For couples dealing with infertility, the cost of fertility treatment can be significant. While numerous variables need to be considered when estimating the cost of treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF), estimates put the price on the order of $12,000-$14,000, and sometimes even higher. This does not include the added cost of medications, which themselves range between $3,000-$5,000. While other treatment options exist at a lower cost, such as ovarian stimulation plus intrauterine insemination (IUI), these options are considered less effective. Clinical study results from the University of California published in journal Fertility and Sterility in 2010 documented a correlation between the cost of treatment and successful outcomes, defined as delivery or ongoing pregnancy at 18 months. For readers trying to assess their personal cost for fertility treatments, check out this free calculator.

Seeking to offer a new comprehensive solution for affordable fertility care is the Glow Fertility Program. Created by Glow, the largest fertility community of over 10 million women in the US, the fertility program provides families with a holistic, one-stop-shop for their fertility treatment with services such as fertility coaching, access to fertility clinics and pharmacies, reduced pricing on fertility treatment and medication, concierge medication services, and transparent financing options. Examples of average treatment costs and savings patients can realize through Glow include:

  • IVF: $10,000 through Glow, $4,000 savings
  • Egg freezing: $7,000 through Glow, $3,000 savings
  • IUI: $1,200 through Glow, $300 savings

As a platform, Glow not only supports individuals struggling with infertility, but offers solutions for all stages of a woman’s life. Perhaps most notable are Glow’s four mobile apps:

  • Glow: ovulation and fertility tracker
  • Glow Nurture: pregnancy tracker
  • Glow Baby: baby tracker
  • Eve by Glow: period tracker and sex tips

Glow originally spun out of PayPal Co-Founder and CTO Max Levchin’s business incubator, HVF, as did Affirm through which the Glow Fertility Program is able to offer monthly payment financing options with 6.99%-16% APR. Levchin is currently Chairman of Glow and CEO of Affirm.

To learn more about the Glow Fertility Program, Medgadget heard from three individuals representing three different perspectives: (1) Dr. Beth McAvey, Reproductive Endocrinologist and Fertility Specialist at Reproductive Medical Associates of New York, (2) Eniko, a Glow Fertility Program patient who recently gave birth to the program’s first baby, and (3) Jennifer Tye, Chief Operating Officer at Glow.

Clinical Perspective

Michael Batista, Medgadget: For our readers who have not had to personally live with infertility, can you shed some light on the physical and emotional challenges associated with the inability to conceive children?

Dr. Beth McAvey, Reproductive Endocrinologist and Fertility Specialist, RMA of NY

Dr. Beth McAvey: Infertility presents tremendous challenges to patients and couples. There is a biological imperative to reproduce and often the fear of it not working provokes feelings of anxiety. In addition, the combination of financial concerns, the burden of treatment, which may include injections, blood tests, procedures, and multiple office visits, and other personal sacrifices can lead to more stress for patients and couples. Patients who undergo fertility treatments often require extra support and can benefit from understanding and compassion.

Medgadget: What options do individuals struggling with infertility have today?

Dr. McAvey: Treatment options for infertile patients have expanded and there are more options available than ever before. Not only can the diagnostic part of the evaluation be quick and targeted, but treatment can be focused and data-driven. It is not uncommon for a couple to have a precise reason for their infertility pin-pointed at the first visit and treatment initiated within a month of a new patient consultation. Treatment options generally include inseminations or assisted reproductive technologies like in-vitro fertilization (IVF). In this new era of personalized medicine, IVF involves genetically identifying healthy embryos and transferring one into the uterus at the perfect time. Success rates for patients of all ages are higher than ever before.

Medgadget: What does it mean to “preserve fertility?” Why is the number of individuals choosing to preserve their fertility on the rise?

Dr. McAvey: Fertility preservation usually refers to egg freezing. Single women or women who would like to delay pregnancy for other reasons may opt to go through a series of injections that will can result in having several eggs retrieved and frozen for future use. The eggs can be stored until the individual is ready to have a family. Most commonly, women in their 30s are freezing eggs, but younger and older patients have options, as well. Furthermore, couples who would like to delay or plan for future pregnancies may opt to have embryos, eggs fertilized by sperm, frozen.

Medgadget: What do you see as the biggest benefit and potential impact of the Glow Fertility Program?

