Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tech to Help with Hearing Problems

NIH’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) on December 20th posted a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) soliciting SBIR and STTR grant applications to develop technologies to improve hearing healthcare outcomes. Responsive applicants are to develop and commercialize improved devices to help underserved patients and also address health disparity populations.

Approximately 17 percent of American adults, or 36 million people, report some degree of hearing loss which is the third most prevalent chronic health condition facing seniors. Fewer than 20 percent of those who require intervention and treatment seek help for their condition. In addition, overcoming persistent disparities in healthcare access and health outcomes remains a foremost challenge.

The technologies must be affordable, effective, culturally acceptable, and accessible to those individuals who need them. The types of technology that is needed but is not limited to includes:

• Telehealth technologies for remote evaluation and monitoring
• Devices or sensors for point-of-care assessment or treatment
• Devices for in-home monitoring
• Mobile, portable assessment and therapeutic systems
• Devices which integrate assessment, diagnosis, and treatment
• Devices that do not require special training
• Devices that can operate in low-resource environments
• Non-invasive technologies for assessment, diagnosis and treatment
• Integrated, automated systems to assess or monitor a specific condition

A few specific examples include developing a kiosk to do low-cost hearing testing and to fit hearing aids for underserved patients and perhaps devising ways for the internet to test hearing, fit and adjust hearing aids, plus be able to provide patient education and follow-up

To view the FOA (Improving Access to Hearing Health Care SBIR RFA-DC-12-001 and STTR RFA-DC-12-002)), go to http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-DC-12-001.html. The earliest date for submission for the letter of intent is February 18, 2011 with the full application due March 18, 2011. New submissions will be accepted again November 18, 2011, and July 18, 2012.