Nurx, Amazon Alexa introduce voice activated birth control reminders and sex education
Women’s health startup Nurx tapped Amazon Alexa to provide information on sexual and reproductive health, as well as birth control pills reminders.
The startup has partnered with Amazon to launch the Nurx Birth Control and Sexual Health Knowledge Skill for Alexa to aid medication compliance and prevent unplanned pregnancies, company executives said.
“Our medical team hears almost daily from patients who forgot to take a pill or more and are concerned about pregnancy and in some cases we have to prescribe emergency contraception for them,” said Jennifer Peña, MD, chief medical officer at Nurx. in a statement. “We want to give people who take the pill new ways to remember and keep an eye on their health.”
Along with pill reminders, the Nurx skill answers patient’s most common questions about birth control and sexual health. The free skill does not require a Nurx account and can be activated by saying “Alexa, start Nurx” on any Alexa-enabled device or by visiting the Skills Store in the Alexa app. Once activated, users can give commands such as “Alexa, ask Nurx to remind me to take my contraception at 9 a.m.” or “Alexa, ask Nurx how the birth control pill works”.
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More than 19 million women of childbearing potential living in the United States are in need of publicly funded contraception and live in the deserts of contraception, according to Power to Decide, a nonprofit that aims to reduce unplanned pregnancies. Living in a contraceptive desert means that women in their county do not have adequate access to a health center that offers the full range of contraceptive methods.
Nurx aims to make birth control more accessible and affordable by delivering it direct to consumers. The San Francisco-based telemedicine company also focuses on what they call “sensitive health services,” such as STI testing, HIV prevention with PrEP, HPV at-home screening, and now headache and migraine treatment.
Nurx recently launched a line of dermatology for acne, rosacea and anti-aging treatments. The San Francisco-based company has raised $ 113 million to date and is available in 33 states and Washington, DC
The company describes itself as the largest provider of telemedicine with a focus on women and has carried out over 1 million virtual consultations since its launch in 2015. Nurx now looks after 500,000 patients a month, according to the company.
In July, the company began providing emergency contraceptives with urgent telemedicine appointments for overnight shipping. Called Nurx Now, this service provides a more accessible and convenient option for patients who have said it was a burden, inconvenience, or embarrassment to go to the pharmacy to pick up emergency contraception. In some cases, patients’ local pharmacies do not dispense the morning-after pill.
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“By meeting the demand for urgent contraception through access to medical providers 7 days a week and overnight shipping, Nurx is breaking down barriers to sensitive health needs and providing comprehensive care,” wrote Nurx CEO Varsha Rao in a blog post in which he the Nurx Now announced service. “Our patients who entrust Nurx with their ongoing medical needs are also looking for urgent solutions and Nurx Now will offer them, first in emergency contraception, followed by other urgent care options.”
As Amazon brings a growing number of consumer-centric health services to market, its Alexa Skill feature enables health care providers like Nurx to reach their communities in new ways with voice-activated reminders and patient education, company executives said.
“Nurx’s mission has always been to use technology to put patients in control of their health,” Rao said in a statement. “Amazon Alexa capabilities provide us with an exciting new way to reach patients where they are and communicate important reminders and information about their health and healthcare.”
The company is one of the few direct-to-consumer digital health companies that accepts insurance, company executives said. The company claims Nurx is available to 90% of the US population.