Globally, health coverage is not meeting women’s health needs – especially when it comes to autoimmune diseases. While this could be attributed to being one of the many consequences of the global pandemic, there are many factors at play that contribute to this sad truth. Long-existing social disparities are exacerbated in times of crisis, and the differences between how men and women have fared during the past two years are evidence of this imbalance. How can we ensure equal access to healthcare for women? In particular, how can we ensure access to healthcare for women with chronic autoimmune diseases that can affect their fertility, such as Hashimoto? One such method could be to improve people’s access to digital solutions in order to enhance their medical treatment.
It is estimated that Hashimoto’s disease affects approximately 500 million people worldwide, and with autoimmune diseases on the rise, this number is only set to increase. A relatively new discovery to the medical world, Hashimoto’s disease has only been known for around 100 years, which is one reason it is difficult to diagnose.
A diagnosis can take as long as eight years as there are thought to be up to 45 different symptoms. Most notably, women are disproportionately affected by this disease as they make up almost 90% of the affected group. Data collected from organisations such as the American Thyroid Association indicates that 12% of the world’s female population (1 in 8 women) will develop a thyroid disorder in their lifetime – that is over 20 million females in the USA alone. In the US, levothyroxine (a medicine used to treat an underactive thyroid gland that often causes Hashimoto’s disease) is the second most prescribed medication, with over 102 million prescriptions written in 2019 alone.
Hashiona has created the world’s first app-based technology aimed at helping patients to manage their diagnosed Hashimoto’s disease, and to increase awareness of autoimmune thyroid disorders. Hashiona’s program is designed by clinicians and includes dedicated features such as:
- self-tracking the disease
- personalized dietetic plans and supplementation
- medical experts’ help and psychological support, enhanced by modern technology and a patient-centric approach
Adopting a patient-centric approach is a fantastic way that healthcare systems can establish a robust partnership amongst practitioners, patients, and their families in order to foster patients’ needs, wants, and preferences. This also includes providing education and support tools to better equip patients to make their own informed decisions when it comes to their treatment so that they can participate in their own care. Well-supported patients lead to better, real-world medical evidence. Hashiona emphasizes the development of digital solutions that improve the sharing of information among patients, practitioners, and researchers in a way that transforms the overall clinical experience for the growing number of people affected by autoimmune diseases.
An increasing number of Americans have a blood abnormality that indicates autoimmunity, according to a study published April 7, 2020, in Arthritis and Rheumatology. This means that their immune system has created antibodies that could work against the body’s own cells. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the link between viruses and autoimmunity into the spotlight. Over the past year, research suggesting that people with COVID-19 carry many autoantibodies in their blood has been widely reported – although the mechanism at play is as yet unclear.
About 25% of patients with one autoimmune disease have a tendency to develop additional autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimoto. In addition, this disease requires a holistic treatment, however, statistics show that there are only 1000 active endocrinologists in the US who know how to handle the disease.
Eva Galant, founder and CEO of Hashiona, has experienced all the aforementioned problems when it comes to Hashimoto’s disease: “I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease and hyperthyroidism six years ago. The road to diagnosis took me an incredible eight years.” This journey triggered Eva to found the startup, Hashiona. Their app has been in the market for about a year now and has already attracted over ten thousand users; most of whom are mainly women suffering from Hashimoto’s disease and other thyroid-related autoimmune conditions.
The Hashiona app continues to receive growing recognition from users on the FemTech market. Its potential has been noticed by investors, with the startup having been granted almost $550,000 (US) as pre-seed funding. Among the investors who see the need for developing this digital therapeutics product is Draper University, founded by the famous Tim Draper. The startup has so far taken part in acceleration programs such as the MIT Enterprise Forum CEE, the Stanford Rebuild, Draper University | UNDPR or H+Innovation, and attracted inspiring mentors.
The primary goal of the Hashiona App is to help change people’s daily habits and put the disease’s symptoms into remission. To help achieve that, there is, among other features, a 20-week “Step-by-Step to Remission” program built-in.
Dr. Miriam Mikicki, Chief Medical Officer at Hashiona, states that “For some time now, a growing body of scientific research has been published showing the impact of lifestyle factors – e.g. diet, sleep, stress, or environmental factors – on autoimmunity and thyroid health. I believe that this knowledge should be provided to patients in a convenient format. This is exactly what our Hashiona App does. It allows the user to easily access the latest clinical research related to thyroid health and receive personal recommendations that can help many on the path to good health. It seems like the Hashiona App has all the ingredients needed to revolutionise our approach to treating Hashimoto’s disease and autoimmune thyroid disorders.”