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Member Interview: Michelle Nicholls Talks The Sound Exchange ’24

May 13, 2024

Ahead of The Sound Exchange ’24 later this month, we sat down with Michelle Nicholls, Director, Clinical Affairs – Australia and New Zealand at Cochlear about the latest at Cochlear and a sneak peek of what they have planned for Australia’s #1 hands-on, immersive audiology event of 2024.

1. Cochlear is the global implantable hearing solutions leader for people of all ages. Can you give us a brief overview of your role and impact on Australian hearing health and understanding and treatment of hearing loss?

In my role at Cochlear as the Clinical Director for Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), I play a pivotal role in overseeing and guiding the clinical aspects of the organisation’s operations related to cochlear and bone conduction implant systems. My responsibilities can range from leading the clinical strategy and introduction of latest technology in the region, training and education of hearing health professionals, and collaborating with a range of stakeholders from surgeons to audiologists and patient advocacy groups. I also have the pleasure of leading a team of skilled audiologists at Cochlear who provide world class clinical support to the professionals delivering surgical and audiological services to 17,000+ implant recipients across Australia and New Zealand.

With a background in speech pathology and audiology, I feel very passionate about the role and responsibility myself, my colleagues and fellow hearing healthcare professionals have in addressing the strikingly low adoption of cochlear implants in Australia – with approximately 90% of adults that could benefit from this technology still not receiving one.

2. What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for Cochlear and implantable hearing solutions?

One of the biggest challenges for us is addressing the lack of awareness in the community on implantable hearing solutions – and the highly effective nature of such treatment options for adults with significant hearing loss in Australia.

Cochlear and some of our world class hearing partners in Australia have over 40 years’ experience working with individuals with hearing loss, however we still see complexity and ambiguity in navigating a person’s journey to an implantable hearing solution. In Australia, we have some of the key ingredients already – very experienced physicians and implant professionals, multiple funding streams, strong collaborations, Australian-made technology and local support. The opportunity for improving the lives of individuals with hearing loss through cochlear and bone conduction implants are substantial – increased awareness and improved access driven by evidence-based practice and technological innovation will together help us get there.

3. Your involvement in this year’s event includes industry support for ‘Cochlear Implants: Maximising Auditory Potential Across the Lifestyle’, including hands-on sessions about Cochlear and hardware, software, and troubleshooting. Can you talk about the workshops you’ll be running and what you hope attendees take from the stream?

In the workshop for this stream, we will be focusing on some of our latest initiatives. For example, there will be an opportunity to become familiar with the features of our Remote Care solutions and how they work, including simulating a Remote Assist appointment; attendees will see how our programming software Custom Sound® Pro is integrated with this video consultation functionality.

There will also be the opportunity to learn about and engage with the Cochlear™ Nucleus® SmartNav system, a new intraoperative tool designed to support surgeons performing cochlear implant surgeries. By delivering a suite of clinically relevant metrics in a fast and intuitive manner, the system provides added surgical assurance for both hearing professionals and their patients. In the workshop, attendees will be able to navigate through a demo mode of this app to understand and become more familiar with its features and clinical utility.

4. What is the benefit of this hands-on learning approach when it comes to strengthening understanding of solutions such as Cochlear Implants?

Hands-on learning has multiple benefits for clinicians – active engagement with Cochlear’s products and experiential learning allows learners to gain practical knowledge and assists with better retention of product information and device application when it comes to supporting patients in the clinic. When it comes to solutions such as cochlear implants, hands on learning has the added benefit of being able to experiment with and manipulate products without the presence of your patient. The ‘safety’ of this workshop environment is that attendees need not worry that anything they touch may affect their patient’s device or outcome with the product, as everything will be a simulation. This gives attendees an unhindered chance to explore our solutions.

5. You’ll also be in our exhibition during The Sound Exchange. What can attendees expect from your booth and why should it be on their ‘must stop by’ list at the event?

We encourage and invite all attendees to stop by the Cochlear booth and receive a tote bag with the latest information on implantable hearing solutions. Our knowledgeable team of audiologists are looking forward to chatting. Whether you are currently working intensely with our products and have specific product questions or want to know more about what we offer and who could benefit from these solutions, we would love to meet you. The world of implantable devices is ever changing and a stop at the Cochlear booth can help enrich your understanding of current referral criteria for our products and explore the various features and benefits available to your patients.

6. What are you hoping attendees will take away from this engagement?

We have designed our exhibition booth to be versatile. We are on the ready to respond to all questions be it product, programming, referral, funding, or other topics of interest. Whatever you would like more support with, please let us know, and we hope to be able to shed some light and steer you in the right direction, so you can be more confident in having conversations about our products with your patients.

7. The Sound Exchange is Australia’s #1 national hands-on, immersive audiology event. Why do you think this type of event is so important for the sector? What makes it stand out from other conferences and national events on the calendar?

Events like The Sound Exchange are crucial in audiology for several reasons. Firstly, they serve as a platform for professionals to share knowledge and stay updated on the latest advancements in technology and practices. This fosters innovation and ensures audiologists remain current in a rapidly evolving field. Secondly, The Sound Exchange provides hands-on experiences, allowing attendees to engage directly with new equipment and techniques. This practical aspect enhances audiologists’ skills and confidence in adopting new technologies. Moreover, as Australia’s premier national audiology event, The Sound Exchange attracts diverse professionals, fostering collaboration and offering immersive learning experiences. Such events are vital for the sector, facilitating collaboration, knowledge exchange, and skill development, ultimately enhancing patient care.


This material is intended for health professionals. If you are a consumer, please seek advice from your health professional about treatments for hearing loss. Outcomes may vary, and your health professional will advise you about the factors which could affect your outcome. Always read the instructions for use. Not all products are available in all countries. Please contact your local Cochlear representative for product information.

For information regarding the sound processors, implants, operating systems and devices that are compatible with Cochlear’s Remote Care services, visit

Cochlear, Custom Sound, Hear now. And always, Nucleus, and the elliptical logo are either trademarks or registered trademarks of the Cochlear group of companies.

© Cochlear Limited 2024. All rights reserved

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