After our positive preliminary evaluation of Starkey’s new 3 Series hearing aid models we let the consumer weigh in with a field study.
Gardner Audiology is a 33 year old hearing healthcare company that is focused on measuring consumer outcomes with new hearing aid technology. Since 2007 we have loaned new hearing aids to over 3500 Tampa Bay hearing aid candidates in exchange for their opinion.
Overview of Study Methods
Anyone who was a candidate for hearing aids was offered free exam, follow up care, and the loan of 3 Series Starkey brand hearing aids in exchange for their opinion. They could choose to wear the i20, i70, 110, or i110 model. All services were provided by audiologists with advanced university degrees. Objective outcomes were verified with live speech mapping. Participants completed a pre fitting questionnaire at the time of fit and a post fitting at the end of 30 day field study. At the end of 30 days they could return their study aids or purchase them.
We collected data from 194 new and experienced hearing aid users.
Most all of the participants, both experienced and new users, reported improved hearing with all models of the 3 Series, especially in noisy environments. The 110 and i110 models delivered the best performance with a 67% improvement of speech understanding in noise. The 70 model, a midlevel performer, came is second with a 60% rating. As always there were deviations from the average. We were surprised that some participants who wore 110 models went from 20% to a 90% speech understanding in noise.
During this 9 month study audiologists and their assistants met weekly to share patient comments. Those participants who compared both the 70 and 110 models consistently stated that the premium 110 model sounded more natural than the 70 model.
Seventy five percent of the 3 Series field study participants chose to purchase their loaner hearing aids instead of return them. By the end of this study, twice as many 110 models were purchased than the other models. Compared to previous research studies this is a significant increase. In the past only 65% of participants chose to buy their study aids.
As audiologists we appreciated that we had no problems with acoustic feedback (squealing, screeching sounds) when fitting the Starkey 3 Series hearing aids. Due to the watertight design we had no service problems caused by perspiration and Florida humidity. Significantly more study participants chose to buy their 3 Series loaner aids based on natural sound quality and increased speech understanding in noise. This trend validates the benefit of Starkey’s 3 Series technology.