Welcome and this is Ask The Hearing Doctors. I'm Dr. Jenna Valania, one of the audiologists at Hearing Doctors. Hearing Doctors is Washington DC Metro area's highest-rated audiology practice with over 1500, five-star reviews. Today I'm joined by Reuben Zielinski the President and co-Founder of Redux and Matt Hay the Director of Audiology Sales. Gentlemen welcome to our show today.
I'm going to start by just a quick question, what is this box that we have sitting right here?
I'll go ahead and take that, so Redux is a professional, in-office drying system. And a lot of times people in this industry when you hear the word “dryer” they think you know, they think they know what you mean. We're not a traditional dryer. This is not a hot air fan. We have patented technology that will remove all moisture from a hearing aid in about eight minutes with real-time data verification. So, it's really an entirely different category than what you might think of when you think of an at-home dryer.
Wonderful. I'll just add to that. I sort of referred to it as an ultra-efficient evaporator. And Matt’s exactly right, it removes all the moisture. But think of it if there's moisture caught in a hearing aid or sealed up in a hearing aid, our dryer changes the water to gas or vapor, and it allows it to get out of the small cracks and crevices of hearing aid. So, no moisture can retain can be retained inside any electronic device in this.
That's awesome. I mean we talk to our patients day in and day out about moisture, whether it's the summertime, wintertime, all that. What are some ways that moisture can get built up in a hearing aid?
So, I think the misconception is you know I wore it in the shower, I need to get it dried. Um it actually is all states of matter solid, liquid, or gas. Um the liquid, because yeah maybe you did wear it in the shower, so it's certainly going to get wet that way. Um the gas, you know maybe there's uh humidity in the air. But then the misconception is, well do I only need this in August in Miami? And that's not accurate either because the solid, which is your ear. Uh you think about your ear. If my hearing aids stopped working and my audiologist said, well you know what did you do with it? And I said, well I keep it in a wet you know towel for 18 hours a day and I make sure that it stays hot, and it doesn't get any airflow. And if I told you that you'd be like well, I know what's wrong with your hearing aid. But that's exactly what your ear is. It's a really terrible environment to keep the hearing aid in. And what happens in there is condensation. You put a hearing aid that is 75 degrees into a 98.6 degree environment and the moisture on it condenses just like a glass of water when you fill it with ice and put it on the table. So, it's really a perfect storm of moisture getting there in in the form of a solid, a liquid, and a gas.
How do you know that your hearing aid may be affected by moisture? I always tell people my longest running joke is, if you get in your shower and you hear your shower louder than you heard your shower before you should get out of the shower. But what we sometimes don't touch on on what are you looking for the day after, a couple days after when you have that moisture exposure?
Can I jump it on this one Matt? So, uh we see this often with people wearing AirPods, they're cranking their volume all the way up. So, the first indication is do you have to crank your volume up on your hearing aid? Second indication is if it's Bluetooth enabled do you lose connection? Do you hear crackling? Do you hear popping? Are the S's and T's and you know what are the letters not sharp enough? That's a clear indication. If your batteries are are being reduced or drained faster. That's a clear indication that there's water or moisture either in your receiver and in the body of the hearing aids. So that's what we look for. That's what you should look for. Matt.
So, um so I've been deaf for 20 years. So, leading up to that I've worn progressively larger hearing aids up to an implant now. And the only consistency in all of my aids has been I've loved them, and they always get wet. And so, what I have learned in working with Redux is, I was not I wasn't treating my hearing aids as well as I thought. Because I was being very reactive. If I noticed a problem, I would have it dried or take it in to get it get it worked on. Because everything we run through here is very, very data driven, we know that you were removing moisture from 98 percent of all aids. But what was compelling was that 80 percent of the time that a patient came in and said my hearing aid sounds fine, it's fine. Eighty percent of the time after they ran it through Redux, they said it sounds better. So that was a pretty significant data point because it says that using or putting your hearing aid in a dryer doesn't need to be reactive it should be proactive. You know Reuben's a car guy, you don't wait until your engine starts making noises or maybe has trouble starting before you change the oil. Right. You monitor it every 3000 miles and the hearing aid shouldn't be any different. It's a significant expense, it's a significant um you know layout of money to not take the kind of care that you probably should. To bring it into an office like yours that has invested in Redux it takes what eight minutes.
