’s auditory brain center requires regular sound stimulation, without which they might never fully develop the ability to process and comprehend language. Kids whose hearing loss goes untreated will typically experience linguistic developmental delays and struggle to make themselves understood verbally throughout their lives.[2]

Difficulty hearing contributes to educational and social challenges

Unless they attend a school for the deaf and hard of hearing, children with unaided hearing loss will likely experience significant difficulties learning.[3] Mainstream schools require kids to listen to lessons in the classroom, directions during playground and sports activities, and engage verbally with teachers and classmates throughout the day. Those who cannot hear often fall behind their peers, especially if they are held back a grade. Combined with frustrations stemming from straining to hear and communicate daily, academic delays can lead to youngsters withdrawing, avoiding in-school socializing and extracurricular activities. Feelings of isolation and being overwhelmed academically could contribute to negative lifelong issues like loneliness, depression, and low self-esteem.[4]

Aiding children who have conductive hearing loss

While traditional hearing aids can help many children, some kids require greater assistance – a bone anchored hearing system (BAHS) – because they are missing all or some of the organs required for natural hearing (i.e., conductive hearing loss). This presents parents with an additional challenge, as children typically must reach the age of five before they can receive an implant, plus many parents need insurance coverage to afford them. Since we develop many of our fundamental language skills before five, this creates a treatment gap that could permanently affect linguistic development.

Fortunately, BAHS can be used to help children even before implantation. Babies and toddlers can wear the devices with a softband, which is basically a head band that holds the BAHS processor against their skull without surgery. While skin contact doesn’t provide the same level of amplification as when the processor is affixed to an abutment, a child will still receive significant developmental benefits, such as early acquisition of the building blocks of language and the ability to participate more easily in the world around them.

However, the question of affording the processors remains, as insurers often take some time to approve coverage of these necessary devices.

What to do while waiting for insurance coverage

You might find yourself frustrated while waiting for your insurer to approve your child’s BAHS, especially after being told all the benefits of early-as-possible treatment. Fortunately, Oticon Medical offers an option while you’re awaiting insurance approval, so you can get your child the hearing device they need now: the Ponto™ Loaner Program. This program is designed to help your child receive the premium hearing care they need to thrive without delay.

The program provides Ponto sound processors and softbands for children from birth to five years of age who require direct amplification to hear speech and sounds. Your child will benefit by being given the ability to hear sounds during their critical early years, enabling them to participate actively in the world around them while you’re awaiting third-party reimbursement approval.

For details on how to enroll in the loaner program, please speak to your audiologist or feel free to contact us.

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Gabrielle Simone is a Clinical Territory Manager in New England with Oticon Medical. She has worked in private practice and hospital settings and has a specialization in clinical application for hearing aids and cochlear implants.  For the past 6 years, Gabrielle has worked as a Training and Education Specialist for the Northeast and Western New York region, for Widex and Oticon. In this role, she provided technical, clinical, and product support to audiologists and hearing instrument specialists (HIS). She also served as an adjunct professor at Northeastern University in the AuD program. An alumna of Emerson College, she earned her M.S. in Audiology from the University of Connecticut and her Doctor of Audiology from the University of Florida. In her current position with Oticon Medical, she provides clinical, technical and sales support to physicians, audiologists, and hospital personnel.

[1]  Committee on the Science of Children Birth to Age 8: Deepening and Broadening the Foundation for Success; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Institute of Medicine; National Research Council; Allen LR, Kelly BB, editors. Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2015 Jul 23. 4, Child Development and Early Learning. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310550/

[2] Early Intervention and Language Development in Children Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing Mary Pat Moeller Pediatrics Sep 2000, 106 (3) e43; DOI: 10.1542/peds.106.3.e43

[3] Vogel, S. & Schwabe, L. (2016). Learning and memory under stress: implications for the classroom. npj Science of Learning 1, Article number: 16011

[4] Theunissen SC, Rieffe C, Netten AP, et al. Self-esteem in hearing-impaired children: the influence of communication, education, and audiological characteristics. PLoS One. 2014;9(4):e94521. Published 2014 Apr 10. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094521

Meet Your Friends at Oticon Medical: Part 3

Get to know your friends in the US Customer Service department

Welcome to Part 3 of our new blog series, Meet Your Oticon Medical Friends! In this first set of posts, we’ve asked the members of our US Customer Service Team to tell you a bit about themselves. Get to know the caring people who take your calls, place orders, solve problems, answer your questions, and much more.

