Hearing Matters Podcast

BONUS: Ear and Hearing Care for All feat. Andrew Bellavia | AuraFuturity

March 01, 2023 Hearing Matters
Hearing Matters Podcast
BONUS: Ear and Hearing Care for All feat. Andrew Bellavia | AuraFuturity
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Show Notes Transcript

Prior to founding AuraFuturity, Andrew had previous experience in international sales, marketing, product management, and general management. Audio has been both of abiding interest and a market he served professionally in these roles. Andrew has been deeply embedded in the hearables space since the beginning and is recognized as a thought leader in the convergence of hearables and hearing health. He has been a strong advocate for hearing care innovation and accessibility, work made more personal when he faced his own hearing loss and sought treatment All these skills and experiences are brought to bear at AuraFuturity, providing go-to-market, branding, and content services to the dynamic and growing hearables, hearing health, and broader communication spaces.

Andrew joins us on the Hearing Matters Podcast to celebrate World Hearing Day. This year's theme is "Ear and Hearing Care for All. Let's Make It a Reality." With this theme, the communication objectives are to:

  • Draw attention of decision makers in governments and civil society groups towards the WHO’s recommendations regarding integration of ear and hearing care into PHC.
  • Encourage governments to integrate primary ear and hearing care into training programmes for health care providers at primary level.
  • Call attention of primary level health care providers (health workers and physicians) towards the needs of people with hearing loss and ear disease.
  • Inform people about the importance of ear and hearing care and encourage them to seek services.

On this day, WHO will launch a new training manual - Primary ear and hearing care training manual. The manual will be accompanied with trainer’s handbook and other community resources.

  • Ear and hearing problems are among the most common problems encountered in the community.
  • Over 60% of these can be identified and addressed at the primary level of care.
  • Integration of ear and hearing care into primary care services is possible through training and capacity building at this level.
  • Such integration will benefit people and help countries move towards the goal of universal health coverage.

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Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (00:06):

You're tuned in to the Hearing Matters Podcast, the show that discusses hearing technology best practices, and a growing national epidemic: Hearing Loss. Before we kick this episode off, a special thank you to our partners: Weave - The All-in-One patient communication and engagement platform. Redux - Faster. Drier. Smarter. Verified. Fader Plugs - the world's first custom adjustable earplug. Welcome back to another Hearing Matters Podcast. I'm your host, Blaise Delfino, and joining us today is Andrew Bellavia. Andrew Bellavia has experience in international sales, marketing, product management, and general management, and audio has been both of abiding interest and a market he served professionally in these roles. Andrew is also a hearing aid user and is incredibly active in the hearing healthcare community. Andrew, welcome to the Hearing Matters Podcast.

Andrew Bellavia (01:16):

Thank you. It's really a pleasure to be on. I've listened to so many of your podcasts that now it's great to be a part of it.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (01:22):

And Andrew, we've also stayed up to date with all of the amazing podcast projects and presentations you've given. And on behalf of the hearing healthcare industry, thank you for your passion because what you are doing is so amazing for not only the hearing care providers, but also hearing aid users as well.

Andrew Bellavia (01:42):

Oh, well, really thank you for that. That's been a passion of mine for some time, and I'm, I'm really glad you feel like I'm contributing.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (01:49):

Andrew, what's so amazing is we are celebrating World Hearing Day and we're celebrating World Hearing Day all week. Isn't that right?

Andrew Bellavia (01:58):

Yes. Yes. And I'm really looking forward to everything you're doing over the course of this week.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (02:03):

World Hearing Day is essentially every day for us, but not for the majority of the world. And we believe that World Hearing Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of hearing healthcare. And Andrew, before we dive into World Hearing Day, can you share a little bit about yourself with our listeners?

Andrew Bellavia (02:25):

Yes, I'd be glad to. Uh, as you mentioned, I've been in the audio industry in one form or another for almost my whole career as part of what I've done in my various roles. And then about 10 years ago, I joined Knowles, who many your listeners will know, the supplier of the, the balance armature receivers and microphones in hearing aids, also mobile phones and smart speakers and the like. And through my role there, I began to really immerse myself more deeply in the hearing care space. It was indirect at first because my role there was in what was then called the Hearing Health Tech Division. It's been renamed something since, uh, for everything that was not actually a prescription hearing aid, anything else that went in the ear but a hearing aid, was my responsibility. And what that meant in the beginning was a radio communications earpieces and also in ear monitors for musicians.


