On Thursday, Aegis Ventures launched a new startup with Northwell Holdings, the venture capital arm of Northwell Health. The New York City-based company, named Upliv, focuses on virtual menopause care.
In April, Aegis said it would invest at least $100 million in seed-stage funds toward the launch and development of joint ventures with Northwell Health. The partners project that Upliv’s seed funding through the end of 2023 will be $8.4 million.
Aegis and Northwell Holdings created Upliv to better serve the estimated 1 million U.S. women who experience menopause each year, said Allison Schoeneck, the startup’s CEO, in a recent interview.
When women go through menopause, they experience complex changes to multiple systems in the body. Though women experience moderate to debilitating symptoms across a range of areas — such as hot flashes, night sweats, sexual dysfunction, depression, insomnia and muscle aches — these symptoms aren’t talked about much within the medical community, according to Schoeneck. She added that many women feel left to navigate this phase of life alone.
“Fortunately, a lot of women do go to their primary care physician or their OB/GYN to seek treatment, but most clinicians actually don’t have any specific menopause training or expertise,” Schoeneck said. “In fact, only about 20% of OB/GYN programs provide any type of menopause training. And as much as 75% of women receive no treatment at all. This means women are needlessly suffering, and they’re not supported in the ways that they ideally need. We created Upliv to change that paradigm.”
The startup will partner with employers to provide virtual care services to their employees with perimenopause and menopause symptoms. On Upliv’s platform, women can access educational resources, prescriptions, patient-to-patient discussion boards, and video consultations with clinicians and health coaches who are trained in menopause care. The care that the startup provides is based on guidelines from the North American Menopause Society.
Initially, Upliv’s services will be available to Northwell employees. The health system, which is the largest in New York state, surveyed 900 of its employees and found that the majority of respondents experience moderate to severe menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, weight gain, sleep issues, and fatigue.
To address this, Northwell is beginning a pilot program with a select number of nurses before it rolls out Upliv’s services system-wide in the first quarter of next year.
Upliv plans to roll out its services to more employers in mid-2023, according to Schoeneck. The startup’s program will be offered as a benefit at zero cost to employees, she said.
Dr. Stacey Rosen, senior vice president of Northwell’s Katz Institute for Women’s Health, told MedCity News she hopes that more employers add Upliv’s program as a benefit over the coming years.
“Providing this benefit really reflects a corporation’s respect for women,” Dr. Rosen said. “And the platform is really quite multi-pronged, with regard to time with clinical providers and the tremendous amount of education and support in areas that traditional healthcare delivery doesn’t focus on — like sleep, behavioral health issues and nutrition.”
As for competition, Upliv isn’t the only menopause-focused startup out there. Others include Vira Health and Evernow. Upliv differentiates itself with its focus on going after the employer market and making its services available to women at no cost, Schoeneck argued. She also pointed out that Upliv’s partnership with Northwell makes it unique.
“We’re able to connect patients, when necessary, to the right provider through our integration with Northwell,” Schoeneck said. “So rather than us just working in a silo, we’re really able to connect women to the many types of resources and care that she may need.”
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