InSound XT Extended-Wear Hearing
Device Approved by FDA; Field Trials Commence

 InSound Medical’s President and CEO Adnan Shennib, CFO Thar Hassoon, and Vice President of Sales and Marketing Susan Whichard.

Newark, Calif — InSound Medical Inc. received clearance in November from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its extended-wear hearing instrument. The miniature device, which reportedly uses a low power chip that consumes less than 10% of the energy of a conventional hearing aid, is designed to be continuously worn in the ear canal for up to 4 months. The device will be test-marketed in the San Francisco area during 2003

The InSound XT Series is designed to be placed within the bony portion of the ear canal, within 3 mm of the eardrum, by an ENT physician or otologist using an operating microscope. The procedure reportedly takes 3-5 minutes and requires no anesthesia. The company anticipates that dispensing professionals will work closely with physicians and be responsible for the programming of the device, counseling of the patients, and most of the services typically associated with the dispensing of hearing aids. In total, the initial fitting is designed to take about an hour. Patients using the XT Series will come into the office for a replacement device (it is disposable) every 3-4 months, depending on usage.

 The InSound XT Series device resides in the bony portion of the canal and is designed to operate up to 4 months without replacement.

The XT Series uses wireless programming through the use of a Handspring Visor (similar to a Palm Pilot) and the company’s proprietary hardware and software. The device has a magnetic control for the user that allows it to be turned on and off, as well as have its volume adjusted within clinician-specified limits. If necessary, the device can be removed by the hearing care professional, the client, or a family member utilizing a special removal tool.

According to Vice President of Sales and Marketing Susan Whichard, the XT Series is the first extended-wear product in the hearing care industry, and it represents something truly new in the field of amplification. “The XT Series is an extended-wear device that is designed for hassle-free hearing,” says Whichard. “People who wear the device often report that they actually forget that it’s there. In particular, I think it offers three great benefits: 1) You don’t have to change the battery, or manipulate the instrument in terms of inserting/removing it, or cleaning the device; 2) It resides primarily within the bony region of the ear, so it’s totally invisible and is extremely comfortable; and 3) The performance that the user gets, partly due to true deep placement, provides excellent hearing benefits, including better high frequency amplification, high gain without distortion, and better sound localization, with greatly reduced feedback and occlusion.”

“By removing the social stigma associated with a visible hearing aid, we expect the InSound XT to provide the hearing impaired with a richer and fuller life,” says Adnan Shennib, company president and CEO. “The device is so unobtrusive and hassle free that a user can shower, sleep, and swim with the device in the ear.”

Whichard estimates that about 75% of the hearing-impaired population will be candidates for the device, with the primary physical limitations being the size and/or shape of the patient’s ear canal and the severity of their hearing loss. The device is recommended for mild to moderately severe losses.

The company expects the device to foster greater communication between the dispensing community and ENT physicians. “There is an opportunity for some excellent bridge-building between the professions here,” says Whichard, “with great implications for all hearing care professionals and their professions in the future.”

Field trials on the system are currently being conducted at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF). “The [device] has the potential to overcome many of the problems that currently prevent the hearing-impaired from obtaining hearing devices,” says Robert Sweetow, PhD, director of audiology and professor of otolaryngology at the UCSF Medical Center.

UCSF Professor and Emeritus Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology Robert Schindler, MD, says, “I believe that ENTs, audiologists, and most importantly, patients will herald the arrival of the InSound XT. It is a groundbreaking development for the hearing impaired.” Plans are being made to test-market the device in about 20 offices in the San Francisco area during 2003.

More information on the device can be found on the company’s Web site at www.insoundmedical.com.  


Audiology Co-Op Closes Doors; Baskin Dead of Apparent Suicide
Akron, Ohio — In the wake of lawsuits and accusations of financial misdeeds, the Audiology Companies’ (The Buying Group/Audiology Co-Op) Group Chairman and CEO Bruce Baskin, 59, committed suicide, according to the Summit County Medical Examiners office and an article by Karalee Miller of the Beacon Journal (Nov. 24, 2002). The company has closed its doors and auctioned off its equipment.

Baskin had essentially run the Audiology Co.’s finances and operations since 1981, according to sources in the field. With approximately 400 members in 47 states, the Co-Op was among the top-three independent dispenser buying groups in the hearing industry. Rumors began to swirl around the company during the last several months, when lawsuits by Co-Op members and suppliers were filed. Among those filing lawsuits were a hearing instrument manufacturer who, according to sources, was owed more than $350,000, and several dispensing professionals who claimed tens of thousands of dollars owed to them.

