Systems and methods for communicating with an implant within a patient's body using acoustic telemetry includes an external communications device attachable to the patient's skin. The device includes an acoustic transducer for transmitting acoustic signals into the patient's body and/or for receiving acoustic signals from the implant. The device includes a battery for providing electrical energy to operate the device, a processor for extracting data from acoustic signals received from the implant, and memory for storing the data. The device may include an interface for communicating with a recorder or computer, e.g., to transfer data from the implant and/or to receive instructions for controlling the implant. The device is secured to the patient's skin for controlling, monitoring, or otherwise communicating with the implant, while allowing the patient to remain mobile.