The company offers its own hearing aids, while also providing in-home and telehealth care
In 2019, 13% of US adults had some difficulty hearing even when using a hearing aid and 1.6% either had a lot of difficulty hearing or could not hear at all. In addition, 7.1% of adults aged 45 and over used a hearing aid. Yet, many of them run into barriers when it comes to care, the biggest being cost, along issues in terms of with access and convenience, as well as education and awareness.
“From affordability to even just being able to physically get into a clinic and beyond, there are a zillion reasons why general access is a barrier to many individuals,” said Sam Shear, founder and CEO of Yes Hearing, a provider of hearing technology and audiology care, which recently raised a $10 million Series A financing round.
“Riding on the heels of access, the nature of hearing loss is gradual, and can go years without discovery, as illustrated by the seven year time frame it typically takes someone to actually get a hearing aid.”
Yes Hearing solves these problems by being providing patients with both hardware and software: it designs its own hearing aids while also giving them access to in-home and telehealth audiology services through a network of more than 500 audiologists and hearing care specialists.
Patients can book a free phone consultation with a Specialist, or find a product with the company’s virtual product finder; they can receive a personalized recommendation based on their lifestyle, budget, and the nature of their hearing loss. Once they’ve selected their new hearing aids, they are hand-delivered by a Yes Specialist, where the patient’s hearing will be tested, new devices programmed, and fit to their exact specifications. Afterward, Specialists will keep in regular contact with the patient, checking in to see how they are, and finding out if they need help.
Through its solution, the company is able to bridge the gap between the need for care and the access to in-home healthcare, Shear explained.
“From a standpoint of overcoming cost barriers, stigmas, and objections, we’ve designed the business model in such a way that we’re able to offer consumers major savings on both the product and the professional care components,” he said.
The company is able to save patients an average of 40%, which is typically about $,3000, through relationships with the major hearing aid technology companies, as well as its mobile network, which allows it to pass discounts on technology to the patients.
In addition, because of its in-home and telehealth capabilities, Yes Hearing is able to meet patients where they already are and in their hime, where quality of life matters most.
“There are deep advantages of being in the home, where we can test natural sounds and hearing experiences — soundproof chambers are not necessarily representative of real-world hearing scenarios, and we want to make sure that the individual is as set up for success as possible,” said Shear.
Finally, from the education and awareness standpoint, Shear explained that Yes Hearing is doing everything it can to ensure that our patients are set up for success with both their physical hearing technology and their access to professional care.
It was important for Yes Hearing to have both a hardware and a software platform because the company believes none of the above mentioned barriers are mutually exclusive, and that they all play their part into overall hearing technology and care adoption, and, ultimately, success in hearing patient outcomes.
“Simply buying a hearing aid does not mean successful use or outcome, which is why it’s always been important to us to have an end-to-end solution that solves for each one of the barriers,” said Shear.
“Hearing aids are really only half of the battle: hearing care is so much more than that. Yes Hearing offers an in-home service that provides the knowledge and counseling required to increase the actual usage of hearing aids. This leads to long-term health benefits beyond just hearing, including communication, mobility, dementia prevention and more.”
The new funding round was led by Blue Heron Capital, with participation from Primetime Partners, Ensemble Innovation Ventures, Maccabee Ventures & Gaingels. The company plans to use the money to build out its team, which currently consists of more than 35 people, and to continue to build out the product with expanded direct-to-consumer operations and a proprietary home care technology platform.
In conjunction with its funding, Yes Hearing also added Todd Walrath, CEO of HomeCare.com and ShiftMed, to its Board of Directors.
“Todd brings a wealth of experience in home-based care, and a ton of insight as to how care is and SHOULD be experienced in the home. Not only will he be crucial in helping to drive Yes’ growth overall, he’s also going to be crucial when it comes to developing partnerships with payers, providers, organizations, and large-scale healthcare groups,” said Shear.
The idea behind Yes is personal: the company was born after Shear’s grandparents began to experience profound hearing loss in 2018; this experience made him realize how isolating hearing loss can be, and that hearing loss is both a catalyst to and a window into other areas of declining health, including
“It not just brings things like dementia to the surface, but it can worsen overall cognitive decline, depression, and mobility issues, also increasing personal safety risks,” he said.
“Our ultimate mission is to support happy, healthy, and safe aging-in-place, providing a solution that can help support long-term health benefits beyond just hearing, including communication, mobility, dementia prevention and more.”
(Image source: yeshearing.com)