Baskin had announced his retirement in July 2002, handing over his responsibilities to long-time industry personnel. But, within weeks, he renounced the decision and took over the company again. Around that time, according to industry sources, Co-op members started noticing that money was missing from their accounts which are used for purchases and marketing-related endeavors, and some members filed suit. Soon afterward, Merrill Lynch reported that Baskin approached its offices with plans to move to Switzerland without his wife, Barbara, and also asked for letters of introduction to a bank on the island of St. Martin. He also authorized transfers from business accounts to accounts in his name, according to the Beacon Journal. Merrill Lynch, in an affidavit, said that Baskin told his financial advisor that he was terminally ill and would die in two years. The company says he had written several checks that totalled almost $1 million from accounts that included the Co-Op, depositing them in his cash management account. Merrill Lynch says those accounts and the Co-Op account currently total about $1.1 million.

Baskin was to appear in Summit County Pleas Court in late-November and early-December with his business records. His body was found in his apartment by his cleaning woman on November 23. He was found shot in the head with a .38 caliber revolver, and police report there were two suicide notes.


The Dome Internet Service Launched by ContentScan Inc
La Jolla, Calif — A new Internet resource designed for hearing care professionals and speech language pathologists, called the Dome™, has been launched by ContentScan Inc. Developed by Sadanand Singh, PhD, the founder of Singular Publishing, the Dome is a subscription-based online professional resource center that has been developed to connect the fields’ content and community, enabling users to explore, identify, and acquire relevant content to meet scholarly or professional needs. The Dome reportedly includes more than 700 books from 16 publishers, more than 70 journals with over 50,000 articles, and over 5,000 dissertations since 1960.

 ContentScan’s Dome is designed to link professionals with topics and the research community.

According to ContentScan President Samir Singh, the Dome has been designed to provide information exchange tailored specifically to the needs and interests of clinicians, professors, researchers, and students within the fields of audiology and speech-language pathology. “The goal is not to provide content to people, but rather to identify and connect hearing care professionals with the best resources for any hearing-related question. The Dome allows members to connect to content in the field beyond written words, and in many cases, to the authors, researchers, dissertations, and educational institutions. We look at this from the perspective of a social environment. If someone is looking for information, they will find a comprehensive list of sources here, but they will also find links to the people, institutions, and the social fabric that constitute research and authorship in that particular area.”

“This is a second-generation Internet product,” says Vice President of Marketing Todd Savitt, “that integrates the field and its knowledge base with the language, or lexicon, of the discipline. Language that is commonly used in the hearing care and speech-language disorders community can be typed into the search program, and meaningful results will be gathered in an active, as opposed to a passive, manner.” The Dome is also capable of building a content record for each user, so it becomes “tuned into” the users interests and search tendencies, according to Savitt. It includes a Topic Hierarchy system with more than 10,000 topic areas to help locate a particular area of interest and explore its relationship to other areas. A Bookshelf feature provides a customizable folder system for users, and a personal Web space, called DomePage™, can be established for the purpose of referring patients, colleagues, and students to specific hearing-related information.

The company is offering a free 72-hour trial period for interested hearing care professionals in mid-January, special rates for students, as well as group rates for larger facilities, universities, and institutions. For more information, visit the ComDisDome Web site at www.comdisdome.com or contact ContentScan at (858) 452-1264.


AHAA to Hold Seventh Annual Convention
West Chester, PA — American Hearing Aid Associates (AHAA) will hold its seventh annual convention February 6-9, 2002, in Las Vegas at the Aladdin Hotel & Casino. More than 400 hearing health care professionals who are associates in the AHAA network have already registered, according to the company.

The program will focus on how associates can maximize the profitability of their practices. “Attendees give high marks to the quality and freshness of our programs,” says AHAA CEO Vince Russomagno. “They tell us that the business management information we present is what we do best because it is practical and immediately applicable to their practices.”

The program covers more than 25 topics such as marketing, sales techniques, practice management, assessing patient needs, and finance. New for 2003 will be a number of round table discussions to stimulate more idea sharing by attendees. On the program again is the popular manufacturers’ panel, discussing the latest technological advances, which they will also be exhibiting. During the convention, examples of the network associates’ efforts to market their services will be on display. Attendees will also vote for the five “Best of the Best” marketing ideas. For more information, contact AHAA at 800-984-3272.