Heidi Davis, Grit Alumni Female Co-Founder and CEO of IdentifyHer
Please tell us a little about yourself and your role as CEO and Co-Founder of IdentifyHer?
My academic background is in Nutrition and Molecular Medicine and I previously had a leading role in a startup, taking AI discovered health consumer products from early concept to market launch.
As a co-founder it has been important to work with my co-founder continuously to make sure we share the same vision and both are happy with our responsibilities within the company. As CEO in an early startup, I am doing everything and anything with my co-founder.
We both share responsibility for executing our vision, raising funds, building the team, developing the product, and scaling the company. However, there are some responsibilities that go more to me and some more to him based on our strengths and weaknesses and the roles we have decided to give ourselves.
Where did the idea for IdentifyHer come from?
My co-founder and I wanted to build a digital platform to predict the future disease risk for women. Women live longer than men, but the average age of disease onset is the same.
So ultimately, women live longer UNHEALTHY lives. The data collected to date for disease prediction is male biased, even with sex-specific analysis as the data collected was not designed with women’s physiology in mind.
Early in our journey to create this platform, we realised that although menopause is an inflection point for disease, there is no objective data on the menopausal transition. How could we build disease predictors without understanding up to a decade of a woman’s life where there are so many physiological changes that can increase the future risk of disease.
We then turned to building a solution that could capture this data and at the same time help solve the problem of diagnosing perimenopause and personalising symptom management.
What problem are you solving?
There are 440M women going through the menopausal transition worldwide, 330 M of these women will experience symptoms that are negatively affecting their lives at work and at home.
We know that about 60% of women that suffer from their symptoms will seek medical help, but only 30% of these women will get a diagnosis and treatment plan, leaving 70% of the women wanting help to suffer.
The simple reason why women do not get a diagnosis and treatment plan easily is that there are no clear diagnostic tests to establish perimenopause. Clinicians rely on self-reported symptoms on the frequency and severity of symptoms to establish perimenopause and prescribe treatment.
We are developing a first-of-its-kind wearable biosensor and digital platform that can passively quantify & profile the frequency and severity of menopausal symptoms, providing women and clinicians with the necessary information to diagnose & personalise symptom management.
Why are not all women represented in digital health technologies?
The underrepresentation of women and ethnicities in digital health technologies is due to several factors. Firstly, there is a lack of diversity in the development teams responsible for creating these technologies, resulting in a lack of understanding of the unique needs of different populations.
Secondly, systemic biases and historical inequalities in healthcare have led to certain groups, including women and ethnicities, being marginalized and excluded.
Finally, the exclusion of diverse populations from clinical trials means that there is often insufficient data on how these technologies affect women and ethnicities, leading to a lack of tailored solutions. Addressing these issues requires a concerted effort to increase diversity in development teams, overcome systemic biases, and ensure greater representation in clinical trials.
We are delighted to have you join the summit as part of the Grit alumni, can you please share with us your experience and the value received from participating in the program?
The GRIT program was hugely beneficial to me as a growing leader in my field and to identifyHer as a company. Being in a community of women that all strive to better healthcare in their own way gave me a strong community to use as a sounding board. The focus on women supporting women was what I might have enjoyed the most! Women can be hard on women, but we need to change that. The community of women from my cohort are still in a whatsapp group together, and the group is used frequently to troubleshoot, celebrate and support each other!
Any final thoughts?
I want to promote founding companies for women’s health. It is so challenging, but the opportunity to make an impact in this area is so rewarding. Founding a women’s health company can address the unique healthcare needs of women, which have historically been underserved or ignored. A women’s health company can focus on developing and providing products and services specifically designed for women, promote gender equity in healthcare, and improve overall health outcomes for women.