Dr. McAvey: Fertility treatments are accompanied by emotional, physical, and often financial burdens. Through partnerships with customized fertility programs such as the Glow Fertility Program, we have been able to help patients overcome these hurdles and successfully achieve pregnancies. The Glow Fertility Program is of great benefit to patients because it makes fertility treatment more accessible by helping to lower the cost of treatment and medication as well as providing financing options. The program also provides the emotional support of an experienced Glow Fertility Coach who can help patients navigate the fertility treatment process 24/7.

Patient Perspective

Medgadget: Congratulations on your successful pregnancy and the birth of your baby! We’d love to hear a little about your story. Before your involvement in the Glow Fertility Program, were you considering any infertility treatment options?

Eniko, Glow Fertility Program Patient

Eniko: After two years of trying unsuccessfully to conceive, we decided to try IVF while living in Hungary. We were very happy, because we got pregnant on our first try, but unfortunately after the full term pregnancy we lost our baby girl to Apert Syndrome. This happened because there was no genetic testing such as PGD or PGS available in Hungary and we didn’t have any genetic history of family illness.

Anxiety from this tragedy has never left my mind and heart. However, after healing, we started to rebuild our future again and I couldn’t imagine our life without a child. I was always worried in back of my head about what could happen next, but we never gave up. After moving to the US, I made two trips to Hungary in hopes of achieving a successful IVF, but both attempts failed, leading us to the decision to try IVF in the US.

Our biggest challenge was finding the best doctor and clinic for us. You’re trying to make the best decision for your future baby – so finding the right doctor near you is extremely important.

Medgadget: How did you find out about the Glow Fertility Program? Can you share a little about the process of working with Glow?

Eniko: After several hours spent searching for the best possible solution, I found the Glow app. I started to use the fertility app to track my ovulation. This was when I received an invitation to a free seminar where I met my future doctor. I also met my Glow Fertility Coach at the event. Her story gave me strength to continue with Glow and helped me believe that we could be successful – she had gone through 6 rounds of IVF to conceive her 2 children.

Working with Glow was the smoothest experience during our entire treatment process. They not only helped with the emotional aspects of the process but also the financial aspects.

Medgadget: What parts of the Glow Fertility Program were the most beneficial for you and your family?

Eniko: Thanks to the coaches at the Glow Fertility Program, we found a doctor and clinic that was a great match for us: Dr. Shamonki at Fertility Specialists and Associates of California. Our doctor went through our history extensively and ordered tests that were never available to us before to ensure our baby’s health.

The Glow Fertility Program negotiated the price with the clinic, and all payments were made through them. We even saved money by paying through Glow, rather than to the clinic directly. We always felt safe and secure with a Glow Fertility Coach guiding us.

Medgadget: Would you recommend the Glow Fertility Program to others? What would you tell individuals out there who are considering infertility treatment and might be scared or apprehensive about beginning the process?

Eniko: I would definitely recommend the Glow Fertility program to others because of the emotional and financial support you receive.

For people considering fertility treatment, never give up! We are one of the examples who were lucky on our 4th try. I always trusted Dr. Shamonki’s suggestions which resulted in one healthy embryo – a girl! I never believed the saying, “it only takes one,” but it really only takes one. My personal advice to all the couples is to support one another, relax, and always remember to be a warrior – not a worrier.

Business Perspective

Medgadget: What inspired Glow to build a program to make infertility treatment more affordable?

Jennifer Tye, COO at Glow

Jennifer Tye: The Glow app aims to help women who are trying to conceive. However, at some point we know that if a woman is struggling to conceive an app is no longer helpful and she should seek the help of a fertility specialist. We firmly believe that everyone should have the right to start a family on his or her own timeline, but we also know that the cost of seeking fertility treatment can be prohibitively expensive. The average cost of IVF in the US is $14,000 and the cost of medication can add another $4,000 – $5,000 while the average cost of egg freezing is $10,000 and the cost of medication can add another ~$4,000. To put this into perspective, the cost for IVF is essentially half the estimated amount of disposable income for the average U.S. household. We knew there was a major need to make treatment more accessible to people who need it the most.

Medgadget: Can you walk us through the typical process of engaging in the Glow Fertility Program?

Tye: It’s very easy to join the Glow Fertility Program – a first of its kind, comprehensive fertility program! You can get started by visiting the Glow Fertility Program website and getting a free consultation. You will then be connected with a Glow Fertility Coach who can help you find the best clinic or doctor for your situation. Our coaches will also walk you through what you can expect from an initial consult, help you understand any costs that may be involved, and help you to prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor. Once you’ve had an initial consult, you can determine your treatment plan with your doctor and receive Glow’s favorable pricing, all while getting support from our knowledgeable and supportive Fertility Coaches along the way.