And so, as I became immersed in the in-ear Monitor space, I began to understand hearing health as it related to professional musicians and other people in the music industry, and how their hearing was affected and how little education there was around hearing issues in that space. And then right after that began true wireless earphones. And that was my business. I was involved in the very beginning. All the early people like Bragi, Aaron in Sweden mm-hmm. <affirmative> Doppler labs, and NuHeara who of course is still having great success today. But from there all the way. So I, I was there at the beginning when consumer companies were starting to address hearing and all the early work done to advocate for an over-the-counter hearing aid, uh, rule and so on. And this really then gave me a much deeper understanding of all the issues around hearing care and lack of hearing care access globally. And that only continued to build over time. And of course, I learned a lot about the prescription hearing aid industry by osmosis being in that group within Knowles. And it was, oh, about six years after I joined Knowles that I was fitted with hearing aids myself. So, that wasn't a direct part of my journey really, but it certainly helped informed it in ways I wouldn't have understood otherwise.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (04:45):

Andrew, thank you for articulating your background so well. I mean, you lived it <laugh>, right? So you had, you had that first class view of, of navigating throughout the audio industry in and of itself, and then found yourself wearing hearing technology. And if anyone understands the importance of wearing hearing technology and the importance of access to hearing healthcare, it's those who actually wear the technology. Celebrating World's Hearing Day, and we're celebrating all week, like we said - this year's theme is one that we both really appreciate, and this year's theme for World Hearing Day is "Ear and Hearing Care For All. Let's Make It a Reality." And really the overarching theme here is access. Andrew, tell us what "Ear and Hearing Care for All. Let's Make It a Reality," means to you.

Andrew Bellavia (05:40):

So, really, it, it means two different things to me. One is the need that the WHO's earlier figures state that there are 430 million people with hearing loss severe enough to affect their quality of life. And they estimate that will grow to about 700 million in 2050. So, one is the need, and related to that need is the economic impact. So they, their analysis shows that not hearing care directly, but all the other health issues and comorbidities that come with untreated hearing loss have an impact of $314 billion dollars globally. Wow. And they also assessed almost $200 billion dollars in loss productivity from people with untreated hearing loss, and $27 billion for educational support for children who have unaddressed hearing loss. Okay. Those are the direct tangible economic impacts. They also assess, uh, uh, an intangible societal impact of almost $500 billion. But even if you take the direct impact, it's about $500 billion dollars. Okay. And half of those costs are attributed to low and middle income countries where hearing care is very difficult to get. And so you're talking about places that cannot not afford this burden on the healthcare system. And for people whose economic impact can mean not being able to make a living wage because of the ill effects of untreated hearing loss. So, that's really a truly, truly global pandemic with severe consequences around the world.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (07:25):

Andrew, regarding the economic impact that untreated hearing loss can and does make, again, the need, we need to address this. And by addressing it, what we're doing is creating greater access to hearing healthcare and the word access. Well, what does that mean? Is it access to getting hearing aids? Is it access to getting hearing help? Is it access to cerumen management or earwax removal? So, understanding the global impact and the global economic impact this can make, where do we start? Because if we want ear in hearing care for all, and we wanna make it a reality, where can we start today? This week?

Andrew Bellavia (08:13):

Yeah. Let's, let's break that down a little bit. Okay. Because you think about hearing care, you think about audiologists mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. But we, we know even in Western countries, but especially on global basis, there's a very severe lack of audiologists. Now th-this is a little bit of older data, but the situation hasn't changed terribly. Uh, the WHO assess the number of audiologists in different countries. They had 57 countries in their survey. Okay. 34 of those countries had less than one audiologist per million people. Wow. And Yeah, exactly. Okay. Exactly. And, and then there's another suite that has somewhere between one in five audiologists per million people. So, the audiological model doesn't even work there. Right. I'll use, I'll use Honduras as an example because I've gone there four times, uh, for a different purpose unrelated to hearing to a rural part in Southern Honduras.


