As we mark the one-year anniversary of the enactment of the FDA's over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid regulations, we are excited to share insights gleaned from a recent survey of Eargo OTC self-fitting hearing aid users — published here in The Hearing Review. The survey was sent to over 11,000 Eargo customers and received 884 responses, 99.7% of whom had purchased Eargo hearing aids with self-fitting software. The results provide interesting insights into the experiences and perceptions of Eargo users, shedding light on the positive impact of OTC devices like ours. The survey results suggest that Eargo’s innovative technology and customer-first approach, including our direct-to-consumer delivery and virtual support model, have positively impacted adoption time, accessibility, affordability, and reduced stigma associated with hearing aids.
Accessibility and Adoption
Approximately 88% of survey respondents indicated that purchasing hearing aids through Eargo was quick and efficient, while 76% of survey respondents indicated that they believed there were barriers to purchasing hearing aids in-person via a clinic, with the top three barriers identified as 1) going in for multiple visits; 2) the types and styles of devices available in person; and 3) waiting for an appointment. Most respondents identified that the biggest benefits from purchasing hearing aids directly from Eargo were convenience, transparent costs, speed, invisibility and rechargeability of the devices, and the technology of Eargo’s virtual platform. We believe that most of these identified benefits address the primary identified drawbacks of the traditional model.
According to the survey results, Eargo's hearing aids also reached first-time hearing aid users more quickly than traditional channels, reducing the time from a person’s first recognition of hearing difficulty to purchasing a hearing device (which we refer to as “time to adoption”). The average time to adoption for survey respondents was approximately 4 years, in comparison to the clinical literature estimate of 8.9 years.1 70% of the respondents were new to hearing aids when they purchased their Eargos, indicating that Eargo was effectively reaching those with previously unaddressed hearing loss.
Convenience and Benefits
For survey respondents who had previously worn a traditional hearing aid, 75% reported that the performance of their Eargo hearing aid was equal to or better than their traditional hearing aid, and 83% responded that using and maintaining their Eargo hearing aid was equal to or easier than using and maintaining their traditional hearing aid.
Users generally found Eargo's direct-to-consumer model more convenient and quicker than traditional in-person clinics. The majority of respondents reported that their Eargo hearing aids met or exceeded their expectations, and approximately 77% of respondents perceived that devices purchased directly online are either more affordable or about the same cost as buying in-person.
Preference for Discretion
86% of survey respondents ranked invisibility as very important or moderately important when choosing a hearing aid, and only half of survey respondents indicated with certainty that they would still purchase a hearing aid if no virtually invisible options were available to them. 87% of survey respondents had a strong preference for completely-in-the-canal devices, the same form factor as Eargos. The importance of discretion increased significantly in the population under 65 years of age. Based on survey results, it seems a virtually invisible product may actually be breaking a barrier to hearing care by increasing the likelihood of adoption.
When asked about a situation in which Eargo’s customer-centric system and virtually invisible devices did not exist, only 18% of respondents indicated that they would have purchased a different, visible OTC hearing aid, whereas the majority (60%) would elect to go in-person to a hearing care professional for an invisible device. The combination of Eargo’s innovative technology and virtually invisible form factor seems to be a driving force behind adoption of hearing aids for survey respondents, rather than the mere availability of OTC hearing aids.
The journey toward better hearing health has never been more exciting. OTC hearing aids are transforming the way individuals access and perceive hearing solutions. These survey insights reflect how OTC self-fitting hearing aids like Eargos are transforming the landscape, making effective hearing aids more accessible and convenient for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss. With Eargo, you're not just buying a device; you're embracing a new era in hearing care — one that's personalized, efficient, and tailored to your unique needs. Welcome to the future of hearing health!
If interested, we encourage you to view the full discussion of survey results here: https://hearingreview.com/hearing-products/hearing-aids/otc/survey-details-11000-otc-self-fitting-hearing-aid-users-experiences-perceptions
1 Simpson AN, Matthews LJ, Cassarly C, Dubno JR. Time from hearing-aid candidacy to hearing-aid adoption: a longitudinal cohort study. Ear hear. 2019; 40(3):468-476. doi:10.1097/AUD..0000000000000641.