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The femtech start-up tackling gender bias in healthcare

Despite accounting for roughly half of the world’s population, women must continually overcome hurdles before receiving adequate treatment. Tia is fighting to close the gap.

Though women’s health is undergoing a generational culture shift that’s prompted more open discourse around historically stigmatised concerns regarding our wombs, we continue to find it much harder than men to have our bodies understood within the medical sphere.

Constantly dismissed by both male and female physicians (I speak from personal experience), the gender health gap is a prevalent issue that sees us taken less seriously by professionals, particularly in the field of female-specific illnesses such as endometriosis, perimenopause, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

With receiving a diagnosis – let alone adequate treatment – an all but impossible feat, we are instead conditioned to believe that pain and discomfort are normal.

This, of course, is severely impacting our mental wellbeing.

Yet, as I mentioned, the tide is turning and there’s a chance we won’t be compelled to suffer in silence any longer. Why? Because technology geared towards our womb-related needs is booming.

Part of a sector that’s forecast to triple in value to $60 billion by 2027, Tia is a femtech start-up seeking to improve the lives of women by offering them the integrative support they deserve.

In doing so, it’s shedding light on an area of healthcare that’s been grossly neglected and underfunded for far too long.

‘We wanted to see what healthcare would look like, work like, and feel like if it were actually designed with woman at the centre, treating them as whole people versus parts,’ says CEO Carolyn Witte, who was exposed to the fragmented system’s challenges when she was forced to self-diagnose with PCOS in 2015.

The app’s initial focus was to provide women with gynaecological advice.

However, fuelled by Witte’s (and co founder Felicity Yost’s) belief that medicine shouldn’t be ‘one-size-fits-all,’ Tia has since developed into an ecosystem of products, tools and services designed to make women feel heard throughout their lifetime, not solely during a single reproductive stage or ailment.

‘Our vision is to replace transactional, condition-based healthcare with relationship-based care that can cater to women from puberty to menopause,’ adds Witte.

‘We know when we make healthcare work better for women, it works better for families, for communities — for everyone.’

For $150 a year (Tia works on a membership model), women have access to the company’s clinics as well as unlimited messaging with the team online, and can also book same-day appointments with in-house experts including therapists.

If its current rates hold, Tia expects to have more than 15,000 members by the end of the year with a goal of hitting 100,000 members by the end of 2023.

But one frontier it’ll have to cross to become the paradigm for modern female healthcare – as it touts itself – is smart design and technology.

Fortunately, its three brick-and-mortar locations (and counting with plans to open another 15 in 2022) prove this is the case.

Looking like the inside of a trendy pop-up in NYC, they offer smooth, comfortable speculums and cancer-screening bras to replace the drastically outdated utensils and machinery designed by men decades ago.

We are, after all, entitled to services that suit (and fit) our bodies.

‘We can’t just be this information front door and then refer women into the healthcare system that they hate,’ finishes Witte.

‘We need to actually become the healthcare system and actually change the way care is delivered.’

 

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