New Hearing Tech For 2021 – Mark Truong – #09

Learn the newest hearing technology for hearing loss and tinnitus. Mark Truong is the host of Hearing Tech News and the Hear Me Out Audiology Podcast. Join us for this informational chat.

Mark Truong, AuD

Me and Ben were talking before about Apple Airpod Pros vs. the NuHeara IQ2 buds. Really interesting space coming up at the moment for people with mild to moderate hearing losses.

New Hearing Tech 2021

Ben Thompson, AuD

Welcome to episode nine of the Pure Tinnitus & Hearing Podcast. We are here with Mark Truong. Mark is producing content, videos, and educational resources for not only audiologists and the audiology profession, but also individuals with hearing problems, who are looking for some advice for some help for some clear guidance on what kind of products that are going to actually help with their hearing. So, Mark, I welcome you to our podcast, episode nine here. And I’m the host, Ben Thompson. I’m glad to bring you in. You brought some great props and I want to start off this podcast episode by allowing you to really showcase what you do best at right now, which is compare these different hearing aid brands and the pros and cons of each of them. So people who need help can make the decision that they know they have confidence.

Mark Truong, AuD

Thanks so much, Ben for having me really appreciate the time, and thank you so much for your audience tuning in today. So my name is Mark Truong. As Ben said, I’ve been running the Hear Me Out Podcast for about the last 18 months, focused around interviewing leaders and business owners in the audiology space and really trying to get a better understanding of how the audiology works behind the scenes. As a student audiologist, I found that there’s only so much that textbooks and journal articles can tell you and it’s really interesting. Being able to hear the stories behind what people want, why people do what they do. And yeah, what goes on behind the scenes about three to four months ago, I started the hearing tech news, review channel reviewing hearing aids, hearing bowls, and all of the like. And I really found it interesting being able to test out different hearing aids like the stiletto x I’m currently driving at the moment, I’ve clocked 130 hours. And it’s really interesting all the funny quirks and features which pop out here and there. And yeah, me and Ben were talking before and speaking about Apple Airpod Pros versus the new hero IQ buds. Really interesting space coming up at the moment. For people with mild to moderate hearing losses. Were these troubles able to give you a bit more amplification don’t have as much amplification and as much tuning as a traditional hearing aid? But they’re definitely a great introduction into the space of hearing amplification. And getting better hearing for people who are just struggling background noise or just want better hearing. Thank you, Mark

Ben Thompson, AuD

You’re coming live from Melbourne, Australia. You are an audiologist. And I’ve seen the reviews you’ve made on hearing tech news. You’ve put your heart and soul into this for anyone who is considering devices to help them with tinnitus or hearing loss. I advise you guys to check that out that’s on YouTube hearing tech news. Give us an example of the kind of detail you provide when you’re comparing these different devices that are not too expensive, that are designed to help someone with a mild to moderate hearing loss or with some tinnitus that needs some help with tinnitus. What goes on through your mind? What are the take-home messages you want a viewer to understand about selecting these devices and what works for them?

Mark Truong, AuD

Yeah, absolutely. A lot of my reviews have focused around the tech aspect to log the streaming a lot of how they function day to day. As I don’t really have much of a hearing loss myself, I have a bit of hearing loss on the right side. It’s quite hard to test like how well are they performing for hearing loss? Or how well are they doing this or that? But I really like to see how they stack up in terms of streaming, what kind of additional accessories Do you need in order to connect with the phone because nowadays, it’s super important. I’m currently streaming this zoom call to my hearing aids directly. And it’s super convenient. You don’t have to have these big cans over your ears looking like a true podcaster. And I think it’s and yeah, those are the kind of things I really focus on. form factor, charging case, streaming compatibility. I really need to get back into this talking about To this and the different tinnitus features, I also have tinnitus, but really haven’t delved into that very much. But yeah, I think my intention of starting the hearing tech news channel was I saw that in the mobile phone and the gaming computer space that though people like Unbox Therapy mkbhd. Linus tech tips that we’re producing a whole ton of content helping people make the right purchase decision when they’re looking to buy a computer when they’re looking to buy a new phone. And I saw that there was just no community in the audiology space. It was Cliff Olson at a few clinics here. And then I think that was a real need for a lot more creators to come into the space, a lot more people to give their honest opinion. And to really put forth what’s out there.

Ben Thompson, AuD

Mark, can you give us a demo? Can you put some of these different devices in your ear, so we can see how big they are? And you can explain what kind of features they have for someone with a milder hearing loss?

Mark Truong, AuD

Yeah, absolutely. So I’m currently wearing the solid x. So there are traditional BTE style for external hearing aids. And they’re pretty discreet. And the new Apple Airpod Pros recently launched with headphone accommodations, so you can tune your transparency mode to your audiogram, which is super cool. And I’ve also got the Nu Heara IQ buds max. So the NuHeara IQ buds max are pretty big. They have pretty beefy drivers. And one of the issues I really found when going from the hearing aids back to something like earbud is that does a lot of occlusion. Like my voice is super booming at the moment. But one of the benefits with that is that you’re totally blocking out all sound coming in. So if you look really looking for good music, playback, good music quality, these are really, really great. And they also provide amplification. So you can put in the audiogram, you can especially in like if you’re going to the restaurant and there’s just a ton of background noise, you can focus the microphone so that they’re pointing directly in front of you so that you’re really just trying to cut out as much background noise as possible and get as much speech as possible. One of the drawbacks with newer devices like this is that they don’t provide sufficient gain for anything greater than a mild or severe hearing loss. So you’d still be looking at getting something like a hearing aid. But for people who are not really sure about hearing aids, and just need some additional help, I would highly recommend Apple Airpods Pro.

