Audiological devices are electronic instruments used for the diagnosis and treatment of hearing deformities. Used by audiologists and patients with hearing impairments of varying degrees, audiological devices are highly efficient in treating congenital hearing problems and nerve deafness. The global audiological devices market
has gained significance across the world owing to increased occurrence of hearing disabilities in the old as well as the young, rise in R&D investments, improved healthcare infrastructure, growing purchasing power, government intervention, and surge in innovation.
Consumer Preference Determines Choice of Audiological Device
Audiological devices consist of hearing aids, cochlear implants, bone anchored hearing aids, and diagnostic devices. The product segment of hearing aids is further fragmented into in-the-ear (ITE) aids, behind-the-ear (BTE) aids, receiver-in-the-ear aids, and canal hearing aids, which is divided into invisible-in-canal (IIC), completely-in-canal (CIC), and in-the-canal (ITC). The segment of diagnostic devices is divided into otoscopes, tympanometers, and audiometers.
On the whole, digital audiological devices have replaced their analog counterparts, since the former are more efficient, highly compact, and more technologically advanced. Of the main types of hearing aids, in-the-ear and behind-the-ear aids are most commonly used by patients because of their comfort level, ease of use, cosmetic preference, efficiency in treating hearing loss to a wide extent, and connectivity. Geriatric patients with hearing disabilities prefer behind-the-ear hearing aids since they are easy to handle and clean when compared to in-the-ear aids.
Cochlear implants have gained preference among many users since they enable highly improved sentence understanding (average of 80%) in comparison with hearing aids (average 10%). Thanks to innovation in implantation techniques, the risk of complication and infection has reduced and operating time has been brought down. Owing to these factors, the market for cochlear implants is projected to grow at a rapid pace over the coming years.
Increased Prevalence of Hearing Impairment Driving Most Regional Markets
Among the four regional markets for audiological devices – North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Rest of the World – Europe is the largest regional market in terms of volume and revenue largely owing to the fact that most of the key players in the audiological devices market are based in Western Europe. This also results in a large number of products being introduced here. Apart from this, factors such as the rising incidence of hearing impairment, technological innovations, and shift in consumer preference towards highly advanced and less visible hearing aids have helped boost the audiological devices market in Europe.
North America is also a key regional market owing to factors such as the sophisticated healthcare infrastructure present there, increased disposable income of patients, and rising prevalence of deafness.
Asia Pacific, on the other hand, is likely to be the fastest growing regional audiological devices market thanks to a rise in the aging population, technological development, introduction of healthcare reforms, improvement in healthcare infrastructure, rise of medical tourism, and increasing awareness regarding the various audiological devices available in the market. On the other hand, high cost of surgical solutions and the social stigma associated with deafness is threatening to hamper the growth of the audiological devices market in emerging countries and around the world.
Audiological Devices Market: Product Differentiation and Multiplicity of Brands
The global audiological devices market is dominated by major players such as Sonova Holding AG, Siemens Healthcare, Starkey Hearing Technologies, GN ReSound Group, William Demant Holding A/S, Cochlear Limited, and Widex A/S.
Many of these companies have a plethora of audiological devices and brands to their name. For instance, William Demant Holding has three divisions dealing with audiological devices. The diagnostic division comprises Amplivox Ltd., Grason- Stadler, Inc., Interacoustics A/S, MAICO Diagnostics GmbH, and MedRX, Inc. The audiology division includes Oticon Medical, Oticon, Sonic, and Bernafon AG. The personal communication division consists of Sennheiser Communications A/S and Phonic Ear A/S. Sonova Holding is an umbrella organization that comprises Phonak AG, Unitron Hearing, Connect Hearing Group, and Advanced Bionics, LLC. Beltone, ReSound, GN Otometrics A/S, and Interton are all a part of the GN ReSound Group.