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The company addresses issues of infertility before they happen, to lower costs and reduce risks
Roughly one in eight couples, or a total of 7.4 million people, in the United States struggle with issues related to infertility. Despite the prevalence of the problem, most treatment solutions are still expensive: the average cost of in vitro fertilization in the U.S. is currently around $12,000. Not surprisingly, all of this leads to most patient reporting feelings of depression.
What if there was a pay to get to the heart of fertility issues early on in the journey, thereby reducing both the cost and the risk to the patient? That's the idea behind Frame Fertility a company, founded by CEO Jessica Bell van der Wal and her husband Corey after their own fertility journey, which officially launched on Wednesday with a $2.8 million seed round of funding.
"Frame is holistic. We look at the full picture of someone’s fertility health, for example their goals, medical history, partner, financials, not just their age or hormone levels," van der Wal told me.
"Frame is proactive – focused on proactively eliminating the crisis, risk factors and high costs of an infertility diagnosis. There are multiple companies focused on those struggling with infertility. We are helping them and everyone else before they ever get to this challenging place."
Frame offers a suite of services that can help identify risk to the patient ensuring that their health issues are addressed before they start trying to conceive. The solution is offered through employers and providers to their employees and patients.
Once a user registers, the company assess where they are in their family planning and their health using a digital questionnaire and a proprietary clinical algorithm. It then pairs the user, or users, with a dedicated coach to align on their plan and make it easy to take action on next steps. Going forward, their coach is there to support them throughout their journey via email, text or additional coaching calls.
"Our coaches are each certified in health and wellness coaching and counseling with other complementary experience in fertility and/or women’s health," van der Wal explained.
"All of our coaches go through extensive training on our product and coaching methodology. Some are full-time employees and some are hourly, which will continue to evolve as our business grows."
The company not only caters to people from all walks of life, supporting patients of all races, ethnicities, gender identities, and sexual orientations, both single and partnered, but it also reframes fertility issues as being a women's health issue, as around half of infertility issues are due to “male factor” infertility.
So far, Frame has piloted its product in partnership with OB/GYNs in 2021, and it is now seeing growth across the healthcare provider spectrum to include Family Medicine providers and fertility clinics. After using Frame, the company saw that 88% of its users reported health improvement, while 90% felt more confident in their care, and 82% of users uncovered risk factors, such as undiagnosed endometriosis and PCOS.
The new found of runding was led by Looking Glass Capital, and with participation from Flare Capital Partners, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Healthworx and Brand Foundry Ventures. Angel investors in the company include Christine Hsu Evans, chief marketing and strategy officer at Headspace Health; Julie Cheek, CEO and founder at Everly Health; and Giovanni Colella, founder of Castlight, OODA and Brightline Health.
The company plans to use it to grow its team to support new customer launches; expand the product, including new functionality such as community features; and to support research efforts to continue to prove out how its product supports and improves health and clinical outcomes.
"With our solution, everybody wins - consumers, providers, employers and payers. We seek to improve health and lower costs. Thus, we sought investors that touch every aspect of that spectrum and every part of healthcare. We have MDs, we have consumer health CEOs, we have institutional firms focused B2B, we have female-focused investors. We have a well-rounded group that is pounding the table for better answers. This market is far from saturated," said van der Wal.
Frame Fertility is launching in an environment where the conversation, and demand, for fertility solutions has grown significantly, especially following the COVID crisis. That has led to employers, who have been challenged by The Great Resignation, to offer better, more inclusive fertility benefits in order to retain and attract the best, most diverse, talent.
Despite all of that, though, gaps still remain, van der Wal said.
"Although many are starting to offer benefits for treatments like egg freezing and IVF, they are missing holistic options that can often avoid the crisis of reactive treatments and improve overall health," she explained.
"Providers are seeing the intense and emotional toll of an infertility diagnosis on their patients and are eager for an evidence-based solution that doesn’t add to their workload. People are delaying building their families. Millennials and GenZers are questioning having babies at all due to economic uncertainty and climate change."
At the same time, more people are openly talking about fertility and infertility challenges, leading consumers to seek better support.
"Our ultimate vision is to live in a world where infertility doesn’t exist. Dealing with fertility challenges can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, from their relationships and mental health, to their finances and productivity," said van der Wal.
"We want to be there before that infertility crisis ever happens to ideally prevent it from ever existing."
(Image source: framefertility.com)
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Joined Vator onHumanizing family building as the CEO / Co-Founder of Frame Fertility; Digital Health Advisor; Previous exec at Castlight Health, Nike, Deloitte Consulting and Genentech; BA in Public Health from UNC Chapel Hill, MBA from Harvard Business School.