Tuned: Empowering Hearing Care for All

Heather Malyuk at Tuned
The first commercially manufactured hearing aid was introduced to the public in 1913, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that hearing aid technology began advancing at a more rapid pace. Previous iterations of amplification left consumers feeling encumbered and noticing relatively little benefit. In the current-day framework of hearing care, we often find cost-prohibitive hearing aids to be the primary devices fit by audiology clinics across the country and world. Despite this currently being the most prevalent model, the market yearns for alternative ways to receive hearing care, ways that are more befitting of 21st century life, tastes, and budgets. This is where Tuned comes in. Tuned is changing the audiology industry by offering audiologists technology and modern care models to meet the needs of increasingly diverse patient populations.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Tuned’s head of audiology, Dr. Heather Malyuk, to discuss what they do, how they are expanding the hearing care delivery model, and what the future of the industry looks like.

What is Tuned?
Tuned is a new digital marketplace platform poised to bring affordable and accessible hearing care to millions of people in the US and abroad.

The platform itself acts as a virtual clinic that audiologists can use as the online wing for their brick-and-mortar practices. When a patient creates a profile, they can select from a variety of appointment types, from short consultation visits for education and check-ins, to longer appointments that include a hearing work-up. This work-up begins with a series of validated questions that function as a funnel for further care. Part of these questions include red-flag screening. If a patient presents with a red flag, they will be referred to see their audiologist in person.  Built with ethical design standards, the platform ensures patients with red flags are evaluated for further medical care, and any patients who need in-person care can access it.

For patients, Tuned helps those who may be hesitant to walk into an audiology clinic, or who have seen an audiologist and were surprised to find that their hearing profiles were not a good fit for hearing aids, or those that don’t think hearing aids offer substantial value.  Far beyond amplification, Tuned serves as the ideal confidential virtual clinic for consultation on hearing conservation, hearing loss prevention, and management of existing hearing disorders such as tinnitus.

How is Tuned changing the stigma surrounding hearing loss?
Tuned’s main purpose is to empower audiologists and give them the necessary tools to work with patients and meet them wherever they are in their hearing journeys. For many years hearing loss hid behind a curtain of stigma that connected it to elderly individuals. In the 21st century, that stigma is rapidly changing as new data is gathered and younger individuals seek to discuss hearing loss and receive care sooner than their parents or grandparents. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.1 billion people under the age of 30 are currently at risk for hearing loss. Knowing that the world of hearing care spans ages, means, and abilities, Tuned has created a brand-agnostic marketplace of non-hearing aid devices and apps that have been vetted by Tuned’s audiology team to meet clinical standards. From earbud devices to software, earplugs to tinnitus management, the variety Tuned provides, paired expert consultation and patient-centered care from audiologists, helps patients achieve their hearing goals.

What does the future of hearing care look like?
The hearing care industry is due for a disruption and the general public are ready for expanded hearing care options. With Tuned, audiologists can step forward to lead the change. Additionally, modern-day consumers will feel comfortable discussing hearing loss prevention strategies, hearing troubles, and hearing disorders with Tuned’s user-friendly virtual platform. Tuned believes that in the near future there will be an increase of younger individuals attending to hearing needs, as it is already slowly manifesting with increased use of ear-level devices for both work and recreation. Furthermore, the audiology community is ready to step into tele-practice to provide hearing care to all.

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