Women in the tech start-up world are revolutionizing women’s healthcare—and at the forefront of the “FemTech” movement are Pandia Health and its co-founder, Dr. Sophia Yen.
While Yen has known she wanted to be in the medical field since the fourth grade, it wasn’t until she was a teenager that she decided she wanted to focus on women’s reproductive health. “It was an outrage,” Yen tells Ms., “that someone was going to tell me what was going to happen in my uterus.”
Now a Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford School of Medicine and a physician at Stanford’s Center for Adolescent Health, Yen’s latest venture offers women across California the opportunity to access birth control by mail discreetly delivered every month. Those with an existing birth control prescription are eligible for free delivery, and new prescriptions are available over the phone for $39 a year.
Bottom line: What Yen no more trips to the pharmacy. Recently, Yen took the time to chat with Ms. about Pandia and her foray into entrepreneurship, women in tech, and how to navigate the emerging TeleHealth landscape.
As a physician, you do a lot of work with adolescents and teens. How has that experience impacted your ideas about the necessity of reproductive care and access to contraception?
Founding Pandia, I realized that one of the top reasons that people don’t take their birth control is that they don’t have it at hand. So, we decided to deliver birth control to people’s homes…Running the business, we found that 50% of people who respond to “free birth control delivery” ads needed a prescription: either [theirs had] run out or expired, or they never had a written prescription, to begin with. We realized that I’m an MD and I can write prescriptions! [There’s] also a perfect storm of laws/regulations. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) said in 2012, and again in 2016, that OCP [oral contraceptive pills] should be over the counter and three states let pharmacists write birth control prescriptions… so we took the protocol from CA – which is approved by the ACOG of CA, the Medical Board of CA, the Pharmacy Board of CA and improved it and are using that as part of our business model.
In what ways do you think the start up business model can be used to help further advance women and feminist causes?
Startups are just another form of business, and we need more women entrepreneurs to open companies that help women! There are really not many startups in the FemTech area, or they are run by men, who are well intentioned [but don’t] understand the issue personally [like women].
Do you hope to expand Pandia nationwide?
Absolutely. We are currently only in CA, but will be in 7 more states, Massachusetts, Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Indiana, Ohio and Virginia, by the end of 2017 and our aim is to be in as many states as possible by the end of 2019.
As telemedicine becomes a more popular healthcare option, what are some things you would like women looking into this method of care to keep in mind?
People need to look at the [telemedicine] companies they choose. Look at the telemedicine providers, [and consider] who are their doctors? Where did they attend medical school and where did they do their residency? Pandia is about service and doing good and making sure no one runs out of birth control on our watch.
Watch Pandia Health’s video here to learn more about Emergency Contraception options. For more information, visit Pandia Health’s website.