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Fertility Tech in 2023: Home, Personalization, and Accessibility

Since the first baby was born via in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 1978, more than 8 million babies have been born using this technology worldwide. Although the success rate of in vitro fertilization has improved since it was first introduced, only about one-third of patients currently have live births.

“For patients, assisted reproductive technology is prohibitively expensive, often requires multiple attempts, is physically and emotionally taxing, and is still rarely covered by insurance.” Paxton Maeder-York, CEO and Founder of Alife Health, said:

Equitable access and affordability to fertility space remains a barrier to IVF. In the United States, he is reported to be the only 1 in 25 couples who receive necessary fertility treatment. An average IVF cycle costs between $15,000 and $30,000, limiting the number of people with access to quality care.

“People want fertility treatments to be accessible, affordable, effective and less stressful.” Meir Orcha, Fertility Specialist, Mira Medical Advisor, Medical Director, Sama Fertility, said: “This is where technology can become a game changer in our field.”

Consumers, Clinicians, Care

Within the clinical setting, it is recognized that, historically, research and development (R&D) in women’s health and infertility has been underfunded. Recent advances are therefore largely due to private sector fertility clinics. However, the field has recently received more attention from investors and tech innovators, many of whom are motivated by personal experience.

“Despite amazing advances in assisted reproductive technology over the past few decades, the results are still frustratingly suboptimal.” says Gary Nakhuda, co-founder of Canada’s Olive Fertility Center. So, even with only slightly improved success rates, there is continued demand for the latest innovations.

Beyond results, the primary expectation is to improve the overall patient experience during fertility treatment. Clinics face significant obstacles in providing the best possible fertility treatment. . A successful pregnancy with IVF depends on a complex series of clinical decisions that doctors make to provide the best care for each patient.

“There is evidence that major stressors for patients are frequent clinic visits, invasive tests, and communication problems with clinic staff during treatment,” said Nakhuda. . Focusing on the operational aspects of care delivery is critical to reducing patient dropout and maintaining care engagement. “Very often it’s the key to persistence until a successful outcome is reached,” says Nakda.

Fertility tools moving the field forward

New technologies that optimize clinical care and improve clinic operations will help advance the field and help more patients achieve outcomes. “Today, there is no integrated technology platform that can help physicians optimize these decisions and improve the patient experience,” he says.

From a technology perspective, the latest advances in fertility care are focused on bringing clinical data and workflows into the digital age. Electronic witness systems, robotic cryopreservation systems, and artificial intelligence-driven (AI) tools that use barcodes to better track sperm, eggs, and embryos are helping improve reproductive health.

Today’s sophisticated tools build on the last decade’s advances in three major categories: embryology laboratories, home testing and monitoring, and AI. The post-pandemic situation expands opportunities as people embrace telemedicine and virtual medicine, accelerating the trend towards home testing.

“All advancements aim for the same thing: improving the quality of care and efficiency of clinics through data and software technology.” says Meader-York.

Overcome the limits of current technology

In vitro fertilization is still an important and relatively new medical field that is still developing rapidly. Advanced analytics and improvements enabled by AI will have a significant impact on the continued evolution of what the process looks like to patients,” says Meader-York. By aggregating and interpreting data, AI could help improve fertility outcomes, reduce costs, and make the entire IVF process more transparent.

“The age and limits of human biology are the most difficult challenges,” says Nakhuda. But even a simple hormone test, such as anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), early testing can help make reproductive decisions. It is hoped that new knowledge will help further individualize treatment.

Sophisticated reproductive health technology offers an opportunity to advance fertility. Moving to a patient-centered approach and combining insightful clinic and patient collaboration may lead to a more supported, holistic and positive IVF experience.

Alife Health research shows that, on average, clinics spend three weeks combined each quarter for staff mining data and writing reports. While vast amounts of data are available, the problem of sorting, extracting, and digesting them into actionable insights is rife. Technology that collects, digitizes, organizes and presents critical information in real-time has been installed in clinics to bring important fertility information and trends to the fore.

