Hearing loss is a silent epidemic that affects millions of people worldwide. Yet, it often remains undiagnosed and untreated, leading to profound consequences for individuals and their loved ones. With hearing loss being twice as prevalent as diabetes or cancer, it is evident that this condition demands our attention and swift action. Recognizing this urgent need, Lucid Hearing provides innovative solutions for most levels of hearing loss. Since 2009, the company has worked to develop exceptional resources and expertise dedicated to the pursuit of better hearing.
At the core of Lucid Hearing’s offerings lie traditional prescription hearing aids designed to address a wide spectrum of hearing impairments. In addition, the company’s continually expanding portfolio includes over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, specifically tailored for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss. By providing a comprehensive selection of hearing solutions, Lucid Hearing ensures that individuals can find the perfect fit for their unique requirements.
However, Lucid Hearing goes beyond the realm of hearing aids. Led by CEO Tim Schnell, the Fort Worth-based manufacturer also offers a range of products dedicated to hearing enjoyment and protection. By addressing the broader aspects of hearing health, Lucid Hearing provides consumers with a holistic experience with advanced solutions that not only improve hearing but also enhance overall auditory well-being and the listening experience.
Let’s learn how Lucid Hearing is transforming lives through its holistic approach to hearing health and helping individuals by offering advanced, high-quality solutions.
Prevalence of the Need for Hearing Aids Today
“As someone with hearing loss, I can tell you with certainty that it makes communication harder because people with hearing loss are missing sounds,” shares Schnell. “People with a hearing impairment have to work harder just to understand what is being said. This leads to listening fatigue. Many individuals with hearing loss often feel frustrated or embarrassed because of their inability to follow along and contribute to conversations. Untreated hearing loss also has consequences beyond communication difficulties.”
Studies have shown that untreated hearing loss increases the risks of falling and dementia, plus isolation and depression. The good news is that treating hearing loss with hearing aids reduces these risks and significantly improves overall quality of life.
Hearing loss is quite prevalent throughout the world. Over 1.5 billion people worldwide have some degree of hearing loss in at least one ear. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 430 million people globally have a disabling loss that requires rehabilitation. By 2050, that number will grow to over 700 million. WHO defines disabling hearing loss as greater than 35 dB in the better-hearing ear. The prevalence increases with age, with 25% of adults over the age of 65 suffering from disabling loss.
Mission and Vision
At Lucid Hearing, the mission is Helping People Hear Better®. Since its founding in 2009, the company has helped millions of people across its hearing healthcare family of brands – encompassing hearing enhancement, enjoyment, protection, and detection. The company’s vision is to inspire healthy hearing for life, from the first moment patients hear to all the moments that matter.
Offering the Full Spectrum of Hearing Aids – from Traditional to Over-the-Counter
Lucid Hearing’s products include everything from traditional prescription hearing aids to a continually expanding portfolio of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. “Combined with our products for hearing enjoyment and protection, Lucid Hearing’s expansive portfolio offers consumers a holistic hearing health experience,” says Schnell.
He continues, “One of our key differentiators is our exclusive Powered by Lucid® technology, which uses up to an industry-leading 128 channels to deliver clearer conversations and comfort. While most other brands use compression technology and offer only up to 64 channels, we use technology developed with adaptive dynamic range optimization, which is based on research developed for the cochlear implant.”
Understanding Customers’ Hearing Needs
“As a vertically integrated technology company, our ability to connect with and gather information about our customers’ hearing needs is a vital part of our innovation process for new technologies, products and services,” emphasizes Schnell. “We have the advantage of the personal connections our hearing instrument specialists and audiologists create through patient interactions in our 500+ hearing aid clinics, and we utilize the data from millions of hearing tests and hearing aid fittings as part of our R&D and innovation pipeline.”
The acoustics in Lucid Hearing’s OTC hearing aids have been created from this vital first-party data, combined with a machine learning approach that the team developed in conjunction with the University of Texas at Dallas, one of the country’s top audiology programs.
