13 Jul My Trip to Denmark – Seeing It All Come Together
In June, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the Oticon headquarters in Denmark for information sessions with audiologists from 27 different countries. Oticon is one of the leading companies in hearing aid development and manufacturing internationally, and their main research and design facility that employs over 600 engineers, audiologists, and other professions, is located in the beautiful country of Denmark. This facility designs hearing aids, conducts research on different listening technologies, tests the sound of the aids in thousands of different listening situations (from Eagles concerts to cafeterias), and evaluates the hearing aid structure through rigorous testing in environments that could negatively impact the hearing aid.
It was fascinating to see the creativity and intelligence involved in the design of a new hearing aid model or technology. Visiting the headquarters also reassured me that the hearing aids that clinicians are recommending for their patients undergo months to years of testing prior to being available on the market. For example, any new hearing aid design is placed in a humid, sealed glass box and bombarded with a synthetic sweat substance for 8 hours, and the hearing aid must function properly after being given time to dry out. If the hearing aid does not function properly after any of the tests, it did not withstand the environment to the company’s standards, it goes back into the design phase. If the hearing aid passes the months of testing, the aid is then fit on roughly 250 experienced hearing aid users (not employed by Oticon) to try for 3 months and critically evaluate. Oticon takes the feedback from the patients very seriously, and it is considered one of the most important parts of the process; the hearing aid sound quality and design is overhauled based on the patient feedback.
As a clinician, seeing the hearing aid move from the design phase, to a thorough testing phase of the sound quality and durability, to a patient testing and approval phase, before it is considered ready for the hearing aid market, demonstrates the quality of the research and design from the hearing aid manufacturers. Oticon’s high standard for their products is reflected in the patient satisfaction with their hearing aids in their daily lives. Oticon’s “People First” statement promises to empower people to communicate freely, interact naturally, and participate actively, and I witnessed the amount of effort that goes into making this happen for our patients.