Virtual Menopause Care Connects Patients to Critical Services
Digital health solutions tackling specific patient needs, from diabetes to behavioral health, have expanded in recent years.
The femtech space —a term first coined in 2016 referring to technology-based women’s health products and services — has also seen vital growth, especially for menopause care. Up to 20 percent of the U.S. workforce currently experiences perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms, and there are not enough specially trained physicians to address the need.
To fill the gap, virtual care companies — many founded and run by women — have formed to address this common health experience, with the goal of guiding patients through the seven- to 10-year journey that can impact everything from sleep to cardiovascular health.
Directing Women To the Right Menopause-Specific Care for Them
Ann Garnier, founder and CEO of Midday, an app launched in 2022 that incorporates Mayo Clinic’s virtual care, artificial intelligence and wearables, puts it this way: “Technology is imperative.”
A seemingly benign menopausal irritant such as hot flashes can evolve into a life-threatening chronic condition, Garnier says.
“If you are having hot flashes, your sleep is disturbed, which leaves you tired. As a result, you don’t exercise, you eat more, and you feel depressed,” she says. Depression is directly linked to an increase in heart disease, which is a leading cause of death for women.
For this reason, connecting people seamlessly with much-needed menopause care is powerful.
Midday’s Amazon Web Services–compliant app enables direct communication with health coaches and physicians via both chat and Zoom. Subscribers access Midday via an online portal or iOS app, and can choose to track vitals such as sleep, heart rate and body temperature for a fuller picture with wearable devices. AI and machine learning then generate predictive, preventive, patient-specific guidance.
Broadening Access to Better Menopause Care
At Northwell Health, benefits-enrolled employees and their spouses have access to Upliv, a menopause-focused virtual care platform launched in 2022.
“We noticed an opportunity to help healthcare organizations more holistically support the health of their female employees, especially with the issue of burnout and retention following the pandemic,” says Upliv CEO Allison Schoeneck.
Patients can contact their self-selected care team — which includes a doctor or nurse practitioner and a health coach — via chat, phone, text or email. The web-based platform employs a combination of proprietary, patient-focused front-end software and off-the-shelf messaging, scheduling and e-prescribing solutions to offer its users video consults, prescription and treatment paths, and a robust library with AI-powered content delivery.
Because of its success at Northwell, Upliv is currently expanding its offerings to other employers.
What Happens When Preventive Care Goes Virtual?
Aetna recently added virtual menopause clinic Gennev to its nationwide in-network healthcare offerings. Founded in 2016 by CEO Jill Angelo, Gennev provides patients with access to physicians, dieticians and mental health providers via its Google Cloud–based telehealth web platform.
“Menopause care is perfect for telehealth because so much of it is a conversation between patient and provider,” Angelo says.
Another benefit: It is low-cost preventive care rather than high-cost acute care.
“Women in menopause with unaddressed symptoms increase healthcare costs by 47 percent,” Angelo adds. “Our care model costs an insurance plan $500 to $700 annually compared with $1,200 for standard in-person care.”