In case you missed them, here are the links to Part 1 and Part 2.

Meet Michael

I have worked at Oticon for six years, the last ten months in customer service. I enjoy interacting with customers, getting to know them a little, and being able to help them solve their problems

Service representatives on phone

One of my favorite stories about helping out a caller involved a person who was having a hard time in her daily life. She was a nurse struggling to pair her Ponto processor with the Streamer. She started out the call really upset, so I kept my voice calm and guided her through it. Toward the end of the call, she explained that she’d had a tough day at work, and we started chatting casually because she felt so much better. By staying calm and helping her resolve her issue, I’d made her day better.

After a busy day at work, I like to go home and watch something funny on television. One of my favorite shows is The Goldbergs – also Blackish and Man of the House. As for films, my favorite all-time movie is Top Gun, and I also like Angels and Demons, the sequel to the Da Vinci Code.

I have a pet cat, a Tabby named Mona. She’s only a year old. She lived in the backyard of one of my bother-in-law’s house, and sadly, she was part of a feral cat litter that lost its mother. The kittens were all adopted out, and I took Mona. Now she is extremely spoiled! She likes to jump on me while I’m exercising at home.

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Do you need assistance with your or a family member’s Ponto bone anchored hearing system? Click the button to contact Oticon Medical — we are here to help!

Contact Us

Meet Your Friends at Oticon Medical: Part 2

Get to know your friends in the US Customer Service department

Welcome to Part 2 of our new blog series, Meet Your Oticon Medical Friends! In this first set of posts, we’ve asked the members of our US Customer Service Team to tell you a bit about themselves. Get to know the caring people who take your calls, place orders, solve problems, answer your questions, and much more.

Meet Donna

I have been with Oticon Medical for four years, and I’ve worked in customer service for most of my career. The part of the job I enjoy most is being able to assist our customers and patients with any questions or concerns they may have. I find it rewarding to help patients with service orders as well.

Before I came to Oticon Medical, I worked for a family-owned import company that manufactured candle gifts and accessories. I was there almost nine years before the company closed. We had a booth at the New York Javits Center for several years, which was a lot of fun!

I also lived in Lynn Haven, Florida for a time, which was maybe five miles to Panama City Beach. It was so beautiful! The sand was so white and it felt like I was walking on flour because it was so soft.

Nowadays, after a busy day at work, I like to unwind by meeting up with friends for dinner or just going home and watching television. My favorite movie is The Sound of Music.

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Do you need assistance with your or a family member’s Ponto bone anchored hearing system? Click the button to contact Oticon Medical — we are here to help!

Contact Us

Meet your friends at Oticon Medical

Get to know your friends in the US Customer Service department

Welcome to Part 1 of our new blog series, Meet Your Oticon Medical Friends! In this first set of posts, we’ve asked the members of our US Customer Service Team to tell you a bit about themselves. Get to know the caring people who take your calls, place orders, solve problems, answer your questions, and much more.

Meet Beverly

My name is Beverly, and I have worked at Oticon Medical for almost 9 years. I’ve worked in Customer Service and Operations Management since 1984.

Before Oticon Medical, I worked 30 years in the steel industry in the Midwest as a Customer Service Manager. During my early years in this industry it was considered very unusual for a women to be in management. It was a very male-dominated industry back then, dealing directly with the automotive industry (a tough group of customers). It was quite an education.

