Within the past decade, and most certainly within the past year, technology in the medical world has brought a host of advances to the online market: dental braces, contact lenses, personal prosthetics, and now hearing aids can be ordered from the comfort of your home and even adjusted remotely.
Lively is a relatively new arrival to the hearing aid market, but it hasn’t taken them long to differentiate themselves from the existing landscape. Their all-inclusive bundles combine a high-tech device with ongoing on-demand telehealth services from licensed audiologists.
Most hearing aids are pretty delicate pieces of technology that require careful calibration and are not something that can be bought “off the rack.” Therefore, hearing aid manufacturers rely on individual audiologists to prescribe, sell, and service their devices. Instead, Lively offers the same level of care on a fully digital platform.
Can a series of video calls fully replace an in-person visit? Will that be enough for your hearing loss? Is Lively the most affordable option? We’ve tested Lively and the competition, so keep reading to find out.
- A low price – $1,850 for a bundle of services that usually costs $4,000 or more
- The convenience of zero office visits – hearing tests, consultations, and adjustments happen from home
- Lively’s technology and methods are backed by well-renowned audiologists and peer-reviewed studies
- A “bundle” price model with few hidden costs and little room for surprises
- Free online consultation and ongoing support by trained, licensed audiologists
- An easy-to-use, well-rated smartphone app
- Not the lowest-priced quality hearing aids – see our MDHearingAid review
- No in-person examinations, bone conduction tests, or fittings
- Lively only sells one model of hearing aid
- No opportunity to buy just one hearing aid (instead of a pair) or customize the package
Lively offers high-quality hearing devices made by ReSound. Keeping their hearing tests, consultations, and adjustments entirely online helps Lively trim the price tag considerably. You’d have to look hard to find good hearing aids that are more affordable than Lively… unless you visit Innerbody Research first, that is. We’ve done that legwork for you, discovering that our top choice for high-quality, low-cost hearing aids (MdHearingAid) actually saves you more money. The fact that Lively’s package includes 3 years of hearing consultations or check-ups is noteworthy. But if you’re looking for good hearing aids at the lowest price and with the convenience of an entirely online experience – and especially if you only need one hearing aid – learn about MDHearingAid before you buy.
Innerbody Research recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary online. Over the past two decades, we have helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.
We extensively test each health service we review. We try our best to give you, our readers, an unbiased exploration of at-home health services, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate the service based on our adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?
Additionally, this review of Lively Hearing Aids, like all health-related content on this website, was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
Lively, founded in January 2019, sells hearing aids directly to the consumer without the need to ever go to an audiologist’s office.
To ensure all their clients receive the level of care needed to make the most of their hearing aids (and that’s required by law),
Lively sells a bundle deal that includes:
- The hearing aids.
- An initial assessment.
- A three-year plan that covers on-demand appointments with a licensed audiologist, protection against loss or theft, and access to a dedicated smartphone app.
The cost of this bundle is $1,850 (or $2,250/pair if you want rechargeable hearing aids). It includes a 100-day-satisfaction guarantee, all shipping and handling costs, and sales tax. It can also be financed for up to two years.
The hearing exam
The hearing exam that Lively provides is impressive, even at first glance. The fully online test takes just ten minutes and includes a tone test and a short survey – the Consumer Ear Disease Risk Assessment, or CEDRA – meant to detect the likelihood of a more dangerous underlying condition.
If your results show severe hearing loss, or if you show any red flags during the CEDRA survey (for example, if you noticed a marked difference in your hearing ability), Lively will strongly encourage you to see a doctor in person.
Lively’s hearing aids
The basic Lively bundle includes two hearing aids and a one-year supply of 312 batteries (which usually cost $40 to $70 a year). Their second bundle option is $2,250 with rechargeable hearing aids that offer up to 30 hours of power on a three-hour charge. Lively uses LiNX 3D 5 hearing aids as part of its bundle. This is a behind-the-ear (BTE) mid-range model manufactured by ReSound, offering decent performance across a variety of environments and noise levels.
This model features:
- Four different preset settings that can be tweaked with the partner app.
- An option for tinnitus relief using white noise that distracts from ringing in the ears.
- Streaming capabilities for phone calls and music.
- Anti-theft features (which work via the smartphone app).
The hardware will be covered by a three-year warranty and protection plan. If you lose or break your hearing aid, you can get a replacement one for a deductible of $195.
Lively makes good use of online hearing tests, consultations, and adjustments to keep its pricing lower than many competitors, but the company does not control the manufacturing process. Part of the reason why MDHearingAid costs less is that they make their own line of hearing aids, which means they control the entire process from manufacturing to hearing consultation, sale, and adjustments.