And there is best I can tell, one or two audiologists in the two largest cities, they're hours away driving from where we go. And where we go, even there are many people who live without electricity, for example. Hearing care is totally off the table, but there's a local health clinic, there's multiple local health clinics in the area. So, the place where you're going to engage with people on hearing care is not with an audiologist in a place like Honduras. It's going to be with the local doctors and clinicians in those local clinics nearby. Now, we, as you mentioned, there's a lot of different aspects to it. Now, the, the WHO in, in launching this program, they, they said that over 60% of hearing issues can be addressed at primary care level. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, these are things like cerumen management and infections and so on. Okay. Their current plan, you know, talks about referring out to hearing care specialists when they, you know, have a hearing loss issue per se, or an ENT, uh, which is something we also need to talk about. But the fact is, you, you can cover more than half of people's hearing issues at primary care level without a device. Okay. So that's like base level improvement right there, just by bringing hearing care services outside of hearing aid fittings and so on. But hearing management from the medical point of view to these local clinics mm-hmm.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (10:48):

<affirmative>, and that is, for lack of a better term, Andrew, that is huge, because over half of all hearing care problems can be identified and addressed at that primary level of care, which means that how, and this is the million dollar question, so how do we get started with this year's theme of World Hearing Day? It is our goal to raise awareness of specialists in the primary level of care. Is it education that we need to focus on, not only this week, not only World Hearing Day, but moving forward of educating these primary care physicians and, and individuals in the primary level of care? What is the first step towards ensuring that we address this problem?

Andrew Bellavia (11:36):

Well, you, you hit it. The, the, the WHO'S initiative is all about educating primary care people on hearing care and how they can manage it. They even have a, uh, they even developed with a HearX, an app-based hearing assessment that they can use. It's called, uh, WHO hear Pro, if I remember right. And so, so they're really working an education and also the tools that can be deployed globally in local clinics to assess, diagnose and treat hearing issues that they're capable of treating, and to refer out when they cannot.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (12:16):

And I think that's the golden word there, is to refer out to a hearing care professional, audiologist, hearing instrument specialist, ENT when it is needed. Because the fact that these challenges and these hearing problems can be identified and addressed at the primary level of care, that's a, that's a huge problem that can be solved. And I think that's also where the hearing healthcare professional comes into play of going out and educating their local physicians, maybe hosting a lunch and learn or something of that sort. Andrew, you've been in this space your entire career. What do, and what does the educational model look like to not only educate these individuals in the primary level of care, but how do we ensure then that we can create some traction to ensure that it is being addressed? So, it's not just World Hearing Day ear in hearing care for all, we have some traction for a month or two. How do we continue this education? What can hearing professionals do to ensure that they're consistently educating primary care physicians and things of that nature?

Andrew Bellavia (13:32):

Yeah. It's a different question in countries where hearing care professionals exist, and, and there are many people who've talked on this topic in much better than I can in terms of forming relationships with local healthcare professionals of other kinds. In other words, I've heard audiologists speak of how they formed relationships with local general practitioners, for example, so that they work collaboratively. A general practitioner would refer out when necessary to the hearing care professional and the hearing care professional when seeing other issues, uh, that are better addressed in the medical environment would refer back. Okay. That's the sort of thing that can take place in, you know, developed countries who have a network of hearing care professionals. But what about countries that don't have hearing care professionals? Who are the local clinicians gonna refer out to? Well, I think there's, there's an answer on a couple of levels there.


One is in countries that have at least some, even if they're centrally located in the larger city, you now have the remote diagnostic tools where you can actually then consult remotely with an ENT or hearing care professional. And there are a number of companies doing that sort of thing. Like, uh, shoebox, uh, HearX is doing it, Tympa Health out of the UK are doing it, where you can actually either have, uh, you know, an opinion from an ENT or hearing care professional afterwards, or even do it live online while you are in a remote clinic with these handheld tools. So, that's pretty exciting. But I also think there's another level too, which is a bit of an extension of what the WHO is aiming at, and that's how to get devices in people's ears when hearing care professionals don't exist. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Okay.