Engineering Products for Hearing Health and Enhancement
Lucid Hearing has decades of experience engineering products for the human ear. They have designed and engineered products from hearing protection to top-of-the-line in-ear monitors for musicians to hearing aids. The company leverages this broad understanding of acoustics and in-ear product design to create products that allow consumers to achieve their best hearing experiences throughout their hearing journey.
Lucid Hearing has a unique algorithmic approach to processing sound, using technology that excels at speech clarity, particularly in noisy settings. Additional expertise in Bluetooth performance and antenna design, combined with patented mobile personalization and cloud-based applications create an immersive consumer experience for customers.
Making Hearing Health Accessible
Lucid Hearing is always looking for ways to promote hearing health, including safety and ease of use, through its products. “One of the ways that we accomplish this is to have licensed providers available to educate and support our customers throughout their hearing health journey. With this mindset, we made the decision that, while OTC hearing aids do not require a hearing test, we still encourage customers to seek a hearing evaluation to determine what product is right for them,” explains Schnell.
With the market introduction of the OTC category, Schnell and his team saw an opportunity to meet the needs of those looking for hearing aid options that are accessible and affordable. It is the ease and accessibility of this category that made entering into this space an automatic “yes” for them.
The company also offers remote customer support for its OTC customers to help them make the most of their OTC hearing aids. However, if a person’s needs are not fully met with an OTC premium product, any of those devices can be taken to one of Lucid Hearing’s 500+ hearing centers, most of which are inside Sam’s Club locations across the country. There customers can have their OTC premium devices converted to prescription hearing aids to treat their specific level of hearing loss.
“We’re committed to meeting people where they are in their journey to better hearing and walk with them every step of the way,” says Schnell.
Turning Challenges into Opportunities
At Lucid Hearing, one of the biggest challenges is recruiting, training and managing the continuing education of their specialists. The number of hearing instrument specialists and audiologists in the US is relatively small compared to other retail-based medical specializations (like pharmacy or optical). For this reason, since 2015, the company has invested significant time and funding into developing a robust apprentice program. This allows them to leverage the experience of their current associates to train and develop the next generation of specialists.
After completing the apprentice program and receiving a state license, a specialist’s development continues with personalized training. “We use machine learning on our intake and fitting data to help us identify individual specialist improvement opportunities during the consultation and testing process. Having distinct training recommendations tailored for individuals keeps our team focused on what is best for the patient and furthers our mission to help more people hear better,” highlights Schnell.
Words of Wisdom
To any individual who wishes to venture into the hearing healthcare arena, Schnell advises, “Focus on the consumer. You have to think like a consumer and understand what their mindset is. The most important thing they want is to have better hearing so they can stay engaged with their friends and families and enjoy and participate in every moment.”
“Another key point to consider is to keep the user experience simple,” he added. “We want people to use our technology, and if it is difficult, they may give up and not adapt to wearing hearing aids, preventing them from staying engaged in life. And that would be unfortunate because improved hearing can dramatically improve quality of life.”
Scaling 2023 and Beyond
“The core component to Lucid Hearing’s growth is the amazing people we have in all facets of the company,” emphasizes Schnell. “As Lucid Hearing continues to attract, train and develop people, the company, as well as our patients, will benefit from productivity and testing enhancements, R&D product development with easier-to-use aids and improved customer service experiences.”
The company also has an enormous amount of data on the patient experience, associates’ time spent interacting with patients, and many best ways to use and improve Lucid Hearing aids. As the team navigates the multitude of options for data use, implementing machine learning will allow for significantly defined development paths to better the patient experience and make product use even easier.
Lastly, OTC hearing aids are in the early market stage, and as hearing aid technology revolutionizes consumer interactions in various ways, technological advancements will drive earlier adoption of hearing aids for more people.
“Lucid Hearing’s future is laser-focused on delivering more great products to the market to be serviced by our amazing associates who are dedicated to helping people hear better,” concludes Schnell.