When I moved back home to New Jersey to be near my family, I decided that my next job would be in an industry that sells a product that benefits people. Oticon Medical was a perfect fit for me. I really enjoy hearing our patients talk about how much our product has changed their lives.  Working in customer service at Oticon Medical is a pleasure. We have a great product and we all work very hard to make sure our patients and customers are happy with our service.

Here is one of my favorite on-the-job stories: I had a mom call on a Friday crying hysterically because her son lost his processor and they were literally leaving for vacation the next day. She was actually having a hard time breathing because she was so upset. Her husband was very angry with her because for some reason he was blaming her. I asked her what time her flight was and then told her we could have his replacement there by 8:00 am on Saturday morning.  He would have to wear it without it being programmed to his settings but it was better than nothing. She asked me how much it would cost and I said, “Nothing,” because it was covered under warranty.  She cried even harder, but happy tears this time.

My personal experience with hearing loss involves my sister-in-law. She saw an ENT a few years ago because my brother got tired of hearing her say, “What?” Ended up that she needed a hearing aid, which we purchased from Oticon Inc. as part of the employee purchase program.  She loves it and so does my brother!

Louie and Gracie

One of my favorite ways to unwind if I have a particularly stressful or busy day is to take a last-minute ride to the Jersey Shore to have dinner with family. I also enjoy spending time with my two dogs, Louie (a Shih-Tzu/Maltese) and Gracie (a Maltese/Yorkshire Terrier). I’ve had them since they were six weeks old — they are ten now.

I’ve lived in quite a few places in my career, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, and Toronto. Prior to Oticon Medical, I moved around quite a bit as part of my job but I’m happy to finally be home in New Jersey!

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Do you need assistance with your or a family member’s Ponto bone anchored hearing system? Click the button to contact Oticon Medical — we are here to help!

Contact Us

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_5

Part 5 of 5

In Part 4 of this series, I provided tips on how to put the “social” in your social media. In this edition, the conclusion, I’ll talk about how to analyze your performance and adjust if you find you’re off-track in reaching your goals.

Analyze and adapt

All social media platforms offer statistics you can use to track the performance of each post you’re making. You’ll want to keep an eye on Engagement in particular – the number of Likes/Shares/Comments on Facebook and LinkedIn, retweets and comments on Twitter, and “regrams” and comments on Instagram. By reviewing and tracking this data you can make informed content strategy decisions based on which items performed well or not. Expect that you’ll have to periodically tweak your topics, balance of post types, post release times, and more over time as audience makeup and preferences change.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on your Reach to make sure your audience is even seeing your posts. This is especially true now that Facebook has made it all but impossible to reach your entire (or even the majority of) your Fans/Followers list without paying to boost a post. You might need to strategize and decide which posts you should boost and how much money you can afford to put behind these to reach as many people as possible. Obviously, anything boosted should include a clear call to action in support of your goal.

Nothing succeeds like success

Ultimately, you will know your online strategy is working if you attain that defined and measurable goal you set. Whether it’s an increase in donations or number of event attendees, gaining more advocates for your cause or influencing legislation, skillful utilization of social media can go a long way toward helping advocates like you achieve your goals.

Do you or a loved one need your hearing tested? Find a clinic near you now!

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_4

Part 4 of 5

In Part 3 of this series, I provided suggestions on how to choose the right social media channels to maximize your digital reach. This week, in Part 4, I offer tips on how to put the “social” in your social media.

Sharing is caring

The point of social media is interaction. You want to draw visitors to your content, engage with it (and you), and ideally take an action that supports your established goal. The best way to do this is make sure whatever you share is interesting and relevant to your target audience and includes an engaging visual element (photo, .gif, or video).