Medgadget: How is Glow able to so significantly cut the cost of infertility treatment and infertility medications for patients?

Tye: The Glow community is over 13 million users strong and growing! It’s through the power of this community that we’re able to negotiate savings at clinics and pharmacies that we share with our patients. Not only do our patients receive savings, they also have access to our amazing Glow Fertility Coaches. These coaches have seen it all when it comes to fertility treatment and preservation, so they’re incredibly valuable resources to our patients.

Medgadget: Why has no one done anything like this before? How is Glow best positioned to address the challenges of unaffordable infertility treatment and support?

Tye: For the last five years, we’ve been working with women who are trying to conceive, and we’ve learned a lot in that time – including how to best help women who are struggling to conceive naturally. We’ve seen that for many couples, conceiving naturally is just not possible, and we knew that we wanted to make fertility treatment more accessible to everyone who may need it.

First, we’re able to help support our users by alleviating some of the financial burden by negotiating special pricing with top clinics across the country. And second, we’re able to provide crucial information to our users through Glow Fertility Program events and webinars and individualized coaching from our Glow Fertility Coaches. Most of our Fertility Coaches have personal experience with fertility treatments or preservation and provide invaluable emotional support to our patients during what can be an extremely stressful journey. They’re also available after hours to answer any questions that may come up for patients.

While the need for a program like this has existed for many years, it’s difficult for individuals to advocate for themselves when it comes to pricing and treatment support. That’s where Glow can come in since we work with so many patients, clinics, and pharmacies across the country.

XACT Robotics out of Caesarea, Israel won EU approval to introduce its needle steering and insertion system for percutaneous procedures including biopsies and ablations. The robotic device gives physicians a more accurate and precise way of moving needles toward difficult to reach targets. The robot is placed on the patient during a procedure and it works in conjunction with a CT scanner and planning software to make sure the needle moves as desired.

The system takes into account patient breathing and other body movements and compensates for those. If the system detects that the needle is outside the planned pathway, which it does nearly immediately, the path can be corrected without having to move the patient or reinsert the needle.

The movement of the needle is controlled using five degrees-of-freedom of the robot, which is done from the comfort of a control room overlooking the operating table. As the needle proceeds, the physician has real-time control of its movements and can stop or adjust its trajectory at any time and with great precision.

“Currently, manual navigation of needles for biopsies and needle-based tools for procedures such as abscess drainage and tumor ablation, which are guided by imaging technologies, requires a high level of expertise and presents multiple challenges such as the need to construct a precise needle trajectory in 3D to avoid damaging critical intervening structures while simultaneously needing to compensate for target movement due to patient movements or breathing,” said Professor Nahum Goldberg, M.D., Head of Interventional Oncology Unit and Director of the Applied Radiology Research Lab at Hadassah Medical Center, Israel. “XACT’s solution has thus far demonstrated the potential to successfully addresses these challenges, by integrating robotic needle navigation and steering capabilities to achieve accurate access to a target within the body. We are very pleased with the results from the initial clinical procedures we performed as part of the trial, which further confirm the <1.5mm accuracy findings of the preclinical studies.”

TransEnterix, the maker of the Senhance robotic surgical system, won FDA clearance for its new 3 millimeter line of instruments, as well as some more 5 mm instruments.

At only 3 mm in diameter, the new instruments make it possible to use the Senhance system for microlaparoscopic surgeries with incisions so small that, once healed, are nearly invisible.

“Utilizing 3 millimeter micro instruments on a robotic system represents a new advancement in reducing the invasiveness of many surgeries,” in a published statement said Dr. Steven D. McCarus, MD, FACOG, Chief of Gynecologic Surgery at Florida Hospital Celebration Health. “Patients find such small incisions to be virtually scarless and cosmetically desirable. Surgeons may find that using such tiny instruments with the precision and control of a digital interface makes microlaparoscopy a preferred option to treat more conditions.”

GE Healthcare is unveiling its brand new Invenia Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS) 2.0 in the U.S. It is the only FDA approved “ultrasound supplemental breast screening technology,” which allows for spotting of cancerous lesions within dense breast tissue, according to GE.

