A convenient way to hear
A new company bets on convenience as the way to enable seniors to enjoy better hearing.
Did you know that it is estimated that only two percent of people with hearing loss in Singapore actually have hearing aids, shared one of four founders of Nessa Asia, Maxime Lemiere. He added that usually that figure hovers around 10 to 20 percent in developed countries. He rattled yet another revealing statistic – on an average, it takes seven years from the time a person receives confirmation of having hearing loss to get a hearing aid, mostly because of the negative stigma related to hearing aids and that it means the person is admitting he is ageing. And, Lemiere said, that the person eventually caves in and buys one to stop the “nagging” from continuing.
It is for this reason that he co-created a new company that focuses on better hearing health and in early February, started offering monthly subscriptions of hearing aid packages in Singapore. To keep in mind the convenience element, users don’t have to leave the comfort of their homes to see an audiologist; it is all handled over the phone or video. Once a down payment is made, a hearing aid and tablet are then brought to the user’s home, where over the Internet, the audiologist will perform a hearing test, adjust the device and is available to provide follow-up support seven days a week.
“People don’t value hearing aids, they don’t want them and they think they are expensive, so we have come up with a new way to enjoy hearing aids and make it convenient for them,” explained Lemiere. He shared that if a person has possible hearing loss, he usually goes to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist to refer him to an audiologist, who will then convince the person to buy a hearing aid. To get the hearing aid well-adjusted, he would need to go and see the audiologist at least five to six times. His company has cut down this process by using the tablet, and getting the person to do a voice call to the audiologist who will guide him with the fitting and calibration of the hearing aid. Lemiere added, “It is done in the convenience of your home and we adjust it to your specific needs.”
The hearing aid, which comes in various colours, is a light Receiver-In-Ear (RIE) and is said to be ideal for those with mild and moderate hearing loss, which is 80 percent of those suffering from hearing loss in Singapore. Lemiere said that so far, he has received very positive feedback on his product and hopes to in the future eliminate the tablet and allow users to make calls and do calibration through their own personal devices.
“Nessa Asia is not selling hearing aids; Nessa Asia provides a new and convenient way to experience hearing aids and re-discover better hearing. They don’t have to come to our office, we deliver the hearing aid and tablet to them and they can talk to us over the phone or video.”
The company offers three packages – Discovery for S$68, Gold for S$88 and Platinum for S$128 per month. Users get a trial of 30 days to test-drive the hearing aid, before the subscription model kicks in. They will first need to pay a security deposit of S$300. In the unlikely event of dissatisfaction with the product, the security deposit is fully refundable, no questions asked. In case users are satisfied with the hearing aid, the money can be put towards their subscription. “They can also pay more if they wish and this would mean they would pay less per month,” explained Lemiere. For instance, if users put a down payment of S$900, the minimum they pay per month is S$48 for three years for the Discovery package. Also, Gold and Platinum packages have added services such as a medical concierge, more Internet access at home to speak to the audiologist, and even S$30 vouchers every month from top retailers.
Lemiere shared that with an ageing population, more will need his services and hopes he can eradicate the negative stigma behind hearing aids. “Ten percent above the age of 40 have hearing loss, 20 percent above 50 have hearing loss, 30 percent above 60 have hearing loss and 40 percent above 70 have hearing loss.” He is looking at convincing the seniors as well as their children and hopes his convenient model will improve the uptake of hearing aids in Singapore.
** For more information about the packages, visit Nessa Asia’s website HERE.