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Meet Germany’s first health app dedicated to endometriosis

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Dr Nadine Rohloff

We sat down with Dr Nadine Rohloff, CEO of the medical start-up Endo Health GmbH, to find out how Germany’s first endometriosis app helps women understand and manage their symptoms independently. 

 

What is the Endo-App?

The Endo-App is a digital health app for people suffering from endometriosis. The app helps women improve their life quality through multimodal self-management.

A smart diary, targeted exercises guided by experts and useful information in easily digestible videos are just some of the features.

The positive effect on life quality has been shown in randomised studies and the app is now available through all German health insurances.

What was the idea behind the app?

Endometriosis is a chronic and currently incurable disease that can severely affect the quality of life of those suffering from it.

According to WHO estimates, 10 per cent of the female population are currently affected by endometriosis. Since there is still no way to fully heal it, the treatment of endometriosis is primarily aimed at improving the quality of life.

The Endo-App was designed to help patients in their everyday lives to understand their individual symptoms, manage them independently and find the best possible way to deal with their chronic disease.

In the long term, of course, the idea is also to use the knowledge gathered in our studies to develop possible therapeutic approaches and improve endometriosis healthcare.

How does the app help women manage their symptoms?

The Endo app is designed as an everyday companion for better self-management. The focus here is on multimodal therapy.

This consists of various disciplines such as nutritional medicine, psychology and pain education, exercise, physiotherapy, stress management and many more. Alongside medication and surgical treatment it forms an essential pillar of therapy.

Our intelligent symptom diary suggests evidence-based and suitable exercises for the individually documented complaints. The user is guided to directly take the first measures against her symptoms.

In the long term, we enable the users to recognise which options of multimodal therapy are most effective for them personally. Based on this knowledge, they can create a special SOS plan for pain peaks, where the most effective learning or exercise content can be called up directly.

What kind of resources can women access within the app?

The heart of the app is a highly specialised symptom and activity diary. This supports users in understanding the connections between, for example, diet, exercise or other activities in relation to their symptoms. Recognising these individual connections is an essential part of a successful therapy.

In addition, users will find a variety of guided exercises for everyday life as well as learning modules. Successful self-management and patient compliance are promoted through educating the individuals.

A big unmet need is the very short time that doctors have during appointments. So a lot of explanation of this complex disease is not accounted for in the health system. This means the app relieves the health system by providing an evidence based guidance.

The app brings together expertise from various fields, such as gynaecology, nutritional medicine, psychotherapy, pain therapy, physiotherapy, social studies or sexual medicine – giving the users a holistic overview.

Movement and nutrition are a big part of the app. Why are they important when it comes to managing symptoms? 

Adequate physical activity and a balanced diet are generally two important components for human health. Significant correlations between symptoms and lifestyle have been observed in endometriosis.

For example, nutrition can influence hormone balance, immunological processes and inflammation, which all play a big role in endometriosis. This means, with a healthy individual diet, endometriosis sufferers can get active to improve their wellbeing.

Exercise is an important part of pain management, because it helps our internal pain reducing mechanisms and releases stress. Also, physiotherapy for pelvic relaxation can be a huge benefactor in chronic pelvic pain.

But for this to work, an individual approach is needed, to ensure a good result. On bad days stretching or breathing exercises are needed, while on other days a bit more is possible.

Changing habits is not always easy and this is where our app comes in.

What do women love the most about the Endo-App?

We love to get direct feedback from our users and we do encourage it through studies, social media, direct messages and focus groups. So far, studies have shown that regular use of the Endo-App improves quality of life.

As direct feedback from our users we receive a lot of praise for the exercises, information and the individual approach. For example, we educate on the chronification of pain.

Often people who do not have a medical background cannot imagine exactly which physiological processes contribute to the development of the disease. Through our modules, subjective disease awareness is adjusted and thus compliance can be increased.

When patients understand what is happening in their body, it helps them make adjustments for self-management and also to be less afraid of what is happening. It has been shown, that better understanding of the disease can also improve quality of life.

To find out more, visit endometriose.app.

 

(The Endo-App is a product of the Endo Health GmbH)

Dr Nadine Rohloff founded the Endo-App after working in an endometriosis centre during her residency in gynaecology at University Clinic Münster, Germany. 

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‘Tamagotchi with a twist’- the device you didn’t know you needed

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Tired of apps? Enter IMMI, the period tracking device you didn’t know you needed. 

The IMMI tracker is a device that can learn to track and monitor your menstrual cycle without an app or smartphone.

