Midi Health, a virtual care clinic that makes expert care accessible and affordable for women experiencing hormonal changes of middle age, today announced a $ 14 million seed funding round, led by Felicis and SemperVirens. Additional investments come from major investors in the women’s health sector, including Emerson Collective, Icon Ventures, Operator Collective, Muse Capital, SteelSky Ventures, and Anne and Susan Wojcicki.
All of Midi’s services are covered by insurance (currently only available in California, with nationwide expansion plans in early 2023) and offer convenient access to clinical care through telemedicine visits, 24/7 messaging days a week, simplified testing and home delivery of prescriptions and supplements.
“Our goal is to provide high quality care accessible to all women. Therefore, we have insurance contracts with all major carriers in California, including Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Cigna, Health Net and UnitedHealthcare, ”shares Joanna Strober, co-founder and CEO of Midi Health.
The Mayo Clinic estimates that approximately 6,000 American women reach menopause every day (over 2 million annually), and while this statistic would not be alarming if adequate health care were available for these women, the real problem lies in the fact that a shocking 73% of women aged 40 to 65 are currently not treating symptoms of menopause (commonly including hot flashes, vaginal dryness and painful sex, mental health / mood disorders, brain fog, abnormal uterine bleeding, bone loss and more), with further 65% confirming that they would not consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as a treatment.
To show the extent of this alarming state of our health care for middle-aged women, a Yale University review of the insurance claims of more than 500,000 women in various stages of menopause said that while 60% of women with symptoms significant menopause goes to the doctor, almost 3/4 of them are not treated. Downstream effects of untreated symptoms include a higher risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and cognitive decline. Employees with significant menopausal symptoms have 45% more medical bills and 50% more pharmaceutical bills.
Now THIS is a problem.
From patients to founders
Like many of the startup founders in the women’s health industry who experienced problems firsthand before embarking on a journey to try and fix them on their own, Midi Health’s founding team also learned how debilitating menopause symptoms can be and how much it is difficult to find cure for them, because they have experienced everything on their own, personally.
“We have opened up about our challenges; then we got curious; then we got angry; then we got excited. Midi is the result, ”adds Strober.
Strober stopped sleeping suddenly at the age of 47, but had no idea his hormones were to blame because he was still menstruating. She visited several doctors: some prescribed sleeping pills, others told her to see a psychiatrist and others offered her nothing and told her to live with it. “It took me a year to find a concierge menopausal specialist who would link my hormone problems in one visit and give me hormone replacement therapy that fixed my problem in a week. All this time, I was talking to other women with exactly the same problem who were also misdiagnosed and found no relief. “
The CFO and co-founder of Midi Health, Sharon Meers, was assaulted by strange symptoms in middle age, from dizziness to osteoporosis, to moodiness, and participated in the same carousel of specialists before finding doctors who knew they were all connected to the menopause in various ways. A combination of hormone replacement therapy, non-hormone prescriptions, supplements, and changes in her lifestyle makes her feel even better in her 50s than in the last few decades. “But I should have gotten answers and solutions first,” she confesses.
The chief medical officer, Dr. Kathleen Jordan, was unable to access specialized treatment for menopause despite being a senior executive in a health care system and herself a prominent physician. It took her many months to put together a treatment plan for her relatively simple and common symptoms. She was referred for a full heart exam for her hot flashes and sweats, as well as a number of other specialist visits. “Eventually I had to send medical literature to my doctor with the science-backed, guideline-guided prescriptions I needed, which brought relief within days.”
Chief Brand Officer Jill Herzig went into menopause early, before age 45, and her gynecologist didn’t even ask her about symptoms, let alone solutions. She has white knuckles through hot flashes, night sweats and unsupported urinary symptoms. “I am now dealing with a potential osteoporosis that could have been improved with early hormone replacement therapy.”
Commercial director Cindy Gentry had no idea what was happening to her when she started experiencing insomnia and anxiety in her early 50s. She didn’t know she was in menopause, but she felt something was wrong. Gentry was responsive, anxious, and unable to cope with the stress in her high-pressure leadership position. She hadn’t discussed menopause, let alone her mental health, with the older matriarchs of her Latin family, and her GPs didn’t recognize that her symptoms were attributable to menopause. So, she has suffered and feels, looking back, that “if I had hormone replacement therapy been given, all my problems would be controlled and my the quality of life for more than a decade would have radically improved “.
For context, medical bills for heart disease, breast cancer, hip fracture, and stroke drop dramatically when women between the ages of 50 and 59 take HRT.
Falling through the cracks in the health system
Once Midi’s founding team learned that menopause treatment falls through the cracks of multiple different specialties and returns to the laps of overworked and poorly trained general practitioners and gynecologists, they realized there were many possibilities. but treatments for menopause have rarely been discussed by doctors.
“We have seen that labs have been ordered too rarely, if at all, but they are critical to understanding treatment options and designing a personalized care plan. It was very obvious to us, as potential customers, that a new model of care was needed for middle-aged women, ”Strober adds.
The problem starts with a lack of education, he explains – in the United States, 80% of medical doctors reported feeling “barely comfortable” discussing or treating menopause and only 20% of gynecological residency programs provides training on menopause, mainly through courses, and most focus their practices on pregnancy and childbirth.
This year, a survey conducted by Biote found that “25% of women between the ages of 50 and 65 have never been told by their doctor (GP or gynecologist) that they are in perimenopause or menopause, even if 92% of the interviewees had experienced one or more symptoms of menopause in the last year ”.
The company operates as a traditional clinic. They see the patient (woman), manage her care and bill her insurer directly. At the visit, each patient receives a personalized care plan based on their health history (including any history of breast cancer and other female cancers, because we serve everything women), genetic risk factors, ethnicity and race. Unlike other middle-aged care companies, the company makes money from care, rather than markups on products and prescriptions.
Transforming healthcare for women 40+
Midi funding news coincides with the addition of several nationally prominent clinical hires: Chief Clinical Officer Mindy Goldman, MD, who practiced as an obstetrician / gynecologist at UCSF for three decades and was Director of the UCSF Gynecology Center for Cancer Survivors and Women at Risk; and National Medical Director Heather Hirsch, MD MS NCMP, former principal physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Menopause and Midlife Clinic, Harvard Medical School’s second largest teaching hospital. They join Midi’s Chief Medical Officer and co-founder Kathleen Jordan, MD, former senior vice president of Tia’s Women’s Health Clinics, in guiding the protocols, medical training and integration with Midi hospital systems.
“Healthcare for women over the age of 40 is one of the largest segments of healthcare that has not been transformed by digital health. The power of Midi’s B2B2C model is that by partnering with healthcare systems and employers of work, they can reach tens of thousands of women on a large scale in rural and urban geographic areas. We are thrilled to support their team as they expand access to health care for middle-aged women, “shares Victoria Treyger, General Partner by Felicis, one of the funds that co-led this funding round in Midi Health.
Strober understands that patients are complex and see multiple providers, and she knows that she and her team need to work well with partner organizations to provide the best care for middle-aged women. Recognize that female middle-aged care is particularly suited to telemedicine because what women need at this stage, more than anything else, is an in-depth conversation with a doctor who takes the time to listen to her experience and explore customized solutions is imperative for Strober.
“Our founding team started Midi to change the status quo and change healthcare for a massive demographic, our demographics,” he concludes.