Hearing test app is launched in South Africa by Hearing health solutions company hearX Group. It has provided affordable access to hearing healthcare to 18 437 people across SA, through its hearScreen application.
HearX Group was founded in 2013 by Professor De Wet Swanepoel and co-founders, Dr Herman Myburgh and engineer, David Howe. It develops affordable mHealth hearing solutions that provide access to hearing care using smart digital technology that can be used by anyone.
It’s Web and mobile application, hearScreen, was first released in 2016 and is billed as a world-first hearing screening mobile app in the field of audiology. The technology was developed in conjunction with the University of Pretoria.
According to hearX Group, it’s estimated that four to six in every 1 000 live births in the public healthcare sector have hearing impairments. Healthy hearing and vision are integral to the foundational growth of children, both in school and in their home environment.
To help find a solution, the company is currently running active projects in various schools within Tembisa, Tshwane and Cape Town, offering B2B services aimed at detecting and improving hearing impairments of pupils.
“The app was developed and designed by understanding a real-world socioeconomic problem. This bears testimony to the innovation and creativity in SA and its potential to make a global impact on sustainable change,” says Nausheen Dawood, audiologist and project manager for hearX Group.
The app is only available as part of a comprehensive health solutions business package offered to clients and partners.
The hearing screening solution cuts costs by over 80% with its model that allows for non-specialist personnel to execute the screening on children.
Using a speech recognition threshold, the software provides a real-life indication of an individual’s hearing ability. Since hearing occurs within a noisy environment most of the time, the test uses a random series of three digits presented with speech-weighted noise. A three-minute session of the hearing test is able to classify the outcome as either normal hearing or a possible hearing problem.
Thereafter, users have the option to be connected to a hearing healthcare professional for a consultation, adds Dawood.
The app recently received an AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Award in the category of Sustainable Community Projects.
For most South Africans, hearing aids are currently not affordable. “The hearScreen app is a social initiative that is highly commended. Translating audio-specialised education into a convenient and short screening test decentralises the model by enabling community members, educators and family to assist with this testing process,” continues Dawood.
According to the hearX Annual Impact Report for 2018-2019, the global reach of hearing screenings now encompasses 38 countries. In SA, the app has helped increase reach by 59.3% since 2017.
The company says it is looking to expand its community-based focus by adding more services and increasing efficiency and outcomes across SA.