The gadget, which doesn’t require internet connectivity, is suitable for any geographies, communities and ages and promises to positively impact women’s sense of agency, body literacy and overall self-esteem and mental health. Founder and CEO, Sarah Cottee, tells us all about it below.

How would you describe IMMI in a few words?

IMMI is building simple, private, fashionable menstrual tracking consumer products that don’t require internet connectivity to work; think tamagotchi that also warns you when your period is due!

What inspired you to create IMMI? 

I was working in private philanthropy, funding social enterprises throughout South East Asia and living in Manila, where I saw firsthand the lack of access to education that women and girls had.

Around the same time I had come off hormonal birth control and was on my own journey of getting to know my body and cycle.

I was very concerned with the privacy limitations of the period tracking apps, so I set out to create a solution that mitigated my worries, and was accessible to women and girls everywhere. 

Sarah Cottee, founder and CEO of IMMI

My passion for women’s health, however, runs in the family. My grandmother, an Irish midwife living in Liverpool, taught women in the local community about cycles and fertility, and worked closely with the University of Birmingham on early, pioneering research they were doing in this space. 

As you were building IMMI, what was the need you identified?

It was two fold; the average age that girls download period tracking apps is 21, and considering they start their periods around age 12, this is a huge gap where they’re not learning about their body, their emotions and their mental health in relation to their cycle.

Secondly, I kept hearing that people who were using apps were either fed up with how much data they were being asked to enter and experiencing “app fatigue”, or concerned with their data being stored on the cloud.

Consumers wanted something low-lift, smart, but that enabled them to keep their data private.

What makes IMMI different?

It doesn’t require an app and all the data is locally stored on the tracker itself, however it’s still “smart”.

We’ve increased the memory so it stores each cycle data, and our algorithm continuously calculates a rolling average. This means that your tracker learns your unique average cycle length making the period predictions more accurate over time.

You also have the ability to “reset” the tracker and clear its memory if needed. With our new design, you can attach it to your keys, purse or bag so that it’s always with you.

People may be thinking ‘How is IMMI helping women better understand their bodies’. What’s your response to that?  

IMMI is designed to empower women by simplifying how they track and understand their menstrual cycles. We started by asking, “Why is it easier to know the date on the calendar than the day of your menstrual cycle?”

Our goal is to make tracking your menstrual cycle as straightforward as checking the time and date. By providing a tool that integrates this aspect of health into daily life, IMMI empowers women to recognise their body’s own unique signals, and gain a deeper understanding of themselves throughout their reproductive years.  

How would you describe the impact and importance of your work?

In a time where women’s health data is being weaponised, providing an option that puts privacy first is vital. IMMI allows women to track and learn about their cycle without any concerns that their data might be shared with a third party. 

Furthermore, we worked with one of the UN Agencies to conduct a pilot and see the impact of IMMI on girls in emerging markets who don’t have access to accurate, trustworthy information, leaving them vulnerable to, social exclusion, dropping out of school or unplanned pregnancy.

Over the six months of the trial, the proportion of women and girls who said they knew the expected start date of their period leaped from 58 per cent to 81 per cent in the Republic of Moldova, and from 47 per cent to 82 per cent in Burkina Faso.

Girls reported a significant decrease in anxiety from having this information accessible, and others said they were finally able to talk to their mum about this topic. 

What is the best part about building IMMI and being an entrepreneur in this space? 

Meeting incredible innovators! I get to meet the most inspiring men and women all over the world who are pushing forward the female health agenda and providing solutions that are truly novel and useful, allowing women to lead a more integrated and empowered life.

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#FromBerlinWithSolidarity: period tracking app Clue on reproductive rights and data privacy

Femtech World sat down with Clue chief product officer, Rhiannon White, to find out more about the company’s latest campaign

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To mark the one-year anniversary of the overturning of Roe v Wade, the German period tracking app Clue has launched a powerful campaign.

From Berlin With Solidarity, a passion project by American Clue users and advertising creatives Amy Char, Heather Patterson, and Ashley Milhollin, aimed to bring attention to the very real fear of reproductive surveillance faced by women in US states where the loss of reproductive rights means people are afraid their health data could be used to prosecute them for seeking abortion.

The campaign, which featured bold billboards in the US and humorous posters in Berlin, was, in co-CEO Audrey Tsang’s words, directed at sparking a conversation about the importance of privacy rights for equal healthcare.

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The AI start-up on a mission to democratise IVF

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Daniella Gilboa, co-founder and CEO of AIVF
One in six people experience infertility globally, according to the World Health Organization. However, many couples are still unable to afford treatment. Daniella Gilboa, co-founder and CEO of the Israeli fertility start-up AIVF, tells us how AI could democratise IVF and increase access to affordable, high-quality fertility care for those struggling to conceive.