Ben Thompson, AuD

Fantastic. And as you’re going deeper into these reviews and considering tinnitus features. Remember, tinnitus is all about signal to noise ratio, whereas the tinnitus is the signal. That’s the signal that we don’t want to be that loud. Hearing aids are designed to make the speech signal very clear and the background noise very low. Whereas treating tinnitus, especially in the early stages of an early onset intense tinnitus, it’s sort of the opposite. We want the tinnitus signal to be lower and the noise to be higher, which is interesting to consider. So a device in the ear that has full occlusion like most modern Bluetooth headphones, it actually it’s not feasible to consistently long term use sound therapy for tinnitus because even though you can play sound louder than your tinnitus, or reach that mixing point or the masking point, you’re not getting that natural ambient sound of the environment. So I’ve I have a patient I’ll share a quick story. He had sudden onset tinnitus in one ear. And it was very intense. It caused them to have panic attacks and anxiety for a number of weeks. They found me and I learned their story. They were using air pod pro in one year. But the battery life was only you know, six hours, five hours, and they thought they might have a panic attack if they didn’t have some sound. in their environment, so between the battery life and the occlusion effect in the ear. That wasn’t doing it wasn’t doing it wasn’t doing them very good. So we got a hearing device instead, which has more natural air natural sounds coming in. So that was very beneficial for them. And it’s a sustainable device where the battery can last all day and they can wear it in different situations. You want to expand on that have some perspectives you have about comparing these devices related to tinnitus.

Mark Truong, AuD

Yeah, definitely. When I first had tinnitus about 12 months ago, it was really annoying when you had to put on headphones, like the first month you like, every time you put on headphones, the occlusion effect happens. And when music isn’t on, it just amplifies the tinnitus because it’s just so quiet. And I guess when wearing these kinds of devices, because you don’t have that ambient noise, which is able to pass through especially for people with slightly milder losses, it can be quite annoying. But yeah, that’s really really interesting story that, especially when it came to that five-hour mark or the six-hour mark, when when the batteries would drain low, it would definitely cause a lot of anxiety. And I really loved that. With the new hearing aids, which are rechargeable, I really think that the Apple Airpods Pro on steroids. Because they last 24 hours, well 18 to 24 hours at a time they stream to everything, especially the new phone out paradise line, literally stream to anything you want to they have double-tap functions. And you can take calls on them all day, all day long without even noticing that something’s in your ear. And I think it’s really interesting. what’s going to be happening as more people in the 40s 50s and early 60s find out that these devices are so much better than the traditional be beige bananas that they’re so used to that I think there’s a real opportunity to pose it to our clients, firstly as Apple Airpods on steroids, and it can also help you with hearing to add to this.

Ben Thompson, AuD

The battery life has been a big change. What else have you seen as in the past few years, you’ve been interviewing some impressive guests, researchers, people in the hearing industry, clinicians, and people in the tech world. So what are we currently experiencing not what might happen in the future? But what currently are the new trends that are gaining traction and popularity?

Mark Truong, AuD

Innovations of Bluetooth are really important. So everyone always complains about hearing aids and Bluetooth. So I think the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol, which is coming out in the next few years is going to be really important step in order to provide really universal connectivity. And like we’re doing at the moment, online service delivery and online content delivery, I think a lot more clinics have to really pick this up in the next. While COVID has really shell-shocked a lot of clinics, finding new ways to distribute and educate their patients. But I think in the next 12 to 24 months, we’re really going to be seeing a lot more clinics dive into this review space and dive into this educational space because modern consumers are looking for more information than ever. When you go and buy an iPhone, when you go and buy an Android phone, the first thing you do is look on YouTube and find out reviews and find out comparisons. And I think there’s a real lack of that information available in the audiology space. And I think there’s a real need for a larger community to build built around that.

Ben Thompson, AuD

Thank you. One reason I reached out to you not only because you’ve hosted an impressive podcast for a year and a half now, but also because I listened to your podcast episodes. And I found you to be very humble, very nice guy. I enjoyed that on your episodes you, It felt like you were being yourself. You were you’re laughing, you’re asking good questions. And being a younger audiologist myself I wanted to feature the great work that you’re doing and encourage you to keep going and to keep producing the Those videos and the podcast episodes and any other projects you come across because you’re doing good work. So what stands out to you as being some of the more memorable videos or podcast episodes that you’ve created thus far?