I mean, there, there are, there are some, uh, efforts to do that. For example, uh, there was, uh, in December, uh, this week in hearing podcast where Amin Longley, uh, interviewed Antonio Esteban, he's working in the Dominican Republic, and he described ho he as kind of a sliding scale practice, right. Where people who can afford it will pay for their devices, and he's also fitting people gratis if they can't afford it with support from the Starkey Hearing Foundation. And he just raved about the kind of not only device support, but all the after support necessary to keep people in their devices, uh, that the Starke Hearing Foundation was doing. He just had nothing but really good things to say. He's fitted thousands of people this way. Yeah, that's great. But that's thousands when we need millions of, we need millions of millions and hundreds of millions <laugh>.


So this is, this is terrific stuff, really terrific stuff, but I don't think it will ever solve the problem that way to individuals and NGOs and the like. Okay. So I think we have to look a little bit on the device provision model in places like rural Honduras, if I can use that as an example. Yeah. And this is, this is what makes me most excited about Over to Counter, it's a different story in the United States than it is in a place like Honduras, because we think about hearing care here, and we have, you know, what we consider a gold standard of care, and it really works. I've gone through the process myself, okay. And I know how well that works. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I'm lucky to be able to do that. But if you are in an underserved place, a 70% solution is better than a 0% solution.


And what I could see is an outgrowth of the over to counter hearing aids being developed for the US are devices specifically aimed at underserved areas mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and they're going to be lower cost devices. They're not gonna have all the bells and whistles. Uh, but I can also tell you, for example, a person in rural Honduras, they're more concerned about being able to hear in daily life than, uh, than the performance in a loud restaurant. Okay? Sure. Okay. Absolutely. So, so you have to think about devices aimed at that, and that can be effectively deployed through the local clinics. I mean, self fitting is rather off the table in this environment. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, the person will need assistance getting fit. The person will need, uh, training on how to use the device and how to keep it clean. And they're going to have to be able to go back to the clinic, you know, even for wax removal and this sort of thing to keep them going.


Okay. But that's entirely possible. I can imagine, you know, uh, what we would call a self-fit device here would be a clinician fit device there. And so this is the kind of, uh, you know, outgrowth of over to counter hearing aids. And I think it's quite possible when I look at what's going on in true wireless earphones today, for example, India, which is, you know, has a large rural underserved population. There's a large earphone company there are called Boat who sells true wireless earphones. Their lowest model is 15 US dollars. Okay. Even in the US there's jlab, which by, by number of units shipped is one of the top 10 true wireless earphone companies, and their base model is about 30 US dollars, and sometimes they put it on sale for 15 also. So, this is really possible. And, and Jlab gets it because at CES, they just unrolled their whole hearing platform with, uh, hearing protection devices, uh, with educational materials. And they announced two over the counter devices, and they announced that from this point forward, all their earphones will have a listening safe mode. So,

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (19:16):

Oh, that's great.

Andrew Bellavia (19:17):

The whole infrastructure between the mobile diagnostic tools and devices are coming together so that you can actually now add devices to the list. Now, that's not gonna work for everybody. You know, by the time you pass moderate into, you know, steeply severe and profound hearing loss, you're going to need more attentive care with a hearing care professional, but you're gonna cut the bottom two thirds of that pyramid off with devices that could be fit locally in the health clinics on cost effective basis. That's what really excites me about all this.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (19:53):

Our conversation right now is getting me super excited because when we talk about access to hearing healthcare, and even before you and I started this conversation today, we were talking before we hopped online access - living in the United States, we're so used to just picking up the phone and saying, I need to schedule an appointment, whether it be a dermatologist, audiologist, whoever, like we have access to these specialties. But again, countries that are underdeveloped, OTC for the underdeveloped countries could be that solution. Now, of course, if they present with this severe to profound hearing loss and they need more care communication strategies, absolutely. But to your point, we're talking about these underdeveloped countries that need the care. When we talk about the Starkey Hearing Foundation, Starkey in general, so the world may hear, we are now in a day and age where we are able to connect virtually. I mean, look at us right now. We're recording a podcast, and we're both remote. The fact that we have the technology today to connect a individual who may reside in an underdeveloped country with a specialist to talk about their communication deficits and their hearing loss, that is some groundbreaking stuff, my friend. That is super exciting.