In a study conducted by Brand, researchers found that using a machine learning model to select the initiation of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) reduced the amount of initiation FSH used and the amount of total FSH, while reducing the amount of the optimal test. He says he can achieve results.

Additionally, embryologists typically have a manual process for reporting embryo quality. They grade the embryos while looking through a microscope, transcribe the information into an electronic medical record (EMR) system, and generate reports. Embryo image capture systems can simplify image capture, storage, and organization of embryo images while improving the efficiency of the grading process by synchronizing with EMR.

Increased fertility

Digital-first care delivery is becoming a priority. However, unlike his platform, which is purely digital health for functions such as drug prescribing, fertility treatments must be tied to brick-and-mortar facilities where treatments can be physically delivered, Nakhuda said. say. The innovative platform enables remote testing, monitoring and decentralization of many of the patient offloading processes.

During IVF, medical professionals such as doctors, laboratory technicians, and embryologists have to make many decisions to increase the patient’s chances of success. “IVF is not a single medical procedure for treating infertility, but a complex series of procedures.” says Meader-York.

In designing AI-driven fertility tools, Alife Health helps physicians and fertility professionals optimize a patient’s IVF process for optimal overall treatment outcomes and lower overall treatment costs. and make it accessible to more people as the need grows.

In March 2022, Alife Health received a $22 million investment. Since then, the AI-driven brand has moved from the research and development phase to early traction and commercialization, with the goal of creating a complete operating system for the next generation of his IVF care delivery. Alife Health plans to launch two patient products in 2023. These products are focused on providing health equity in the field of IVF by helping people wherever they seek treatment.

Following the trend of remote monitoring at home, the Mira device enables quantitative measurement of hormones in urine as opposed to the inconvenient and painful traditional blood sampling approach. Coordination between fertility technology and clinics is also one of her ways to improve reproductive health outcomes and outcomes for her patients. The fertility technology brand has partnered with fertility clinics in the United States, Canada and Australia to make fertility treatment more accessible by reducing patient visits and minimizing examination costs. doing.

Canadian fertility clinic Olive Fertility Center recently completed a trial in IVF patients in collaboration with Mira. This study showed that the kinetics of urinary estrogen measured with this device were comparable to those measured with serum estrogen, suggesting that home urine monitoring could be replaced by a blood test for patients undergoing IVF. It has proven to be a valuable alternative.

The future of fertility treatment

“We’re just getting started,” says Nakhuda, but advanced technologies like AI can help with everything from choosing the best treatment options to administering medication protocols, interpreting imaging results, and predicting gamete and embryo quality. It seems that there are many examples of its use in fertility treatment.

As healthcare widely recognizes their value, we can expect more patients to take advantage of these advanced technologies and advocate for wider adoption.

“There is no reason to believe that it does not go beyond, or at least optimize, human decisions, which are constantly subject to bias and noise.” Nakda says. As such, automated experimental techniques are on the horizon. Implementing these innovations will optimize outcomes and expand access to care, thus overcoming the shortage of trained providers and scientists needed for these complex tasks.

The potential for home ultrasounds that can be self-administered by the patient and remotely interpreted by the doctor is now a possibility. “This is a big step forward in making hormone tracking during fertility treatment more patient-friendly, convenient and less intrusive,” she says.

Soon, patients will no longer have to wait months to get a diagnosis, leave their homes and travel extensively to receive excellent medical care. This is an era where patients are diagnosed faster and treated better as access improves,” Orcha said.

Personalized fertility treatment is the next breakthrough field.Call it the “quantum leap” Nakhuda says genomics will continue to have implications for fertility treatment, enabling truly personalized medicine, screening for reproductive risk factors, and improved selection of healthy embryos.

Growing awareness of infertility and of fertility-preserving strategies such as oocyte and embryo vitrification are also at the forefront of development. Reproductive health experts hope it may also help alleviate the formidable biological limits of age.

As new technologies are developed, there is a need to ensure that tests are validated and effective, whether in the lab or on patients. “We need to ensure that at-home testing technology is at least as accurate, if not more accurate, than the gold-standard testing currently in use,” he said.

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