In their quest to conceive a child, husband and wife team Jake and Deborah Anderson-Bialis spent years struggling to find a fertility specialist who met their needs, and ended up cycling through multiple doctors before finding the right one, a process that they describe as “total, and utter, hell.” In an effort to help others facing the same challenges, the San Francisco-based couple has created a new service that uses crowdsourcing to help patients find fertility clinics and doctors. Launching today, FertilityIQ allows users to read detailed reviews of fertility doctors and clinics all over the country, in hopes of making the stressful and expensive process of treating infertility just a little bit easier.
The CDC reports that just over 12 percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 have had trouble getting pregnant of carrying a baby to term, and almost 12 percent of women in that age bracket have received fertility services of some kind, ranging from simple advice to artificial insemination. But although fertility is the basis of a huge industry, Jake and Deborah Anderson-Bialis (pictured below) complain that there aren’t reliable ways for patients to get meaningful information about specialists and clinics, or to find out if a particular doctor’s skills are suited to their specific fertility challenges. That lack of information can lead to incredible stress, not to mention wasted time and money. The average cost of fertility treatment for couples is $5338, but a service like IVF goes for more than $19,000.
In an August article for Business Insider, Jake opened up about his and his wife’s years-long struggle to find the right fertility specialist, recounting how their first doctor made a crucial mistake that cost them $20 thousand and “3 months of agony.” A visit to a specialist at a second clinic landed Deborah in the emergency room. “After that experience, we were really motivated to make the system better and more transparent, so that future patients wouldn’t have the issues that we had,” Deborah told Refinery 29.
Enter FertilityIQ. The website features assessments from patients about 70 percent of U.S. fertility doctors, hailing from 90 percent of U.S. fertility clinics, according to a press release. In order to provide reliable, non-biased information, FertilityIQ verifies reviews from patients, and refuses to accept advertising or funds from clinics, doctors, or pharmaceutical companies. Currently aimed at people trying to conceive and women interested in freezing their eggs, FertilityIQ allows patients to rate doctors according to characteristics like response time, how often they saw the doctor during appointments, and whether they were treated like “a number” or “a human.” They can also rate clinics for features like the quality of the nursing staff, the ease of scheduling, and the competency of the billing department.
One significant aspect of FertilityIQ is that reviewers record information about themselves, the services they received, and their own diagnosis, so that patients with a specific fertility problem can find doctors who are experienced in treating that problem. This type of reviewing isn’t a perfect system — after all, one patient’s personal experience might not be reflective of a doctor’s success rate as a whole — but this model at least offers people struggling with fertility a glimpse into how clinics and doctors operate before they commit themselves — and their money — to services that might not be right for them.
Right now, FertilityIQ is available for free. The company founders plan to eventually charge a fee for the service, but they assured Fast Company that it will be a “drop in the bucket” compared to the total costs of fertility treatments. You check out the service for yourself at the FertilityIQ website.
Images courtesy of FertilityIQ.