Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a common disorder that can cause irregular periods, infertility or gestational diabetes in women. And the condition is far from rare: PCOS impacts one in 10 women, meaning there’s a big market of people out there that want better support and risk-screening to navigate the symptoms.
That’s where Veera Health comes in. The startup is an online clinic aimed at helping women in India navigate PCOS through risk-screening, mental health support and answers about effects such as acne and weight gain. If the startup does its job right, it can help bring earlier diagnosis to women around the world.
“The big issue around polycystic ovary syndrome is that there [are] a lot of different symptoms, and very often women take a long time to actually get diagnosed in the right manner,” CEO and co-founder Shashwata Narain said. “We want to provide a higher level and quality of guidance so she can have open eyes experience as she goes through her treatment process.”
Veera Health’s subscription-based program takes the medical history of a patient to better understand symptoms and any existing reports. About 60% to 70% of the patients that Veera Health has worked with so far are pre-diagnosed and are looking for a solution, so the startup then starts to pick apart potential risk factors and suggests a holistic treatment plan. The startup has a team of specialists, from clinical nutritionists to dermatologists and gynecologists, that it works with on a contractual basis to approve any plan given to a patient. The startup has employed a number of care managers, which is basically an employee in charge of handling weekly and daily communication with the patient about these plans.
The company uses published research on assessment and management of PCOS as a framework for its suggestions.
Veera Health officially launched three months ago and already has made $10,000 in revenue, growing at 300% month over month in paid customers.
Veera Health isn't covered by insurance, so patients pay out of pocket for the services. In India, Narain says, outpatient care is “almost entirely an out-of-pocket market” and insurance is largely focused on hospitalization expenses. By using Veera Health, the co-founder estimates that by aggregating all these services into one spot, Veera Health can stop customers from spending “thousands and thousands of rupees” and playing specialist hopscotch.
In fact, one study shows that PCOS clinics have had a high retention in patients compared to other single-care providers.
The co-founder says the biggest challenge for Veera Health is educating women about how to prioritize their own health and get past the stigma of PCOS.
“It’s a challenge because you want to get as much information out there and make sure women are paying attention to their health, yet at the same time there’s a lot of stigma on [PCOS] and around women’s health to begin with.”
We know of at least one investor that thinks the conversation is ready to be had, anyway. Veera Health recently graduated from Y Combinator’s Winter 2021 cohort as one of the 39 companies based in India, the highest concentration from the accelerator yet.
Narain says that Veera Health is uniquely positioned to help women during the pandemic. Her sister and co-founder, Shobhita, was diagnosed with PCOS so experienced firsthand the confusing path to diagnosis.
“Because of the pandemic, there's a lot more openness to online solutions,” she said. “People are at home, not able to exercise and are much more stressed out. This had a ramp up in the level of awareness on [PCOS] and the search for solutions.”