Lyric Hearing Aids By Phonak
Swiss hearing aid maker Phonak, in existence since 1947, manufactures Lyric hearing aids under the Sonova Holding AG umbrella. Phonak has been an innovative hearing aid provider around the world throughout its business lifetime. It has pioneered the application of computer chip technology to hearing aid types and is also at the forefront of hearing device miniaturisation. The company currently offers BTE (behind-the-ear), ITE (in-the-ear), ITC (in-the-canal), and CIC (completely-in-canal) hearing aids. The Lyric falls into the last category and is an incredibly remarkable device.
Lyric’s Life Story
Originally conceptualised in the USA in the early 2000s, Lyric hearing aids’ innovative nature required U.S. Federal Drug Administration approval a decade ago prior to marketing. Testing of the device was thorough and extensive and marketing of Lyric hearing aids that fit deeply in the ear canal began in 2007. A Lyric is so deep in the canal that it lies beyond the glands that develop earwax. This is particularly important to many hearing aid users because earwax has a way of getting into hearing aid openings, particularly microphone and receiver ports.
These little Lyric hearing aids are positioned within the ear canal next to the eardrum. Because of a Lyric’s proximity to the tympanic membrane, a special technician called a “Certified Lyric Provider” must have special training to insert the Lyric and remove it. You see, the Lyric is not removed at night. Lyric hearing aids amplify and modify the sound signal delivered to the eardrum “around the clock,” an asset that many hearing loss sufferers have missed with use of conventional hearing aids.
Once inserted a Lyric remains in place next to the eardrum for up to three months. It is completely hidden and one of the reasons why invisible hearing aids are so popular. The hearing aid user needs to replace no batteries during that time. The Lyric is an amplification system that delivers amplified sound directly to the eardrum and is designed for people suffering from “mild to moderate” hearing losses. At the end of the three months, the hearing aid user returns to the Certified Lyric Provider who removes the device and inserts an entirely new Lyric in its place. Of course, the new device will have the same frequency components and amplification characteristics of the hearing aid being replaced. Used or retired Lyric devices can be discarded by the Lyric Provider or by the user. Essentially, a Lyric customer need not visit one of Ozen’s Certified Lyric Provider too frequently. When they do visit however, it will usually be to receive a “new” aid inserted deeply into the ear canal. While this can be uncomfortable, patients get used to it pretty quickly.
Lyric Pricing Model: A Unique Sales Arrangement
Technically, Lyric hearing aids are “sold” by audiologists and hearing care professionals at Ozen. However, the Lyric “package” is very much a service oriented one. Lyric is a hearing aid device with specifications tailored to individual user needs, just like every other hearing aid. But, more than this, it is a service-intensive device. The hearing aid must be appropriate for a user’s hearing needs, be obtained from Phonak on a scheduled basis, and sized and inserted multiple times by a Certified Lyric Provider over the course of a year. Costs for multiple hearing aids (up to seven a year can often be required, depending on a user’s sound environment) also cover a number of other fitting or insertion charges. At Ozen we sell a bundle of hearing aids and Certified Lyric Provider insertion services in a single, subscription package. Subscriptions may be paid monthly or annually on the basis of single or multiple year commitments. Typical subscription costs per ear would be $2400 annually (about $192.50/month), $4200 for two years (about $175/month), or $6000 for three years (about $162.50/month). The subscription entitles a patient up to a maximum of seven devices each year.
Lyric hearing aids are products covered by the “Australian Hearing Services Regulations 1992, Statutory Rules 1992 No. 188 As Amended,” and all Lyric hearing aids themselves meet international standards. Lyric aids are unique because they are designed to be “service” products. The Certified Lyric Provider provides a unique service, i.e. the provision of hearing to the consumer via the Lyric hearing aid. A Lyric cannot function independently of the Certified Lyric Provider. The consumer cannot readily insert a device or remove it from the ear canal. Consumer attempts would result in trauma to the canal or to the tympanic membrane or event to the ossicular chain beyond the membrane. The Lyric is simply too deep in the canal. The Lyric itself will meet product specifications, but those specifications have no value without the Certified Lyric Provider.
Uniqueness of Lyric Hearing Aids
The Lyric suits a number of different types of hearing loss cases. Sound quality is clear and succinct because of the proximity of the hearing device to the tympanic membrane. No earmold is needed because Lyric is situated within a sleeve that resides in the ear canal. Lyric lies so deeply in the canal that many problems associated with hearing loss just do not exist. Cerumen does not plug things up. Battery compartments do not have to be opened and tiny batteries, too small for human hands, do not need to be replaced.
Lyric will operate for three months with no battery replacement. There are, therefore, no batteries to buy. Cosmetics are not an issue. The hearing aid lies so deeply in the external auditory canal that the Lyric is completely invisible to anyone peering at the ear. Ozen Certified Lyric Providers will provide all service needs on a scheduled, quarterly basis. (For some users, replacement may be needed more often, e.g., a two month basis.)