Regularity is also key, so make sure you establish a content release schedule you can manage consistently. This rewards audience loyalty to your properties, which in turn allows you compete against all the other social outlets vying for their attention. Examples of good schedules include one post on Facebook or three-five daily tweets on Twitter per day. Remember, you can utilize a content management platform like HootSuite to schedule posts/tweets in advance so that you aren’t overwhelmed by a frequent need to post. Even without one of these platforms, you can schedule ahead on Facebook from the platform itself.

Don’t forget the hashtags

Make sure you learn how to use hashtags on all your platforms – they’re not just for Twitter anymore! “Ride” popular hashtags related to your cause so that more of your potential audience can discover your content. Using single-sided deafness (SSD) as our model cause again, you could include #deaf, #hearingloss, or #hoh regularly with your posts, which makes them show up when someone performs one of these common searches for content. Additionally, if you see a hashtag is trending that relates to your cause (e.g., #WorldHearingDay) you could include it in a post linking SSD to the importance of getting your hearing checked. Just make sure you don’t go crazy with the hashtags – using too many in relation to the amount of content provided in a post has been shown to reduce engagement.

One more post to go in this series! In my next post, I’ll provide an overview on how to analyze the results of your online efforts and tweak them to achieve your goals.

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_3

Part 3 of 5

In Part 2 of this series launched last week, I provided suggestions on how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals for your online activities. This week, in Part 3, I’m going to take you through how to choose the right social media channels to maximize your digital reach.

Choose the right channels

I recommend setting up a “home base” online first — a website if you have a larger organization with multiple goals or a blog page if your organization is small or a solo effort. WordPress and Wix are two examples of free, user-friendly site builders available to help you establish a basic web presence. Your site or blog will provide a source of regular content to share through your social media properties. It will also give you a central location to which you can drive online visitors and get them to take an action (e.g., donate, learn more, sign up for emails and events, etc.), which you will need for tracking purposes.

Research your target audiences and where they tend to gather online to assess which social media platforms will best support your efforts. Focus on developing one or two properties first. Most activists and advocates start with Facebook and Twitter, but platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat can be quite effective as well.

A YouTube channel is a powerful tool, as videos increase engagement with social posts. They can be shared from your channel by friend, fans, and followers through every social media platform, and are the content likeliest to go viral. However, you (or someone in your organization) obviously needs the expertise and time to create them.

LinkedIn tends to draw a more career-focused, professional audience, which may or may not suit your goals. Reddit gets tremendous traffic, but many find it complicated, riddled with trolls, and too much of an attention drain to manage. Tumblr is popular, especially with younger audiences (tweens, teens, and 20-somethings primarily) — depending on your goal, that audience might be worth your effort to cultivate but go in knowing that it is a constantly updating outlet. Plus, you’ll be competing with extremely active fandoms and similar lighthearted content for attention.

Managing multiple social properties

If you do reach a point where you want to utilize multiple platforms, it’s a good idea to learn a social media management tool (a couple tried-and-true options offering free basic versions include HootSuite and TweetDeck). These allow you to schedule multiple posts across platforms even in advance, plus they let you monitor comments and messages, so you can interact with your audiences in a timely and consistent fashion. If you’re willing to invest in upgraded versions, you can use them to track valuable performance statistics like audience engagement all in one spot.

Hope this information is helpful! In my next post, I’ll provide tips on how to put the “social” in your social media.

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_2

Part 2 of 5

In Part 1 of this series launched last week, I provided suggestions on what to consider before establishing your online presence. This week, in Part 2, I’m going to guide you through how to define the goals you hope to reach by taking your advocacy online.

Be S.M.A.R.T.

Continuing with single-sided deafness (SSD) advocacy as an example cause, let’s say you start with a goal of, “To raise awareness of single-sided deafness”. That’s a fine start, but you should further define what you hope to achieve online in order to track your progress and results. Most social media professionals utilize the S.M.A.R.T. method to establish clear and attainable goals. Let’s look at how this works by using this method to refine our sample goal:

  • Specific. The more precisely defined, the better. If you’re defining an online presence, here are some examples to help you set specific goals:
    • Who — do you want to reach by taking your advocacy online?
    • What — do you intend to accomplish for your cause?
    • When — what milestones do you want to reach on your way to the goal?
    • Where — do you want your online reach to extend (local, countrywide, global)?
    • Why — are you choosing to expand your advocacy to include online efforts?
    • How — are you going to use social media to achieve your goal?

