Interview with Dr. Carrie Browning: MAICO easyTone


In May 2022 MAICO Diagnostics released easyTone – their first tablet audiometer. This cutting-edge screening device offers easy pass/refer results, circumaural headphones, and includes the dedicated easyTone companion software for time saving digitized data management.

Dr. Carrie Browning, Audiologist and MAICO Product Manager, played a key role in the development of easyTone. In this exclusive interview for School Health she speaks about the vision behind the new tablet audiometer, the market challenges it was designed to address, and the benefits of using easyTone.


Carrie – you´ve experienced the development of the easyTone tablet audiometer from the beginning. What was the goal behind building a hearing screener like that?

Everything started with observing school screenings and pediatrician hearing screenings in the USA. Our main goal was to find out what can make these screenings significantly easier and faster. Our learnings helped us to define some key features and functions our next product should include. We wanted to bring a tablet audiometer to the market that satisfies the customer needs in these challenging fields. The easyTone idea worked greatly for this kind of platform.


You mention key functions, what are the three most unique features of this audiometer?

1) Pass/Refer results:  Due to the ability to create a school-specific protocol, an overall pass or refer result can be displayed for recording and documentation purposes. As initial screenings are meant to put the kids into two buckets—those that pass and then those that need further management—this reporting method makes that classification easy.

2) Importing a screening list: Through a simple software application that can be used with Windows or Mac PCs, one can quickly add a student list into the easyTone app. This allows a screener to easily select a student that needs to be screened and manage collected results at the end of the day. During our observation period in schools, we saw screeners spending hours and hours reporting results. We knew this had to be addressed within the product in whatever way we could. I believe we found a unique and very beneficial solution to assist all screening programs.

3) Noise Monitor: The easyTone has a microphone that allows for noise monitoring of the environment. This feature will never stop the test due to a noisy environment, but it can assist the screener to quiet the room when necessary or find another location to perform the screenings. With other audiometers, a refer for the child may be collected which requires them go through the secondary screening steps. This feature can be used to monitor the environment and reduce children being referred due to noisy conditions.


Could you explain what makes easyTone such an exciting product for school screenings?
One main benefit for school screenings is the integrated “protocol wizard”. Since every state in the US has their own standard for hearing screening protocols, we thought: “Why not make it possible to create customized screening protocols quickly and easily instead of having a predefined screening protocol the user needs to depend on?” That´s exactly what we have done with the protocol wizard. It enables customized screening protocols in six self-explaining setup screens. That way, users can tailor the easyTone to their specific school screening program.


“Significant ease of work with the Screening List Mode.”


What were the main challenges that came up during the development of easyTone and how did you overcome them?
What we had to overcome was that not all hearing screenings in the US are performed the same way. Each state can define their own screening process. Having this in mind, but including best practices as well, was challenging. In my opinion, we handled this perfectly and created a device that fits a broad range of screeners’ needs.


"Hearing Screening – As Quick and Easy As possible."


What makes easyTone different from traditional audiometers?
easyTone is designed to perform a hearing screening as quickly and easily as possible. To lessen button pushes, the device provides an almost automatic workflow. The simplified process assists with the management of screening lists to lessen time during the documentation of results. And most importantly: easyTone allows the user to create a protocol that is specific to their needs. Traditional audiometers are not focused on specific screening situations, so screeners are usually spending more time pushing buttons and rotating knobs, making the process more complex and time intensive. This can also lead to unintentional errors. With easyTone, the user can focus on the student while improving accuracy and significantly shortening the screening procedure.


What challenges do you see facing the “school screening” market and how does easyTone plan to address them?
Generally, the tasks of a school nurse are always increasing. Lots of things need to be done in limited time. With easyTone they can go through school screening programs efficiently and faster than before. The effort that it takes to manage students who need to be tested and their results is reduced.  


 "School Health understands the needs of the school market."


The whole development/launch process must have been really exciting. How was the expereince for you?

This has been the most enjoyable project I have contributed to through my 10-year employment with MAICO—actually probably my entire career. Seeing the challenges firsthand and working with the MAICO development team to come up with solutions has been exciting. School Health has been such a wonderful partner throughout this project, from finding locations to visit, individuals to interview, or even providing their own insight on what their customers need. I truly can’t wait to see how this product continues to grow and the new solutions we can offer to the school hearing screening market. 


MAICO and School Health have been strong partners for a long time. What makes the cooperation so outstanding in your opinion?

Working together to find solutions for the customer. Partnering for 65 years, allows us to have a pretty close relationship and direction for customer success. School Health understands the needs of the school market and they have provided insight and direction to us. Working closely with them allows us to provide the very best product offerings to the school market. 


Carrie – thank you very much for this interesting interview. 


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