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There are many reasons why families choose to have children later –- work commitments, economic stability, resources, but the knock-on effect is that more and more couples are turning to IVF to help them achieve their goals. It’s a stressful process, which is exacerbated by the fact that there are so many unknowns; from what medication regimen to choose to the lack of transparency around costs. Even if your insurance covers IVF (which not all do) there are numerous clauses; IVF, but only up to $20,000, IVF, but no medication coverage (which can be $4-$8,000) and so on. Even in Silicon Valley, with startups famous for their great health benefits and fertility coverage, this becomes an issue. “I just hate not knowing what the end price is,” one techie told me. “In any other industry, this would be unacceptable.”
Companies that offer clarity in this space are in high demand, so it’s not surprising that Univfy, a California startup, is becoming a welcome addition to this space. Their solution is AI-powered fertility prediction – basically, machine learning for wombs. Founded in 2009 by Dr. Mylene Yao, a Stanford trained gynecologist and obstetrician and Wing Wong, a Stanford professor of statistics and health research, the pair have raised $6 million so far.
What Univfy offers is a two-part solution. The first part is the IVF analytics. The Univfy PreIVF report is a predictive test, which provides fertility answers unique to each patient. Taking data from patients lab tests, BMI, age, fertility history and more, they crunch the numbers using a boosting tree statistical method to give an IVF success prediction. They say the difference is in the details – they’re not giving an average, but tailoring it to each patient. With this information, people can make a choice about whether they want to proceed or not. The report indicates whether a second IVF treatment will be successful and so on – are your odds 50-50 or 80-20 per cycle, for example.
Currently, there is no easy personalized way of understanding the success of individual’s IVF treatment. The main factor used is age – essentially, the older the woman, the lower the number of eggs. But that doesn’t account for the differences in ovary aging – some women will be very fertile till late in life, and some won’t. They say their test is “1000 times more accurate than the age estimations.” It’s not a magic bullet; if your chances are low, the test will reflect that, but information is power.
The second part that Univfy addresses are the cost of treatments. In recent years, some clinics have offered “no baby, no fee” refund policies. However, to qualify for this, you often need to pass a certain age or clinical criteria. Univfy says their data can help women qualify for these programs who might previously have been rejected, and are working with clinics to include their prediction model in patient assessment – for example, their data might suggest you’ll get pregnant on a second cycle, so not to give up yet. They have a cost calculator here for people who are too far from their participating clinics – check your closest one here.
The IVF market is growing –- the market’s expected to rise from $2.37 billion in 2018 to $5.06 billion in 2023, with a CAGR of 16.4% according to Orbis Research. Hopefully, Univfy will be one more tool in the fight against infertility.
Credit: Google News