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031 – Kyle Acker – The Appreciating Value of Today’s Hearing Aids

Today’s episode of the Future Ear Radio podcast features Kyle Acker, Executive Vice President at RiseENT. Prior to helping launch RiseENT (a division of AudConnex), Kyle worked at American hearing aid manufacturer, Starkey Hearing Technologies, for more than 10 years. He’s spent time as a clinician, a sales trainer, a sales director, and knows the audiology industry very well. I thought it would be fun to have Kyle on the podcast to talk about his professional journey, how this industry can adapt and thrive during the disruption it’s facing, and the innovation transpiring with today’s hearing aids.

Our conversation kicks off with Kyle sharing the story of how he ended up at RiseENT. That journey includes a job at a semiconductor company, working in a role based around hearing conservation within an industrial setting, and then ultimately at Starkey before joining Rise. This meandering road through various subsets of the audiological industry, along with his passion for technology, gives him a unique perspective about what’s been transpiring this past 15 years and where some of the opportunity lies for hearing care professionals.

As we discuss, as an industry, we’re currently undergoing a lot of change, both in terms of the delivery model (which is being exacerbated by COVID-19), and also in terms of the type of technology this industry sells and services. On one hand, these represent challenges and uncomfortable amounts of change. The pace of change can be disjointing and a lot to take on at once. On the other hand, you can perceive the change transpiring as a massive wave of opportunity. We agree that it’s more productive to focus on the opportunities and how to best capitalize on them.

Tele-health has undoubtedly become more important in light of the pandemic, and while it’s not a silver bullet or a perfect solution, it might still be in the providers best interest to use this time to get comfortable with it. The same goes for all the new use cases that are beginning to surface that today’s hearing aids are capable of supporting. We might not have full-on biometric sensing capabilities today, but many signs are pointing toward biometric monitoring being an increasingly important aspect to hearing aids moving forward. The ear truly is some of the best “real-estate” on the body. Just look at how Apple, Google, Samsung, Amazon, etc are jockeying for our ears. There’s a reason these trillion dollar companies want access.

As we talk about, It’s probably not a bad idea to ingrain oneself with these changes, as they can be used to further differentiate ones services and value. Adapt and thrive.

On a personal note, I first met Kyle at an industry trade show about three ears ago, roughly right after I had launched Future Ear. He was one of the first people within the industry to tell me in person that he was reading my material and encourage me to keep going. That support and the knowledge that industry people were actually reading my articles meant a lot to me. So, it’s cool that Future Ear has grown into the podcast + blog format that it’s in today, and I can bring on one of my earliest supporters as a guest to help continue moving the ball forward. Never underestimate how much a little bit of support can go for someone, especially if they’re young and just starting out.

-Thanks for Reading-
Dave

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