Andrew Bellavia (21:14):

Absolutely. I agree with you a hundred percent. And I want to add the educational component to it too, because if I take the WHO's figure, since we're talking about World Hearing Day, they assess that 1.1 billion people are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss, which is my story, by the way. That's totally a lack of education. Okay? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, lots of loud live music venues listening to the radio too loud, you know, growing up with earphones, you know, going back to the Sony Walkman, you know, through, uh, downloading my MP3s with Napster, and you know, the whole thing, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so when you talk about noise-induced hearing loss, and the effect is not only do we have 400 plus billion people who are debilitated by hearing loss, now we're on the verge of creating another billion people with the same problem. And so education is hugely important. And the best place to deliver education on safe listening and how to protect your hearing, whether it's from music or it's your work setting, you know, to be able to educate people and perhaps even provision hearing protection devices, uh, is going to be that local clinic or primary care physician around the world. That's where people interface with the medical community. So, it's equally important that that's going to be a venue for hearing loss prevention issues, uh, and, uh, hearing conservation education through that channel will be more effective.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (22:46):

It really does come down to education being this foundation. It really is. So, not only educating those in the healthcare space, and not only educating the residents in some of these underdeveloped countries, but also educating decision makers in governments and civil society groups towards WHO's recommendations regarding integration of ear and hearing care into PHC. We have an opportunity here not only today, not only World Hearing Day, but in the future, to continue to educate elected officials. How important is that to then get the message out to their residents? I mean, that's, that's so important.

Andrew Bellavia (23:33):

Oh, that's extremely important. And that's really where, where the WHO with all their boots on the ground can have a real impact. Because I, I like what they're doing, because they can put solid numbers to this. Yes. Okay. You're talking about a place with an overburdened healthcare system and, and you know what place isn't. Uh, but you know, some really, so, uh, the fact is, is that you can trace untreated hearing loss to a number, to a burden on the healthcare system through all the comorbidities, through the loss of productivity, which then places additional burdens on the social welfare system of those countries. The WHO has the numbers, of course, whenever you're, whenever you're trying to advocate at national government level, there's a whole suite of issues that can make that more or less successful, depending on which country you're talking about.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (24:27):

Could be a little difficult. <laugh>. It's not, it

Andrew Bellavia (24:29):

Could be a little bit difficult. It's not an easy task reasons, right, <laugh>. But the fact is, is they can point to hard economic benefits or deploying hearing treatment through the local care practices in clinics. Okay. And so I have to be optimistic that this initiative by the WHO is gonna have a positive effect. Absolutely.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (24:50):

And not only this week, Andrew, are we banning together - not only you and me and hearing matters podcast, and, you know, the, the Dave Kemps and the Abram Baileys and Stephen Taddeis, and all of these amazing key opinion leaders in the hearing healthcare industry. We have an opportunity to raise awareness and to create greater access to ensure though that patient safety and satisfaction remains at the forefront. That's number one. But now also, we have an opportunity here to not only educate elected officials, but individuals as well. And if we understand the fact that as human beings, right now, you and I are communicating and communication is the exchange of ideas. You and I communicate using the English language and language is a code in which ideas are shared. And then speech is a neuromuscular process. So, we have all of these things going and, and you have receptive language skills. So, you're processing what I'm saying and, and listening to understand, but also respond. Now, put a hearing loss on top of that. So, when a patient presents with hearing loss, their ability to understand speech, not only in quiet, but also in noisy situations will be impaired. So, if we're able to create greater access to hearing healthcare, to being treated maybe for ear infection and cerumen management, but also treating hearing loss, imagine what that does not only to that country, but to the world in general.

