Phonak Remote Support

I had a great session with one of the folks at the audiology clinic I use, and it was all done remotely using the MyPhonak app. I hope providers jump all over this because the utility of doing micro-adjustments remotely will be a game changer. The only requirements for us on the client side of things are a reasonable WiFi connection and a semi-current phone capable of running MyPhonak.

A couple of minutes prior to my appointment I opened the MyPhonak app and clicked on the ‘Remote Support’ item in the menu. I received an indicator that MyPhonak was loading invitations and then was instructed to press the ‘Start’ button when my appointment was to start. I posit that I was then put into a queue to wait for the audiologist to connect. A couple of minutes later we did the can-you-hear-me-now dance as we both played with microphone and camera settings. The process was slightly more challenging as The Best Audi in The World™ also wears hearing aids and was working to get her Roger stuff working with the hardware on her side.

Less than a minute later we were amicably chatting while she was waiting for my device settings to load. Thankfully she received all of my DIY programming changes and was able to update my profile in her programming software. The rest of the session was completely typical, the exception being that we weren’t in the same quadrant of the city, let alone the same room.

Phonak has done a great job with this software, and I found no flaws in the process. Evidently we could also utilize something called ‘Audiogram Direct’ to allow the clinic to do a rudimentary hearing test using just my hearing aids. Fine tuning no longer requires a trip to the audiologist.

There’s obviously merit in annual in-patient checkups to do things beyond typical hearing screening. That said, taking travel off the table for routine adjustments is an exceptional step in the right direction.

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Yeah it’s great unless the audiologist works independently. And has a full schedule of patients. And I consider it wrong to bother him or her when they’re at home. But I guess if it’s at a clinic where there are numerous audiologists available and one is available to handle things in this manner and the patient hears really well with their aids and has good speech comprehension then it could be convenient.

I agree it sounds like a great way to go, especially during the current situation. I suggested it to my audiologist for my last appointment, but he balked at trying it. I can’t remember what his reasons were now, but I decided not to press the issue. And this guy is younger than I am, has a PhD, and used to run a college audiology program!

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My Audi told me yesterday that one of the most asked for remote adjustments is at restaurants, and after that work environments. His comment was that as long as I have a good cell signal they can do the remote adjustments anywhere. The recommendations are for the phone to be on a charger and that the hearing aids be at full charge or fresh batteries. He also said the remote adjustments drain the hearing aid batteries a lot.

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The reluctance to embrace remote sessions is real, not only among practitioners but, most surpisingly to me, among patients. I think practitioners may resent, and possibly fear, having to add another layer of technology on top of what is arguably an already complex technical burden.

I’m not sure why patients wouldn’t be clamouring for this though.

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The technology is still new and a good majority of audiologists don’t have the capability or the equipment to do “remote support”. If your audiologist is within reasonable driving distance (what ever that is) I’d personally do a face to face hearing aid adjustment change. Now if your audiologist is a long, long way from where you live “remote support” might be godsend.

But don’t assume every audiologist has the money or the capability to upgrade there “hardware” to do remote support for every customer they have.

That’s a fair point, @spectrumplay, there may be practitioners that don’t have a webcam or a laptop with a camera built in.

Out of curiosity, @spectrumplay, why would you prefer a face-to-face adjustment? To me the overall time efficiency of remote support is a net gain but perhaps I haven’t properly identified the downside.

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Well a lot depends on the “level” of adjustment itself. If its a minor chance - then remote adjustment makes sense to me. If it’s some what of a major aid adjustment or involving multiple programs I would prefer to be face to face with my Audi. As in audiologist makes a change and I can tell him/her that’s perfect or I need more this or that. To each his own. Now where remote adjustment might payoff is in “billing” cost. Say you’re way past the warranty period on aid. If that’s the case I’ll assume a remote aid adjustment would cost less, then a face to face with audiologist. Then again my current audiologist doesn’t offer remote support. If you have a good hearing aid and some what stable hearing you really don’t need to tinker with much. But of course if your hearing level changes over a period of time - its time to make a aid adjustment.

This Phonak Target remote fitting includes Audiogram Direct. Using this technology a fitter could take a brand new customer and brand new hearing aids and perform a pretty good first fit. From there it would be small changes if needed.

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Is a Noahlink still required to program with remote support?

My understanding is the user has the myPhonak app and the fitter has the Target software. Does the fitter still need Noahlink or does the app bypass this need?

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All you need to the app, they just send the package (fitting) through to you through the app.

I was thinking more from a self-programming (DIY) reference… if it was possible to skip the Noahlink.

Interesting question.
Mentioned earlier, both phone and aids need fresh batteries or charge and phone would be best on the charger.
I looked around target the other day trying to find the remote programming. Couldn’t find anything. I suspect this will be done when signed in as the professional with the Phonak site. It will come out.

Yes definitely, I tried this myself and it couldn’t be done without an account.

The person receiving the package doesn’t need anything but the app,the pro only needs an account with Phonak and of course your previous fitting session.

@Tenkan, I don’t know if a previous fitting session is required. Although my clinic had my inital fitting they didn’t have anything reflective of my subsequent changes. They were able to read my new settings from my hearing aids and we used that as a starting point for the remote session.

Yes this is what I meant to say,you needed to be a client of the theirs, but if you had made changes and they noticed those settings were different, they didn’t care that there were differences from their own data base, then I guess you don’t have to use your regular clinic, as in you could use any audiology clinic for remote support.
Has anyone tried this?

I’ve been to two audiologist and both are not interested in having remote support. Their reasoning is that most patients do not know how to hook into the system and the time involved for the audi, it just isn’t worth it. I am saddened by this as I travel 1.5 hrs. and if I change audi’s - 1 hr +/- one way. It would really be beneficial to me. I have wondered by manufacturer’s are pushing this to the audi’s as it is a selling point that they point out in their brochures and specs. I would definitely use it. The other thing that was pointed out to me was ‘the changes that can be made are so minor’ I just don’t know.

What type of changes were done remotely for you Alvin? Just curious as my Audi said not much could be done remotely. I think it was a 'I don’t want to fiddle with remote software etc."

We were able to do most everything Target does. We changed device options and accoustic profiles. We could A/B changes to guage their impact. The clinic was able to read all of the data on my devices. We didn’t have time to test Audiogram Direct, but have made arrangements to test that in the future. I’ve used Audigram Direct as part of my experiments with Target and can confirm its utility and can’t see why it would be useful as a remote tool.

I think remote support a sea change, @Sequoia_Woman, and that there’s fear on both sides. Practitioners see this as potentially eroding their patient pool and patients are worried about a lesser standard of care. Technical proficiency on the part of the patient is not a valid argument against adoption. If you can use Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, or email, you can use MyPhonak. Similarly, if your practice is already familiar with the software required for programming HA’s, your staff should be able to handle this. Especially since it appears that Phonak has abstracted away potential connection issues.

My advice to practitioners would be to reach out to a tech savy patient and say “Hey, would you help me do some testing?”. Similarly, tech savy patients can reach out to their clinic and say “Hey, lets try this new tech out and see if it’s any good.” Practitioners need patients they can safely screw up with, and patients need practitioners that are willing to try new things.

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Thank you for the info. I agree.