So, tell me a little bit about what patients would expect when their hearing aids come in? So, they give our office a call saying I'm coming in for my routine maintenance of my hearing aid check. We have patients come in every six months for what we call a clean and check appointment and then annually for a hearing test. But even if you are new to our practice and you have hearing aids or you're new to the area and you have hearing aids, what walk us through what does a patient expect from start to finish with this product? How does it work?
Usually, the patient appointments are 15 minutes. So, we we our goal was to have this dried in less than 15 minutes. Now that's not always the case, because if someone walks into a shower or jumps in a swimming pool you know it might be really, really laden with water. It might take 30 or 40 minutes to dry all that water out, it runs until it's dry. But normally eight to nine minutes it's dry. We even got a rapid mode on this, and we could dry in four minutes. I would expect, I don't run the audiologist's office, but I would expect, that when you come in um you would Redux it. You would want to get that hearing aid as dry as possible before the professional audiologist took a look at it. And that would take you eight minutes, four to eight minutes say. And the next step would be okay, does it sound better? And uh maybe you do the cleaning, the wax and the sebum is much easier to come off it then. And uh it's I guess whatever you would do with the analysis after.
Wonderful. So, does it make a difference whether our patients have a fully in-the-ear hearing aid versus an over-the-ear hearing aid? And what about a rechargeable battery?
So, uh I actually have an auditory brainstem implant. So, it's kind of the far end of the spectrum of of hearing devices. And it's perfectly safe for that, all the way down to an infant mold of an in-the-canal aid. So, there's uh we joke if it, if you can fit it in there, we're going to take the water out. You know there's some questions in about what's going to happen in in the industry with over-the-counter or growing hearable market. Uh there's a broad spectrum of those out there but one thing they all have in common is if if a big five manufacturer hearing aid gets wet, I know that the over-the-counter aids are going to get wet. It's an opportunity to reach out to those people and say you know it we you don't get 1500 reviews without being patient focused. Reach out to the people of the community and say you know I don't care if you bought your aids from me or not, bring them in we'll run them through Redux and while they're doing that let me give you a hearing aid evaluation. Or let's talk about what options we we can offer you that might better serve you than what you have just told me you bought six weeks ago and it's already crackling or being intermittent.
So, Jenna you mentioned rechargeable. So, we spent a lot of time on this because we were trying to follow the industry. Industry, some of the manufacturers recommended 113 degrees farenheight, some recommended 115. We have Lithium-ion batteries, rechargeable batteries, no one wants to get it above 99 degrees. So, we have two modes in our dryer. Rechargeable and non-rechargeable. We don't charge the device. We just if you have a rechargeable hearing aid, we limit the platen temperature to 99 degrees. It's 98.5 plus or minus half degree. On a non-rechargeable it's 113 degrees. Those are industry specifications that uh the industry I don't think is quite aligned because the manufacturers spec it a different way, but we wanted to be agnostic to all hearing aids so we chose those those two temperatures.
Okay, that's wonderful. And something else, speaking on the lines of numbers. One of my, I'm a curious audiologist, I like to know what's going on with my patients' devices. So, I see on this screen when the drying is when the hearing is being Reduxed, I see this number pop up. Why is it important to know how much moisture is removed from a hearing aid and can you explain that a little bit more?
So, before I came to work with these guys, I knew I knew at home dryers. Um I didn't really know what my outcome was with them. If my hearing aid got dry, was it correlation, causation? I think everybody should have a home dryer because you're never gonna regret trying to keep your hearing aid dry. Um we're not in the business of trying to eliminate at-home dryers. If anything, we help sell more because you can show what a patient is doing. But we made a commitment early on that we were going to be very, very data focused. Because I think audiologists can agree that moisture was/ is a major problem. But there was no data. There was no data. If you look in the Hearing Review or the Hearing Journal, there's just not been anything about moisture. So, we saw this as an opportunity to provide a solution for a big problem. And we made a commitment that it was going to be data backed. So, when we launched for the first two years there was a check-in and checkout screen. What was the condition of the aid before it was treated? And did we improve it? Because of that we know we remove moisture from 98 percent of aids. We recover 50 percent of dead aids. Eighty, we improve 80 percent of aids the patient said was good. Our average run time has been 8 minutes and 40 seconds. But even more importantly is what is it doing? What's happening in there?