Andrew Bellavia (26:26):

Yeah. You know, you revealed your background as a speech language pathologist, <laugh> in the language you used just there, right? And so, yeah, I wanna dive into that a little bit. I mean, briefly, I wanna quote Nina Kraus. Uh, you've probably seen this book, great book, absolutely a great book. And she wrote this just I'm gonna quote here. She's talking about the relationship between hearing and reading. Okay. Especially in children. And she says, here, "We learn what we pay attention to the children who had the teacher's voice delivered" - And she talking about using, uh, listening devices to sure. Children with hearing loss or other auditory processing issues. "We learn what we pay attention to. The children who had the teacher's voice delivered directly to their ears with clarity and adequate volume could attend to the lesson better. They could spend more time thinking about the concepts of the lesson instead of figuring out what to pay attention to or which words were spoken."


Now, I've, uh, presented a study in a couple of different presentations. I'm going to quote it here. This study, what they did was they took a group of people with hearing loss and a group of people with nominal hearing, and they gave them the Hopkins verbal learning test. And so what they did was actually first they did a visual form of this test, which involves learning a list of words, and then, uh, recalling them after 20 or 25 minutes. So, they did it visually as a control, and everybody did pretty well on their scale. And I don't know how the scale works, but they're in around eight or nine on the scale. Okay? Then they did it with sound. So, they're playing the words now, the people with, and people with hearing loss had their devices out. Okay? So people with untreated hearing loss scored a four on this recall test, whereas people without hearing loss scored near to eight.


Now, the interesting thing they did was they reversed it. They corrected the hearing loss of the people who had it, and then, you know, through equalization of the audio, they simulated hearing loss for the people who didn't. And it was completely reversed. The scores are reversed. The people with hearing loss corrected scored near to eight, and the people without hearing loss who had hearing loss simulated scored near to four. Okay. So just exactly what you said, if you have untreated hearing loss, it means you, you are less attentive, less engaged, less able to participate. And that doesn't matter what we're talking about. It's, it's about your relationships. It's about the educational environment. It's about your work environment and your ability to be productive in the work setting by communicating with other people and being able to understand other people, and to be able to internalize and engage with what you just heard. It's critically important. It's actually the thing I learned when I got fitted. I never like to, to hear it and to experience it are different things because I was in my Knowles days traveling internationally constantly. You know, I had the fat passport filled, filled up with stamps.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (29:39):

You've hit your million miles, haven't you? Andrew?

Andrew Bellavia (29:42):

<laugh>, <laugh> on two airlines. Oh, man. You know, um, and, and, and so China was the place I learned this lesson because I don't speak Mandarin. So as I'm traveling through China, a lot of people are speaking English with their different dialects and accents and with varying levels. And I would do a two week trip to China. Meetings all day, go out to dinner with a customer or business partner in the evening. By the end of the two weeks, I was washed up. Yep, yep. I would go home and sleep for 10 hours. And that was just part and parcel. I mean, I would just power through, you know. The first time I did one of those trips after getting fitted with my hearing aids, I felt five times better.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (30:26):

Isn't that interesting?

Andrew Bellavia (30:26):

I was amazed at how much more energy I had at the end of it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> now, like I'm a go, go, go kind of person. So I just like went, went, went. But I have to believe by the end of those trips, I was not as attentive as I could have been, simply because I was being worn out. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. And so now you take a, you take a person who continues to not treat their hearing loss, and it gets worse and worse in their daily environment. They are truly suffering. And it happens so gradually you don't realize it. I had no idea. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I had no idea until the next time I went with my devices in

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (31:03):

Listening fatigue.

Andrew Bellavia (31:03):

How much better. The listening fatigue was amazing. I had, I honestly never thought of it that way because it was a very gradual process. But the minute I popped the devices in and did a trip like that, the difference was absolutely amazing. That's why it's so important that we address this globally, because there are many people whom are really impacted by this. Whether it, whether they're a student learning, whether they're a person trying to work and earn a living for themselves and their family. It doesn't matter, you know, in their relationships. This is an issue that has to be addressed, or they suffer right then and there. And then they also suffer all the comorbidities that come with long-term hearing loss unaddressed.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (31:50):

And when we mention comorbidities to name a few untreated hearing loss is linked to cognitive decline or dementia of the Alzheimer's type. Individuals with untreated hearing loss are at a greater risk of increased falling, anxiety, depression, the list goes on. That is number one for overall health and well-being, that's where hearing healthcare can really help these individuals even prevent that from happening of addressing your hearing, keeping the residual hearing that you do have and, and hashtag safe listening. In celebration of World Hearing Day, and we're celebrating all week, as we've been saying, Aura Futurity - Hearing the Future. Share with us this company that you started, what is the vision? What is the mission? How can we continue to raise awareness of hearing healthcare through your platform?