Since dense breast tissue is similar in density to tumors, the two can be hard to differentiate using a mammogram. At the same time, dense breast tissue is a risk factor for the development of breast cancer, so the two facts together compound the problem for about 40% of women with dense breasts.

According to GE, its ABUS technology, when used along with mammography “can improve breast cancer detection by 55 percent over mammography alone.”

The new device automates a lot of what was previously a manual process, such as setting focal zones and gain. There’s no image modification required at all from the operator, so regardless of who is using the machine the results stay consistent.

The system still delivers compression similar to a mammogram, but it’s applied different and while the patient lies on her back.

“We believe ABUS can help clinicians find significantly more cancers than mammography alone, especially in women with dense breasts,” said Luke Delaney, general manager of Automated Breast Ultrasound at GE Healthcare, in a published statement. “As breast ultrasound technology continues to advance, we are investing to continually improve image quality, workflow and patient comfort – all of which contribute to early detection and improved outcomes.”

These days patients that are still in the womb have their heart rates measured on a regular basis to spot conditions such as fetal bradycardia or tachycardia or decreased variability. This is typically done in a hospital using specialty equipment that is too expensive for use in the home. Now researchers at the University of Essex in the UK have developed a new sensor that can be by the pregnant mother at home while achieving an accuracy that rivals that of in-clinic equipment.

Existing fetal monitoring relies on silver chloride electrodes and ultrasound, but the U of Essex device works like an electrometer using so-called Electric Potential Sensing (EPS) technology. This allows their prototype to be positioned directly on the pregnant woman’s abdomen to measure the heart rate without having to use a gel or having electronic leads snaking to another device. The new sensors are an improvement on existing at-home fetal heart rate monitors that simply don’t provide a level of accuracy that can be relied on by clinicians.

“This technology is a step forward for home-based medical devices, benefiting not only health service providers though resource optimization, but also expectant mothers who are experiencing a very exciting, but sometimes stressful, moment in their lives,” said Dr Rodrigo Aviles-Espinosa, a co-author of the study appearing in journal AIP Advances.

“Currently expectant mothers with health concerns about their babies have to go through the stress of going to hospital to check on the heartbeat of their child,” said Dr Rendon-Morales, another researchers on the project. “With this new technology, they will be able to do this from the comfort of their own home, which will be much better for the welfare of mother and baby.”

Levita Magnetics, a Silicon Valley firm, won FDA clearance to introduce its Levita Magnetic Surgical System for use in bariatric procedures. Previously, the magnetically controlled surgical device has only had clearance in the U.S. for performing cholecystectomies (gallbladder removal).

The system consists of a small metallic clasping tool that is placed within the treatment area via a laparoscopy port, which was already created for another instrument used during the procedure. It is delivered using a traditional shaft and made to grasp onto soft tissue. Once positioned, the shaft is removed and from there the device can be pulled on while inside the body using an external magnet. This trick can be used to reposition the stomach or mesentery or other mobile internal structure to be able to perform various procedures without having to create an extra access port, which leaves a scar on the body.

Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed a new device to cultivate and test both atrial and ventricular cardiac tissue in the lab. The device, called Biowire II, consists of two elastic polymer wires which are positioned three millimeters apart, with a small band of cardiac tissue grown between them. A “training” regimen using electrical pulse stimulation is then applied for approximately six weeks, which promotes cardiac maturation and makes it more analogous to true tissue. As the tissue contracts, bending of the elastic polymer wires allows researchers to determine the force of the contractions.

While the group believes that the device will have applicability in a number of areas, they see it being particularly useful in the testing for potential drug candidates. A problem with in vitro testing of the cardiac toxicity of drugs is that the actual cardiac function of the tissue cannot be tested when looking at cells grown in a Petri dish. The Biowire II device provides the ability to test the functional effects of a drug on the tissue, providing a more comprehensive test of the drug candidate.

Lab-grown heart tissue, suspended between two strands made of an elastic polymer, beats inside the Biowire II. The platform both incubates the cells and measures how strongly they are contracting in real time. (Image: Yimu Zhao)

The group also foresees the application of the device in personalized medicine. In a test involving randomized samples from both healthy controls and patients with left ventricular hypertrophy, the lab used the device to determine which samples belonged to the patient group based on loss of contractility, which is an indication of the disease. With the ability to accurately model the cardiac function of individual patients, labs could study the progression of a disease in a particular patient or test a variety of potential treatments to determine which are most likely to be effective.