 

What is AIVF?

AIVF is an Israeli reproductive technology company transforming the fertility journey to be intelligent, accessible, and full of hope.

Based on scientific research and driven by real-world clinical use, AIVF developed a proprietary Fertility Operating System with automated embryo evaluation and deep learning algorithms to optimize clinical processes and improve patient outcomes.

Our solution, EMA, addresses two unmet needs in fertility. First, AI capabilities assist embryologists in their embryo evaluation, instantly identifying what the human eye cannot detect alone.

Second, with the integration of platforms, our single dashboard system streamlines all data in one place. From patient records to personalised embryo analytics, our platform connects the patient, lab, and clinic all in one place.

What is the story behind your company?

While writing my Ph.D. dissertation, it was suggested that my thesis could be a start-up. This field attracted me immediately. I believe being an embryologist is the most fantastic job in the world —using expertise to support individuals and families in bringing life into the world and homes.

While passionate about being an embryologist, I realised the more significant impact I could make is combining this with my previous experience using complex data to solve problems.

Knowing this field’s “ins and outs” made me realise there had been no significant progress and a lack of innovation for decades. I decided to jump right in, knowing I could make a difference for the better.

The move from embryologist to CEO of a start-up was a huge step, and I am constantly learning. My passion for helping bring children into the world remains the same. It’s my greater obligation to the world around me to create the next generation of IVF for clinicians, embryologists, and, most importantly, patients.

What makes your technology different?

The AIVF software algorithm was developed using hundreds of thousands of images and videos of embryos tagged with successful conception and leading to a normal pregnancy.

Currently, the programme can independently identify the embryos with the highest chances of developing into normal pregnancy.

The software AIVF developed identifies biological processes the human eye can’t detect. For example, the technology can spot mitochondrial ‘energy action’ directly linked to the embryo’s collapse or chances of implantation.

Unlike most deep learning algorithms, the AIVF platform identifies the patterns driving its actions and can explain its decisions.

It will mark, for example, that it has given a low score to a specific embryo due to disruptions or disorders found during its development, a different behavioural pattern at the cell division stage, or abnormal morphological appearance such as fractures.

How would your technology change the patient experience and fertility care more broadly?

On average, the IVF journey takes four years, seven cycles, and three miscarriages, costing an average of US$12,000 per IVF round.

By improving the embryologist’s capabilities in selecting the most viable embryo, there is potential for AI to help a patient conceive in one or two cycles. Our technology aims to minimise IVF’s financial and emotional costs by reducing the cost and time spent.

Additionally, our technology aims to add transparency to each patient’s IVF journey. While patients can access more information than ever, they make decisions based on a leaflet in the doctor’s office or a quick internet search.

Individuals need friendly and professional guidance to help them understand their journey’s complexities. Our integrated platform provides a window into the IVF lab and personalised analytics that help patients understand each step of the journey.

Where are you with the business now?

We are integrated with Southeast Asia, South America, North America, and Europe fertility clinics. So far, studies from our European clinics show that the platform has demonstrated a 70 per cent probability of success for embryos with a high EMA score.

The clinical studies also showed that EMA improved embryologists’ accuracy by 38 per cent and reduced the number of cycles to achieve pregnancy by 21.5 per cent on average. By improving embryologists’ accuracy, AIVF saves both time and money in the fertility journey.

What are your goals for this year?

IVF is one of the most important medical innovations in the last 50 years. Yet, the legacy technology used today in clinics can’t serve the 25 million women in the US who have limited or no access to fertility care.

At AIVF, we aim to use technology to make IVF efficient, accurate, and accessible to all who wish to grow their families.

Where do you see AIVF in five years?

Embryo evaluation using AI will democratise IVF by increasing access across underserved groups. More specifically, it will facilitate reduced costs by optimising our labour, laboratory performance, shorter time to a healthy, live birth of a singleton, and reduced failed cycles by not transferring embryos with a low chance of implantation (deselected embryos).

The promise of AI mitigated freedom for the computational embryologist is not just a new toolkit. It is the democratisation of high-quality IVF services. We call it IVF 3.0.

As we integrate AI technology into IVF practices and our work as embryologists and clinicians, the goals should remain the same: minimise costs and patient drop-out due to stress and financial fatigue while ensuring the highest quality patient care.

 

Daniella Gilboa is the co-founder and CEO of the AI technology start-up AIVF. As an IVF researcher, she is dedicated to advancing the science of using machine learning to optimise IVF processes. Gilboa is committed to driving the next generation of IVF technology and increase pregnancy success rates.

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