Consumer / Employer, Health Tech

Tuned Launches Hearing Solution for Teens

Tuned’s new teen-focused solution, which launches Tuesday, caters to those aged 13 to 17 and will be offered as an employer-sponsored benefit. The program sends parents headphones and an iPad, which comes with two different hearing assessments.

Tuned, a digital hearing health company targeting employers, is launching a hearing care program for teens, the startup shared with MedCity News exclusively.

New York City-based Tuned’s solution is an employer-sponsored benefit that offers hearing screenings, consultations with audiologists and hearing products on its website. Its new teen-focused solution, which launches Tuesday, caters to those aged 13 to 17 and will also be offered as an employer-sponsored benefit. It will be available to employer clients across all 50 states.

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The program sends parents headphones and an iPad, which comes with two different hearing assessments. The first is called Rhythmicity, which was developed by the University of California San Francisco and tests kids’ ability to stay on beat with a rhythm. The other screening is called Sound Scouts, a test created in Australia that checks for kids’ ability to hear sound without background noise, as well as sound with background noise.

After the screenings, patients and their caregivers have a virtual consultation with a Tuned audiologist to go over the results. This is also an opportunity for the audiologist to see how the child acts, said Dr. Jacqueline Scholl, head of pediatrics at Tuned. During this call, the kid has a quick reading test, since reading is an important part of auditory skills. Then, if the audiologist determines that more care is required, the company will provide care navigation services to direct the patients to a local provider.

Currently, one to three kids per 1,000 suffer from hearing loss in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, about 12.5% of kids aged 6 to 19 have permanent damage to their hearing due to excessive noise exposure, the CDC also reported. Children with hearing loss often experience developmental delays. While most kids are screened for hearing after birth, many aren’t screened past that.

“[Hearing problems in kids] is happening in such large numbers,” Scholl said. “Parents don’t know. Is it auditory processing? Is it ADHD? Is it both? If you’re not testing or checking, you don’t know.”

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Scholl has her own experience when it comes to pediatric hearing health. Her daughter is deaf, and her son has an auditory pathway problem. Her son’s hearing condition was initially mistaken for ADHD and wasn’t discovered until he was 13 when Scholl received a new piece of hearing equipment at the clinic where she worked.

“My son was diagnosed with ADHD, was put on medication and … this was before I knew what I know now,” Scholl said. “I had no idea the kid had an auditory pathway problem. I was accepting what the psychiatrists were saying. His IQ is extremely high, [but] he couldn’t read. I was like ‘Okay, don’t tell me I need to read another book to my kid because I read to my child before he was even born.’”

In launching the new solution, Scholl aims to change the trajectory for kids experiencing hearing loss.

“We can make a difference if we catch them early. … My first goal is to get [the solution] out to as many people as we can,” she said. “My second goal is to find these kids and change their lives.”

Other hearing care companies include Soundly and Eargo, though these are direct-to-consumer focused, and they don’t appear to have a pediatric-specific solution.

Picture: natasaadzic, Getty Images