Audio wearables company Nuheara (ASX: NUH) has announced that it has achieved a “breakthrough world first”, after being selected by the world’s largest single-payer healthcare system – the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) – to provide the agency’s hearing solutions for adults and children with mild to moderate hearing loss.
The NHS provides free healthcare to domestic residents and subsidises hearing aids for the vast majority of the UK market. At the current time, the NHS supplies 75% of all the country’s hearing aids, making it the largest sole buyer of such products in the UK.
The deal between Nuheara and the NHS, therefore, marks a significant milestone for the ASX-listed company given the large number of products that is likely to be demanded by one of the largest medical equipment buyers in the world.
Tendering IQbuds BOOST
Nuheara’s hearing aid – IQbuds BOOST – was selected by the NHS as a smart hearing bud to be prescribed alongside traditional hearing aids, expected to be offered to thousands of patients over the next 2-4 years, as stipulated by the newly-signed contract.
In a statement to the market, Nuheara said that the tender application was submitted in partnership with Nuheara’s UK-based hearing healthcare distributor, Puretone – the company that will ultimately be tasked with supplying IQbuds BOOST to the NHS and providing ongoing product support over the length of the contract.
Headquartered in Kent, Puretone is a hearing aid distributor that operates in 48 countries and supports over 11,000 independent hearing clinics.
Nuheara already supplies IQbuds BOOST into the US via a company called ADCO Medical and has seen the product classified as an Assisted Listening Device (ALD) by Australian government’s Hearing Services Program (HSP) earlier this year, which meant the hearing aid would be made available to Australian residents.
In addition, Nuheara has also extended its reach into Ireland, another major market for hearing aids. Just last week, Nuheara confirmed it had struck a deal with Irish company ‘Hidden Hearing’ which allows its IQbuds BOOST product to be made available in 61 Irish clinics by December 1, 2018.
According to the terms of the deal announced today, Nuheara will begin supplying its IQbuds product from April next year for an initial 2-year period with the deal potentially being extended through to 2023.
Aside from validating the company’s product and highlighting the growing need for accessible and affordable hearing aids, the NHS deal also means that Nuheara is putting its hat into ring that’s worth as much as £270 million (A$493 million), given the amount the NHS spends each year to support patients with mild to moderate hearing loss.
The anticipated value for purchases made by NHS for hearing device solutions to support this mild to moderate hearing category is estimated to be £34.5 million (A$61 million) in the first 12 months and £138 million (A$243 million) for the next 4 years.
“This tender and contract through one of the world’s leading government health care provider’s is a defining moment for IQBuds BOOST. In a world first for any government body, IQbuds BOOST can be prescribed to suffers of mild to moderate hearing loss,” said Nuheara’s jubilant CEO Justin Miller.
Mr Miller says the fact that IQbuds BOOST is a clinically-validated and can be self-configured means the NHS and its patients would only have to provide a “very modest service effort” in order to harness the full benefits of its proprietary technology.
“Nuheara’s European team and Puretone have worked tirelessly with the NHS over the past 12 months to provide samples, education and demonstrations of our products. We applaud NHS for foresight and innovation in moving prescriptions beyond traditional hearing aid companies and selecting a product that is fit for purpose, accessible and affordable,” said Mr Miller.