So that screen that you mentioned shows to the tenth of a microliter. Which is about the size of the tip of a pencil, exactly how much moisture is coming out. Because now if you're you charge for a patient, you charge a patient if you choose to to run Redux or run their aid through Redux, you can give them a sheet that says here this is what we did. So not only do you know that it sounds better, not only do you know you got the moisture kind of came out, but you know exactly how much. So, when I went to work for these guys, they they recovered my implant and they said, hey we took out nine microliters. I'm like that's great and then I pretend like I have any idea what a microliter is. And so, we we just did some quick math and compared the volume of a microliter to a volume of an in-the-canal aid. And in one microliter which is a tiny amount of moisture is the equivalent of three bathtubs in an average home. So, if you have a patient come in and you take out 0.9 microliters and they might think what what did that do for me? Well, if the plumber came and said I took three bathtubs of water out of your basement I I think that helped a marketing mind like me understand what the engineers were trying to tell tell me, which is it only takes a tiny amount of moisture to have a significant impact on an aid.
When we bridged from going from mobile phone drying in large mobile phone retail stores to jumping into this audiology and hearing care profession, I insisted it be data driven. And so, one of the things we're trying to do is all right, what how much water will, will make a difference in a hearing aid? And so, we bought a Verifit hearing aid tester and we actually metered out, measured out, weighed out and put water, various amounts of water in receivers just to see what that would do and in hearing aids. And we actually have detailed procedures how we do this now. And we found that uh just a half a microliter of water, in the right spot in a receiver will attenuate at 30 db. So that moderate, mild to moderate hearing loss Jenna, is 30 35 db. So, you're basically making an ear plug with just a half a microliter of water or perspiration. Really.
It doesn't take much. It doesn't take much. And that's what while l I was sitting in you know, I sat there for the whole you know nine minutes that it was going just to watch that number go up and up. Because I have a lot of patients, a lot of our patients have those IIC devices, those really, really tiny ones. And the way you describe that with that moisture of no I didn't just wrap my hearing aid in a towel for 18 hours and hope for the best. That's what we're doing every day with our ears. So, it is really important for our patients to realize that moisture is everywhere. Whether it is the dead of winter in the DC metro area or the heat of summer when it's swampy when you walk outside. Sure. That has little to no relevance almost on how moisture can build up in the hearing aid. So, it's really nice to have a product that our patients can appreciate and to extend the life of a hearing aid.
Can you talk a little bit more about what happened when your implant um needed to be Reduxed? And how did that impact you?
It’s sort of a bit of, meeting Reuben and the Redux guys, was a bit of serendipity. Uh I was skiing in Michigan and I'm not a very good skier, so I spent a lot of time in the snow. And one of those times my implant ended up in the snow and I couldn't find it. About a half hour later I came out and it was I mean just frozen, water droplets. I I knew it wasn't gonna work um and it didn't, so I also knew when I went back to the hotel and put it in rice that that wasn't gonna work and it didn't. Uh we got back three days later, and a friend said you know this company that's in in Indianapolis, where I live, that does, that's drying cell phones and uh they might be able to help. I knew they couldn't because I have, I've had multiple I, my hearing aids get wet. And so, I knew a lot about hearing aid dryers, and I knew that they were okay, I guess. Um and I thought well that's the downside because my hearing in my implants not working. My other option was go pay a copay, pay to park, meet with my audiology team, which is in a hospital. Send it back to Cochlear, wait a week, and then repeat it all over again and have it mapped. I mean hours of my time and tens, twenty dollars each time I go do that. Plus, the cost to send it back I think was 250 bucks. And so, I went and met these guys on the off chance and 12 minutes later I put my implant on and I walked in the office and we hardly even said hello. We put it in there, closed the lid, hit start and 12 minutes later I didn't like the way it sounded. Because I could hear the fan uh from the heater running over my head, that I couldn't hear when I walked into that room. That I there was just too much sound happening. When I walked out, I could hear the the edges of my pants rubbing against each other. My my implant hadn't sounded as good as it had then in probably a year because of that slow build-up of moisture. So, I I ended up hearing better than I had before I had gone skiing. Um and and then I told Reuben this is the only problem I've ever had with hearing aids. Um I I want to be a part of this. And uh you know one of the reasons I think we both like our job so much is how often do you get to very, you know, genuinely say we help people hear better every day. And we're about helping all patients.
I want to come back to two things. One is the uh the idea of your hearing aid being wrapped in a wet paper towel. And the other one is the importance of the measurement. So, people don't realize you know you've heard the rule of threes, right? Three three uh three minutes, three days, three weeks. So you can you can't live without oxygen for three minutes, you can't live without water for three days, you can't live without food for three weeks. Why is that three minutes of water?
