By Sylvia Kang
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Women’s health is complicated. One out of six couples face fertility issues. Ovarian reserve, a primary indicator of fertility health, decreases sharply after the age of 35, leaving women to look to fertility specialists. The most common form of fertility treatment is in vitro fertilization (IVF) with an average out of pocket cost of approximately $12k, with no guarantee of success. The IVF approach may consist of multiple rounds before success, and then, once a woman is pregnant, there is the risk of miscarriage. On the opposite end of the spectrum, for older women entering menopause, there can be extreme discomfort.
All of these complications are heavily rooted in hormone levels. LH and Estrogen levels are tied to ovulation. Progesterone levels confirm ovulation. hCG levels can confirm a pregnancy and fetal health. FSH is tied to ovarian reserve and menopause progress. The connection between hormone levels is critical and the reason why doctors always recommend conducting blood work to check appropriate female hormones related to women’s health issues.
Frequent hospital and lab visits are usually required due to the fluctuation in hormone levels across cycles and from woman to woman. Even with these visits, doctors can only see a snapshot of the hormone pattern. Furthermore, it is extremely hard for patients to interpret data by themselves to make meaningful decisions. All in all, tracking hormones and understanding patterns and trends can be extremely hard and stressful for many women. And often costly.
Can technology help?
One emerging technology that has shown promise in recent years is wearables and activity tracking devices. Unfortunately, despite the many offerings, most of these devices just track basic vitals, such as heart rate, number of steps, hours of sleep, etc. While it can be entertaining (and helpful) for ordinary consumers to know their activity levels, this data is hardly being used for medical decisions.
We need a more effective way to obtain patients’ data which can be clinically meaningful.
How do you measure hormones at home?
The need for better at-home diagnostic testing is driving innovation in women’s health.
Yet, there is more that can be done. The current trend is towards accuracy and convenience, at a low cost. Mira, a comprehensive women’s health testing platform, tracks ovulation, measures ovarian reserve, tracks fetal health, and monitors menopause and hormone imbalance at home—all through a urine test. With a palm-sized smart, connected analyzer, it has reached 99% accuracy in 400 patient clinical trials when compared with professional labs. That’s because it uses immunofluorescence technology, the same gold standard used in hospitals. The hormone data is automatically managed to eliminate manual charting. The AI technology learns a women’s personalized cycle variability and the Mira Analyzer reads the hormone concentrations and transfers the data to the Mira App.
If a woman is trying to conceive, a companion app charts her cycle patterns. She can then share her health status with her partner and doctor. Integrated AI learns her personal variability and lifestyle, and tells her exactly when to try for a baby by tracking ovulation. The Mira blog educates her on health-related behaviors. A telemedicine component optionally connects her with doctors. She consults with doctors rather than seeking answers randomly online. An ovarian reserve test tells her the best time to have a baby or monitors her menopause progress. The device measures her actual hormone concentrations instead of a positive or negative estimation.
By tracking actual hormone levels related to a woman’s ovarian reserve and ovulation, advanced technology can help consumers who are trying to conceive or trying to avoid pregnancy. In addition, such technology can also detect early pregnancy, track fetal growth and detect early signs of miscarriage as well as track menopause progress.
With continuous and lab-graded measurements, doctors have access to patients’ data that they previously never had, allowing them to provide personalized treatment plans. The accumulated health information can be used to understand and predict disease patterns with the assistance of AI and decrease the time patients spend going to labs. This also reduces costs associated with managing and conducting the lab tests.
Giving Consumers the Power Over Their Health
Technology can and should give patients more power to make more of their own health decisions, rather than having doctors make all the decisions for them. As health care consumers, a better education and understanding of one’s own health helps one to stay healthier, be more productive, and have better family relationships. This is especially true for women.
Historically,, data driving an individual woman’s health has been lacking. Most women don’t know their ovarian reserve level, making it harder to balance the timing of having a baby versus career growth.
The right technology can provide the data that gives consumers all over the world more power and control over their life, family, and career. We are seeing substantial developments in that direction for women’s health. I expect we’ll see similar at-home smart, connected technology advancements in many other health related areas in the near future.
Sylvia Kang is the co-founder and CEO of Quanovate. She has built the U.S. operation and is responsible for the commercialization of Quanovate’s product, Mira. She is committed to bringing point-of-care technology to improve consumers’ health.
Sylvia holds an M.B.A. from Cornell University, and a M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Columbia University. She is also a concert pianist who has won multiple international piano competitions in France, China, and Hong Kong.