Andrew Bellavia (32:50):

Yeah. Thanks for giving the opportunity to share, because it's really part and parcel with my passion for this space, because there's so much innovation going on in this space, and not hearing is my primary focus, but broader communication as well. Quite simply, there's so much innovation going on in this space, and I wanted to create a platform where I can help those innovators go to market, allow their solutions to become successful, and improve hearing and communication's ability for people wherever they're at and whatever their issue is. It's really an agency that focuses on branding and go to market in this space.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (33:31):

And how important is that? Because there's, there's a lot of players in this space and to have a strong, this is a whole other conversation we'll have, we'll have you back on Andrew, to talk about the importance. We'd love to of go-to-market strategies, but how important is it to, to celebrate World's hearing day accessibility for companies, not only current companies, but companies that are going to enter this space? How important, Andrew, is the "why" behind a go-to-market strategy, because that really does align with access, um, and to the theme of World Hearing Day. How important is the why? Why you do what you do as a company?

Andrew Bellavia (34:14):

Yeah. So the "why" is very, very important because really the core of my belief is that to address hearing loss on global basis is to improve people's lives in very meaningful ways. Hmm. Okay. To improve their relationships and to improve the way they work and learn. Okay. When you think about how many industries are in the same place hearing health is right now. So, if I take that 430 million people, okay. With debilitating hearing loss, we're shipping what, 20 million hearing aids annually. So that's 10 million people annually, say five years life of a hearing aid. Okay? So, at any given time, there are 50 million people walking around with devices against a 430 million, billion person need. Okay. It's nothing. Yeah. It's nothing.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (35:12):

We haven't scratched the surface.

Andrew Bellavia (35:14):

There are very few industries that, that are happy servicing a small fraction of the total population who could use their, you know, service or device. Okay. And so this is really what we have to address. The hearing care industry's been working the tip of the iceberg and working it very well. I'm a, a testament to that. I would never hear as well as I do now without the devices I'm wearing and the ongoing care from a hearing professional, no doubt about it, tip of the iceberg. Okay, now we have to get further and further down. Okay? Work our way down that iceberg or down that pyramid. If I can mix my metaphors <laugh> in a public podcast, um, you know, we've gotta work our way further down. And that takes innovative thinking in delivery, takes innovative thinking and diagnostic tools, and it takes innovative thinking and devices. And to the extent that can, I can assist those innovators to deploy effective solutions. That's what I'm all about.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (36:19):

Well, you heard it from the founder himself, Andrew Bellavia of Aura Futurity. We talked all things World Hearing Day. We are celebrating World Hearing Day all week. Andrew, in closing, do you have any closing remarks to our listeners tuned in? How important is "Ear And Hearing Care for All. Let's Make It A Reality."

Andrew Bellavia (36:43):

Well, really, I think I can summarize what's been the thread of yours and my discussion this whole time. And that is hearing care is one of those hidden disabilities that because you don't see it, you don't realize how prevalent it is, you don't realize what the personal and societal costs are, and yet it's really a global pandemic that needs to be addressed. And hats off to the WHO for putting such a systematic process in place to do that.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (37:13):

Agreed. Andrew, thank you so much for joining us today on the Hearing Matters Podcast.

Andrew Bellavia (37:17):

It was a pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.

Blaise Delfino, M.S. - HIS (37:19):

You're tuned in to The Hearing Matters Podcast. The show that discusses hearing technology, best practices, and a global epidemic: Hearing Loss. Today, we had Andrew Bellavia. He is a hearing healthcare advocate, incredible individual, and an innovator in the hearing healthcare industry. For more information and to connect with Andrew, visit AuraFuturity.com. We will put that website in the show notes. And until next time, Hear Life's Story.