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Mass customization and personalization news
The new Siemens Hearing Instruments iScan
2005-04-07 - Malvern, Pennsylvania, USA and Erlangen, Germany: Siemens Hearing Instruments, Inc - the largest manufacturer of hearing instruments in the United States - has introduced iScan(TM), the first in-office ear impression scanner designed exclusively for use by the hearing care professional, in their office.
For the first time, hearing care professionals will be able to scan ear impressions using state-of-the art technology in their office and then send the custom product order, including the digital impression electronically to the manufacturer for production. This is a significant step forward over the existing methods, which involved sending ear impressions by mail to the manufacturer. The iScan should enabled the design of hearing devices to make the final jump from customized to mass customized.
The electronic transfer of the order can be accomplished by either the Siemens "mySiemens" e-business website or the NOAH eTONA electronic ordering system. mySiemens is a complete e-business website that allows hearing care professionals to interact with Siemens at any time of the day or night, 365 days a year. It empowers them to work when and how they wish and creating a completely integrated ordering system. The NOAH eTONA platform is a newly emerging system produced by HIMSA (Hearing Instrument Manufacturers' Software Association), also intended for placing electronic orders.
With iScan, hearing care professionals will be able to take advantage of digital scanning's known benefits to obtain an overall more accurate and efficient hearing instrument fitting process. iScan will help make that process faster through a complete online ordering system, subsequently helping deliver hearing instruments faster and more efficiently to the estimated one million people who receive new or replacement hearing instruments each year.
The iScan may also facilitate the growth of the non-medical hearing device sector - manufacturers of advanced in-ear monitors for personal devices such as MP3 players. At present, a customer for in-ear monitors must get physical impressions taken and then mail them to the manufacturer. A customer for custom-made in-ear monitors could visit their local hearing specialist, who would use iScan to take measurements, and send the data via eTONA directly to the third party manufacturer. A simplified ordering process could be put in place, where the customer could be given an order number which they could then use to complete the order and payment process at home.
However, a potential obstacle to to this idea is that the manufacturer would have to change their production methods. Whereas previously they received physical impressions that could be used to make moulds, they would instead receive iScan data.
Introduced to the 5000+ attendees at the 2005 American Academy of Audiology meeting in Washington DC, and available later this year, the innovative iScan system will bring the benefits of cutting-edge ear impression scanning techniques into the hearing care professionals' office. Patients should experience better-fitting, custom made hearing instruments with a faster manufacturing turn around time as a result of iScan's state-of-the-art technology.
"Coupled with hearing instruments like the Siemens ACURIS(TM), our most advanced hearing instrument technology, iScan represents another major milestone for the hearing care community," said Dr. Thomas Powers, Chief Research Officer at Siemens Hearing Instruments, Inc. "We are proud to introduce here at the American Academy of Audiology, the first digital impression scanner, developed exclusively for use by Audiologists and other hearing care professionals. There is no better place to introduce an efficient, fast and accurate scanning and ordering process that can significantly benefit the patients and practices of audiologists and dispensers."
iScan represents a new trend for the hearing instrument fitting process because it goes a long way to eliminate most of the hassles related to handling the ear impression during the ordering process including shipping and paper-work related errors. In addition, if hearing care professionals ever need to order a remake or replacement, they have the option of using the original iScan file without having to create and send a new impression. The digitized impressions produced by scanning have been shown to result in a more precise hearing instrument fit and that leads to improved patient satisfaction.
"I am very excited about the availability of Siemens' iScan," said audiologist Gary Leffke, Au.D., FAAA, from Virginia Beach, Virginia. "I have a very busy practice and being able to accurately scan ear impressions in-office and electronically send them to the manufacturer is a big advantage to me. It frees up more of my time and improves my patient's overall experience."
iScan's state-of-the art technology allows hearing care professionals to increase their productivity and provide better customer service to their patients. The Siemens e-ordering system offers complete online ordering, which is a convenient and fast electronic ordering process that allows the audiologist and dispenser to spend more time with their patients and not with paper work. "Now that I have experienced iScan, don't dare take it away from me," laughs Rich Burba of Audiology Services in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, "I love this system. The technology is so convenient and efficient, my turnaround time has never been better. It's one thing that has really made a positive difference in my workday."