This leads to a clearer, more precisely defined goal, e.g., “To raise public awareness in the U.S. of the issues affecting those living with single-sided deafness in order to increase donations this year.”

 

  • Measurable. How do you know if you’ve increased donations? Set a measurement, such as, “Double the number of donations received over last year.”
  • Attainable. Look closely at that number and make sure it’s achievable. It’s usually wise to start smaller and then build over time. In this case, perhaps something more attainable would be, “Increase donations by 10 percent over last year.”
  • Relevant. Consider whether social media provides an opportunity you wouldn’t have otherwise. If so, then ask yourself, “How?” Adjust your goal to focus on what you plan to achieve using tools uniquely available online, such as, “Increase donations by 10 percent this year by driving Friends/Fans/Followers to GoFundMe campaign.”
  • Time-based. Goals bound by specific timeframes are easier to track and attain. Rather than a vague “this year”, try, “Increase donations by 1-2 percent each month in 2019 by driving online audiences to GoFundMe campaign, with year-end goal of increasing overall donations by 10 percent.”

Still with me? Great! In my next post, I’ll discuss how to choose the best social media channels for your advocacy outreach.

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.

Using Social Media to Support Hearing Health Advocacy_1

Part 1 of 5

Everyone here at Oticon Medical is so impressed by the advocacy efforts we see online in support of the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Whether the focus is on raising awareness of related health conditions or the benefits of bone-anchored hearing systems, social media has made sharing information and events easy, immediate, and far-reaching. But how do you develop an effective social media presence and then track whether it is helping you attain your goals as an advocate?

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to provide you with tips to help you define (or refine) an effective social media strategy in support of your generous efforts. Let’s begin at the beginning — establishing your online presence.

Set yourself up for success

Before you do anything else, think about what you can offer an online audience with your advocacy.  For example, do you have personal experience with a specific health condition?

Let’s say your cause is single-sided deafness (SSD) — perhaps you have it yourself or have a child who does. Maybe you are an audiologist or lobby on behalf of those with SSD. Whatever personal and/or professional experience you have to offer, evaluate how to best express your knowledge and expertise in your social media profile so visitors to your online property will feel confident that you know what you’re talking about.

Will going online enhance your “live” efforts?

In parallel, consider why you want to take your efforts online. Developing and maintaining an effective online presence will take significant time and effort, so you want to make it worth your while. Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish that you can’t achieve through your real-world efforts alone.

Continuing to use SSD as our example cause, here are some things you want to consider:

  • Will you significantly increase your ability to reach your target audience (e.g., affected communities, other advocates) by moving some of your efforts online?
  • Will social media shares and promotion increase the general public’s awareness of the impact of SSD and understanding of those living with it?
  • Might online platforms help you raise more money for SSD research or donations in support of people who don’t have insurance coverage and can’t afford a BAHS?
  • Will promoting events like marches, meet-ups, and similar activities online improve your ability to organize them, and increase attendance beyond what you’ve experienced using traditional mailings, flyers, and word-of-mouth alone?

If the answer to one or more of these is “yes” then it’s time to move forward with establishing your online presence. In the next post in this series, I’ll guide you through how to establish “S.M.A.R.T.” goals for your social media campaigns.

Questions? Please ask yours in the comments!

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Hildy Silverman is the Manager of Digital Online Marketing for Oticon Medical US. She has nearly 30 years of experience in corporate training, traditional and online marketing, and professional/technical communications for a wide array of industries, most recently at a global hearing aid manufacturer.