Remote audiology care
While much of the technology needed to adjust a hearing aid remotely already exists, Lively takes it to a new level. Lively will calibrate your device before they ship it to you, depending on the results of your online hearing test. However, hearing aids are rarely completely perfect on the first go: in addition to technical tweaks, most people need some time to adapt to their new hearing levels.
This is why the after-care provided by an audiologist is so important. Lively’s remote audiology care service is meant to help you overcome this bridge without physically going to an office. Instead, you will be able to message and schedule video calls with a licensed audiologist.
As soon as you receive the hearing aids, you can contact one of Lively’s audiologists for an initial set-up appointment. This usually lasts between 30 to 45 minutes and will be done via video call. During the first few months, this audiologist will periodically check on you, calibrate your device remotely, or help you deal with any ongoing hearing issues.
You can also request assistance or technical support for the next three years. These appointments are usually done on the same day, and nearly always in the same week, as requested.
Remote control app
Lively’s smartphone app is a spin-off on the one that ReSound uses for its general devices. Its main function is to help you control the hearing aid directly from your phone. This is undeniably more comfortable than trying to flip a tiny switch on a part of your head you can’t see. The app lets you turn the aid on and off or change the settings. It also lets you send any incoming phone calls directly to your hearing aid, handle the streaming function, or activate the tinnitus relief mode.
All of these are pretty standard for hearing aid apps these days. However, it includes some extra tweaks that help the company bridge the distance between their offer and that of traditional audiologists.
The app will let you contact Lively directly to:
- Receive technical assistance.
- Request a phone or video call with an audiologist.
- Forward any tweaks or calibrations sent by your audiologist into the device, via Bluetooth.
- Locate your hearing device in case you misplace it.
One of the advantages of an all-inclusive bundle deal is that it’s pretty easy to follow – even if you are not completely tech-savvy. This is especially so if the company you are dealing with only has one product.
Step 1: Answer a short questionnaire about your hearing.
After arriving at the Lively website, you just need to head to the “Am I a Candidate?” link. This will take you to a short questionnaire about your experience with hearing loss. Then, you’ll have a chance to take the online hearing test. If you already have an audiogram, just click on “Upload your Audiogram.”
Step 2: Take the online hearing test (if needed).
If you are taking their online test instead of uploading an audiogram, you just need a desktop or laptop with a good internet connection and a pair of headphones or earbuds. Their test is designed to be taken with your volume set to its maximum or 100. The environment in which you take the test will impact the results, so make sure to check out these tips to make the most of it.
The test itself takes less than ten minutes.
Step 3: Examine your results.
After you complete it, you’ll see a simplified version of your results, stating the severity of your hearing loss and the type of sounds you have more trouble with. They also let you know if you need a hearing aid at all or if you should potentially see a professional first.
Step 4: If you’re eligible, choose hearing aids.
If Lively determines that you’re eligible, get ready to hop in the saddle: Lively immediately asks you to choose a color and enter your payment information.
Step 5: Receive your Lively hearing aids.
After completing the checkout process, you can expect your hearing aids in about 10 to 15 days. The company will also contact you around the time in which your package is scheduled to arrive to book the initial set up consultation.
Step 6: Assess your hearing improvements during the testing period.
From the moment you set up your hearing aids, you’ll get a 100-day window to test them. During that time, if you don’t feel any noticeable benefit on your day-to-day hearing, you can request a full refund and return the hearing aids.
Otherwise, you can keep them and you will be eligible to receive continuous aftercare or follow-up appointments for three years. Lively also covers you during this time if your hearing aids are stolen or damaged.
Lively wasn’t really designed to work with insurance companies, and the company is aware that most insurance companies don’t cover hearing aids. This is why Lively doesn’t take direct credit from insurers.
They will provide you with itemized bills and receipts if you want to try your luck with a reimbursement claim, however. You may need to contact your insurance company to check the extent of your coverage and the requisites for it. The bundled model that Lively uses may complicate coverage a bit if your plan covers audiology care or the initial audiogram but not the actual device.
Conversely, Lively’s main approach to making its plans more affordable is to offer payment plans. Their bundles can be financed for 12, 18, or 24 months via Amazon Affirm.
Finally, Lively takes payments from HSA or FSA debit cards once they are linked to a major credit card company.
At Innerbody Research, we customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health-related service. For health-related products and services, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations, including:
Quality: How well does the company deliver its core service(s) and product(s) to the customer? For testing services, does the company adhere to the latest and most advanced testing technologies and achieve a very high degree of accuracy? For non-testing telehealth services, is the quality of the service and/or product high enough that we would recommend it to loved ones without hesitation? If not, why not?
User-friendly: How intuitive and user-friendly is the service? Does the device/program/app/website achieve a good degree of user-friendliness for its customers?
Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the company offer discounts?
Privacy: If health data is stored, will your data be stored securely? Are payments secure?
Customer support: Particularly in situations where ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t make sense, how well does the company help to make the service ideal for you?