The device is currently being used by TARA Biosystems to test cardiac drugs on lab grown heart tissue for pharmaceutical companies. The researchers believe that because of the simplicity of the Biowire II system, it will be relatively easy to scale up the technology for more efficient and rapid testing.

MELBOURNE, FEBRUARY 19, 2019: Hemideina, a hearing solutions company focussed on the development and commmericalisation of the Hera Wireless Implant, announced today that it successfully raised a Series A investment of $1 million in their first round of equity financing.

The financing will enable Hemideina’s continued research and development of the Hera Wireless Implant in preparation for clinical testing, market development activities and the broadening of the company’s IP portfolio.

Dr Elizabeth Williams, CEO and Co-Founder of Hemideina said: “Our pioneering innovation will significantly disrupt the global hearing implant market by removing current technical barriers to miniaturisation, battery life and sound quality. We’re excited to have investment partners on board that bring global experience in medical devices, strategy and commercialisation to help us achieve our mission. This support will help accelerate our vision of bringing novel technologies to the hearing impaired to vastly improve their lives.”

Dr Kate Lomas, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, invented the Hemideina technology, having taken inspiration from insect hearing. Kate holds a PhD in Biology from Auckland University. Her research has focused on the investigation of insect hearing systems leading to the development of new acoustic technology that will transform hearing implants and the quality of life for the profoundly deaf.

Andrew Maxwell, Managing Director of Chatsworth Associates, will join Hemideina’s Board of Directors as Chairman. He said: “I am excited to be supporting the team with this ground- breaking, Melbourne-based technology. Hemideina has developed unique intellectual property that will challenge the incumbent 40-year old approach to hearing solutions for the profoundly deaf. The global hearing implant market is a large and attractive one, that is currently dominated by Cochlear, Sonova and Med-El.” Mr Maxwell said.

Hemideina also welcomes Dr. Anna Lavelle to the Board as a Non-Executive Director. Dr. Lavelle provides over 25 years’ experience in healthcare delivery, technology development and industry policy for not-for-profit, for profit and government entities. Dr. Lavelle was recently awarded the Johnson and Johnson/AusBiotech “Industry Leader of the Year” and is recognised as one of the global top 100 “World Visionaries” in biotechnology.
About Hemideina

Founded in 2017 with a mission to revolutionise hearing for the profoundly deaf, Hemideina takes inspiration form biological systems to deliver solutions in human hearing. Hemideina’s Hera Wireless Implant is based on the company’s proprietary signal processing technology and is set to disrupt the hearing implant market worth $1.8bn.

Board-certified music therapist Jenna Bollard softly sings to a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. Bollard is leading a study examining a device that helps premature babies develop the skills necessary to orally feed using a lullaby sung by their parents.

Babies born prematurely often have a poorly developed sucking reflex, leaving them struggling to eat. A device called a Pacifier-Activated Lullaby (PAL) is now being tested at the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital to see whether it can teach preemies to suck for milk through a bit of gentle behavioral modification.

A baby in the neonatal intensive care unit at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital is given a pacifier that plays a lullaby sung by her parents when she sucks on it. The device helps preemies develop the skills necessary to feed while giving parents a way to bond with their babies when they can’t be there.

Babies love lullabies, and it is hoped that they love them so much that they’ll work for them. The PAL is a pacifier that can detect whether a baby is sucking on it, and in turn the baby gets to hear a lullaby. The lullabies are pre-recorded and can be sung by the parents, to encourage the kids to connect with family that might not always be around while they’re in the neonatal unit.

The clinicians are still testing the technology, but so far they have shown that about 70% of preemies improve their use of a pacifier when using the PAL. In the process, it helps create an emotional connection and provides an active way for parents and the kids to participate.

The HemaShock is a tight silicone ring attached to a pressure stocking. It comes wrapped into a doughnut and has a set of handles. The operator simply puts the doughnut over the foot or hand, and pulls on the handles to unravel the HemaShock while applying pressure throughout the appendage.

It only takes one person about thirty seconds to put on the HemaShock, so about a minute for a set of two, which should be sufficient in most cases.

It’s indicated for patients who have systolic blood pressure of less than 80 mm Hg caused by hemodynamic shock or circulatory arrest, and can be applied even while the patient is being transported inside an ambulance. It costs only $175 per set, according to ISRAEL21c.