Your body is uh perspiring all the time. If you took a humidity sensor and you put it in your hand, and I've done this many times, we've made sensors put in here it will go to 95 percent almost within 10 seconds. That's because your body regulates its temperature by evaporating moisture. That's in fact it's called the latent heat of evaporation. As your water is coming, perspirations coming off your skin which is a living organ. It's taking water off, it's keeping your body at homeostasis 98.6 or the new 97.5. If that water is constantly being evaporated and being hung and the hearing aids on your ear, there is no way that that hearing aid cannot absorb moisture. Coming back to the measurement on the on the tool here, on the dryer. We found it it would be very compelling, particularly trying to break into an industry that I don't know admittedly might not be the right word maybe admittedly or ignoring moisture problems. Okay because I have a background in this industry. Ignoring the moisture problem. We found it it would be have to be compelling to show people even if they said their hearing aids sounded fine, to show them how much moisture we took out as minute as it was and then to hear the difference. So that's why we did that that's why that was important.
Absolutely and without giving any clinic data away or things like that what has been the most compelling story that you've heard so far um with the success of of this product?
I mean. Go ahead Matt you got a great one. Your personal one was also a good one too. But um the one that I've heard that was better than that was actually my own audiology office. And uh the audiologist there reached out to me and said, can I send you guys a testimony? Well, as a as a marketing guy the answer to that is always going to be, yes. Um. Matt's the consummate marketing guy. So, she sent me the video, she sent us the video and um because of my own hearing is because it's not great, I have to caption them myself. So, I run it through the auto caption and then we'll edit that. So, I'm listening to it and reading it the first time and my eyes get big. She had a nine-year-old come in who was one-sided uh CI and the other side with uh with a hearing aid. And the parents said that he'd been complaining that things weren't sounding as good in his non-implanted side. Everybody knew this kind of moment was probably coming. That the the reason for the one CI was going to be required bilateral implant eventually. And so, they tested his uh AzBio scores and they were in the 80s before. On this visit they were down in the 40s. So certainly data showing something was wrong. They did a diagnostic check on the aid, and it was functioning right, changed the battery, you know the battery power was fine. Um and they called for a surgical consult while the family was there. Let's see if we can have the doctor come while you're already here. So, as they were doing that, she said you know we have this new device that actually one of our patients uses and told us about, called Redux. Let me run it through there while we wait for the doctor. So, they ran it through and took out close to nine ten microliters from this boy's hearing aid. Put it back in, retested him, his AzBio scores went back up to 80 and they cancelled a surgical consult. Because it turned out the only thing wrong with his hearing aid, hearing was that his hearing aid was wet.
And you know like any new technology there's there's a healthy level of skepticism, particularly in audiology, where I think that every year there's a new next big thing right? The new game changer. And as a patient I love that. I love that I have medical professionals looking out for what is in my best interest. And so, when you start seeing you know data evidence that shows hey this really does what we say it's going to do and you start having stories like that um those are the kind of things that really um bring us joy, and pride in what we're doing. So, uh you know the idea of you you wonder how many people got you know a hearing aid? Or uh an upgraded hearing aid because their hearing had declined? Or an implant because hearing aids were no longer powerful enough for them? Over the last 20 30 years you wonder how many times it was just moisture? And so, to have an eight-minute solution to that, that you guys can do with every patient that comes in is pretty exciting.
We had a family friend come in and she wore binaural hearing aids, and her husband also wore hearing aids. And Matt I think this was before you started. And he had stopped wearing his hearing aids. The reason he had stopped wearing them is because they were laden with moisture and the amplification went down. And he thought, in fact, that the hearing aids were causing his hearing to be more damaged, so he quit wearing his hearing aids. We dried those hearing aids, okay, and she told us about this the next day when she brought them back to the husband, he couldn't believe it. But as she was in the office we dried her hearing aids, and it was like two and three microliters, the woman started crying. She couldn’t believe it. Right there and then in 10 minutes or so we didn't have that process down to eight minutes, that that made it the biggest difference she said ever on her hearing and on her hearing aids, right there in the office. It was awesome.
And that's what as a professional in this field as talking about the next big thing. Every hearing aid company is always talking about their IP rating, their moisture rating. And as that gets better and better, I love that we have an additional tool to keep people hearing the best that they can. I feel like we can offer more options to people that maybe were deterred by, oh I'm a sweaty guy, oh I can't wear that style. We have a solution for them and ultimately that solution is going to help them to hear better. The best hearing aid is one that you're going to wear. And if this allows them to have that freedom to choose the product that they want to, I'm very excited to have this in our office. And very grateful to have both of you joining us today. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you.
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