Reproductive healthcare remains largely an underserved extension of the U.S. healthcare system. For those not covered, the price tag of a single assisted reproductive technology cycle can cut into more than 50 percent of an individual’s annual disposable income. So how can we diminish this cost?
A data science company called Glow thinks it has the answer. The San Francisco-based startup, who’s app Glow focuses on women’s reproductive health and education, is hoping to redefine the industry standard for employee health benefits. And to do so, it recently launched Glow for Enterprise – a new benefit for employees that provides financial assistance for fertility treatments, which are considered elective procedures in most states.
Companies that participate in Glow for Enterprise will enable employees to gain fully-covered membership into Glow First – a not-for-profit crowdfunding program that helps alleviate the cost of fertility treatments. The startup has already helped thousands of women conceive since launching last August.
“We consider ourselves more than just a fertility app,” said Glow CEO Mike Huang. “We think women should have more control and insights into their health - whether they’re trying to conceive or they’re trying to prevent pregnancy - and we’ve built this into our product with the help of data science.”
So how does it work?
Women punch their personal details into the app (such as body temperature, menstrual cycles, etc.). The app will then feed you personalized insights into such details as the best times to have sex or, conversely, the best times to take more precaution. For Glow First users, people pay a $50/month fee into a fund for 10 months with other Glow First members. At the end of 10 months, if the woman is pregnant, the money will be donated to the less fortunate women who do not get pregnant in the same grouping. The money these couples assume can potentially offset the cost of medical intervention, if they so choose down the line.
So far, Eventbrite and Evernote – two of the hottest startups in the Bay Area – have already partnered with Glow to help empower their employees to take charge of their reproductive healthcare. And to note, all information between participating women is kept confidential. Companies will only receive anonymous aggregated results at the end of the month, but not specifically who enrolled in the service.
Of course, there is also a long-term goal in mind for the Glow. Not only can its app educate its users about the best way to conceive, but also it can take in enormous amounts of anonymous data about women’s reproductive systems to potentially draw invaluable conclusions.
“Access to large data sets gives us the chance to answer critical questions about women’s health, and work with our medical advisors to determine concrete findings,” said Huang. Some examples of information we may be able to discover include knowing the impact certain foods and exercise can have on fertility or determining, once and for all, if factors such as sex position or female orgasm affect a woman’s chance of conceiving”
Glow can sure be a helpful reprieve from what’s typically offered for reproductive healthcare. At the very least, it’s a welcome tool to encourage women to help themselves before they seek professional (and expensive) medical alternatives. But at the very most, it can revolutionize a part of health benefits industry that’s been largely uncovered.
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