m2Health has collaborated with its Hong Kong partner, ACE Communications Limited (ACL), and leading hearing restoration experts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong to develop new hearing health technology for patients with hearing impairment.
The solution, which m2Health has the rights to distribute in Africa, enables a quick hearing test through technology that is supported on touch screen devices. After the test, the records are uploaded to the cloud for interpretation and monitoring. Remote review by authorised hearing health professionals can be automatically triggered for those individuals who don’t meet expected hearing thresholds.
Such ‘remote’ capability is ideal for field-based work in underserved regions of South Africa. The platform is also suitable to be deployed for telemedicine, eLearning and mHealth use.
According to m2Health’s Head of Distribution, Mike Melvill, “the solution can be envisaged as the hearing equivalent of a typical eye chart; it’s that simple and quick.” Melvill claims that the technology has been shown in carefully controlled clinical trials to be “equivalent to traditional pure-tone audiograms with the distinct advantage that the screening test doesn’t require a sound-proof booth, only a quiet room.”
The technology has won multiple international awards and was included in the WHO innovative health technology for low resource settings compendium last year, and has potential to have an impact on hearing wellness programmes in both developed and undeveloped countries.
m2Health has also secured the rights from ACL to distribute a separate plug-in device – the size of a matchbox – that improves hearing for a patient based on their hearing profile. Different hearing profiles can be loaded on the device, based on different ambient noise for various locations, which enables the user to experience optimised sound in challenging environments such as noisy restaurants or the workplace.
Once plugged into an iPad, smart phone or TV the device enables the user to experience personalised hearing enhancement. Melvill noted that “this solution is the hearing equivalent of buying a pair of reading glasses off the shelf at a local pharmacy.”
The technology has been tested on over 7,000 subjects and further trials are ongoing in several countries, including China and South Africa. Melvill feels the reason the technology has already achieved international recognition is because it embodies the best attributes of what eHealth and mHealth aspire to deliver.