Mark Truong, AuD

Yeah, absolutely. I really enjoyed interviewing my fellow colleagues who also produce audiology podcasts. That was a ton of fun. It’s really interesting, especially connecting with you now, Ben, all the different techniques and tips that we all pick up along the way. It’s super hard to deliver content online, especially with such a small community, especially when you’re delivering specifically to audiology professionals who generally are really busy, generally don’t like watching things. But another one I was I really enjoyed was my conversation with the founder of Clementine, this was all the way back in January, February, March where COVID had just hit. And he had produced this home kit, were able to deliver a remote audiology kit, and do diagnostic work remotely. That was really, really interesting to see how he developed that on the back end. And what were some important things that audiologists really valued, valued to deliver to their clients.

Ben Thompson, AuD

I listened to that episode, actually. I feel like I’m a student of your podcast. I listen to many episodes, it turns out. Clementine is a hearing screening tool where someone can perform online screenings in their own home through their phone, or their laptop, or in a clinic as a screening tool with an iPad. And this is important because for people who are watching this, who either have tinnitus, or have early signs of hearing loss, or even mild hearing loss. We can have tinnitus but push off getting a hearing test for a while. And it’s important to encourage it. Of course, it’s everyone’s decision. But I encourage my patients or my audience to get more information because information is powerful. And if I take an online hearing screening, and it says my hearing is actually normal, that might make me feel a certain way. Also, if it says oh, you may have a mild or a moderate hearing loss. We want you to get a professional hearing test to check it out.

I’ve seen it myself, sometimes it’s just ear wax, sometimes it’s an ear infection. Other times it’s a more permanent nerve-related hearing loss. Those early signs of hearing loss are a great reason to get it checked out. And during COVID everyone prefers to stay at home without a mask online. What are your thoughts? I know you’ve interviewed some great guests who have been pushing been pushing us forward with advanced screening tools in person and online. What advice do you have to the audience? Who might be interested in some of those hearing tests?

Mark Truong, AuD

Yeah, as somebody with a hearing loss, I know it can be extremely daunting like I just went for an eye check. And do I think it’s because of COVID? Both eyes have dropped half a degree in computer screens all day, every day, when I got a result I was like, add because my eyesight has dropped below what would normally be just off the shelf lenses, they cost, even more, they’ve gone up from $200 to $500, just for the LEDs, like what’s going on? And it can be extremely daunting to go into the clinic to see the clinician have to have the news given to you on the spot, and you don’t really have time to process it by yourself. I was sitting there going, are you serious? Has my eyesight really gotten worse? And I think it’s really important that we have those online screeners where people are able to do it in the comfort of their own home, through their phone through their laptop, and just have the time to process it because it can be daunting to go into the audiology clinic and then people ask you, what’s wrong with you? Or what’s what’s going on? Why you going to see the doctor it can be definitely really daunting, and having that information beforehand, being able to be prepared. I think it’s really important. And I think something which we’ve definitely seen in the audiology industry is that people don’t want to come in because they’re scared of what they may have. And it’s cool that more things are coming available online.

Ben Thompson, AuD

Yeah, I agree. There’s definitely some thought of, even if I had a hearing loss, I don’t want to know I have a hearing loss, because then I might be propelled to actually do something. And I know, doing something means getting hearing aids, and I don’t want a hearing aid. I don’t like the way they look. So I just won’t even start the process. That perspective is definitely valid. And that’s okay.

Mark Truong, AuD

Yeah, literally, on the other side of things, it’s also really important that audiologists find out about more information about solutions, like the Airpods, or the NuHeara Buds, where they’re really able to help people who just aren’t ready for hearing aids, but need help.

Ben Thompson, AuD

I totally agree. And this idea is not new. I feel as long as I’ve been in the audiology profession, there’s been this talk that a lot of people aren’t seeking help who might benefit, but hearing aids are expensive. What do we do? And from my research, I learned that’s exactly why these products are becoming available, as well as the number of baby boomers, the actual number of people who need help with hearing far outweighs the amount of professionals who can provide the service. So both of those factors created this perfect storm where big tech companies realized we can serve people make their lives better and make money potentially doing it. Great time for you to plug your channel. What are where should someone go to learn this kind of information?

Mark Truong, AuD

Yeah, definitely. So if you’re looking for more information about the back end of Audiology, and how things run definitely check out the Hear Me Out Podcast on any podcasting platform, or the Hearing Tech News channel over on YouTube. We’ll be doing a few reviews on different hearing aids and hearables in the space.

Ben Thompson, AuD

Thank you so much Mark. This has been episode nine of Pure Tinnitus & Hearing Podcast. We’re here with Mark Truong from Melbourne, Australia, audiologist and colleague and good friend.

Mark Truong, AuD

Thank you so much, Ben. Really excited to see more people coming into the podcasting space. Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak with you today. Love the work you’re doing and keep it up.

Dr. Ben Thompson, Au.D.

Dr. Ben Thompson, Au.D.

Dr. Ben Thompson is an audiologist in California and founder of Pure Tinnitus. Dr. Thompson has a comprehensive knowledge of tinnitus management. He completed his residency at University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and is a past board member of the California Academy of Audiology. Via telehealth, Dr. Thompson provides services to patients with hearing loss and tinnitus.

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