The pursuit of straight-forward, personalized women’s healthcare can be a headache. Even a simple consultation can call for a mountain of paperwork and a less than productive conversation — one which excludes personal experience, health history, and family background. If you’re tired of cookie cutter healthcare strategies, Tia is the answer to your prayers. This innovative company merges healthcare with the latest innovations in tech, providing women with the online tools — and soon, IRL solutions — to take charge of their bodies and their health.
We sat down with Carolyn Witte, the founder of Tia, to ask her how the concept for this model came about and what’s in store for the future.
How would you describe Tia to a prospective user?
Tia, at its core, is a women’s healthcare company that builds tools, products, and services designed to help women be their own patient advocate. We’re all about bringing more transparency to healthcare, enabling women to know what is normal and not normal for their own bodies, and ultimately get better care. An example of this is Tia’s women’s health advisor app. Our tracking tools help you learn the in’s and out’s of your body and how different things are connected.
How did the idea for the Tia app come about?
I started Tia about two years ago after going through my own really frustrating health struggles. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which is actually a pretty common endocrine disorder that one in ten women have, but it took me several years to be diagnosed. That process exposed me to everything that is really fundamentally broken about women’s healthcare. One of those issues that we talk a lot about is these one-size-fits-all solutions that women are forced to navigate rather than getting any sort of personalized care. That’s something I think both men and women would agree is wrong with healthcare today, but it’s especially problematic in women’s health. The female body is very complex and women have unique and distinct needs from male patients. You can see that in the research. Women are disproportionately affected by digestive disorders like IBS and Crohn’s disease as well as autoimmune disorders like thyroid or endocrine disorders. All this data suggests female patients need to be looked at through a different lens and with specific tools — and that’s why we set out to create this female-centric experience with Tia Care.
Additionally, the “guesswork” process women face in choosing birth control demonstrates the pitfalls in this one-size-fits-all healthcare. My team jokes, “Why is choosing birth control more random than choosing a TV show to watch?”
Ultimately, it’s about helping women make informed decisions for themselves that they feel confident in because they know they have the right information that reflects their unique body and hormonal makeup, their family history, their personal preferences, you name it.
Why did you decide to expand Tia from the app to Tia Clinics? What does that process look like?
We launched the Tia app about a year ago and we found that women loved this personal relationship with Tia, but we’ve found people wanted Tia with their doctor, and not having continuity in the care environment was really frustrating. So now we’re building a Tia for Doctors platform that will allow doctors in the Tia Clinic to connect with the Tia app. When you come in for your appointment, your doctor will have the complete picture of you, your health history and your cycle data, so they’re able to treat you holistically, based off of long term health data, rather than just a snapshot moment in time. These tools aren’t tech for the sake of tech, but in service of that rare face time you do get with a doctor that should be meaningful and heavily personalized so you can make an informed decision for yourself.
Where will these clinics be located? Are they opening anytime soon?
We’ll be announcing our first location very soon with the goal of opening it early next year. We’re specifically building a model designed around the needs of urban working women. I’ve moved back and forth between San Francisco and New York three times since graduating college and I’ve never had a consistent care provider. We want to be that trusted space, that trusted provider. That’s our goal, to have Tia Clinics be the go-to resource for women in cities around the country.
Right now Tia really specializes in the cis-gendered female body. Are there any plans to expand Tia’s services to transgendered anatomies?
Building an inclusive brand, product, and ultimately a care model that has its doors open to all identities has been a founding principle of Tia from day one. Our care ethos rests on the fact that the female body necessitates a different model of care than the male body — that there are anatomical differences that make female patients different from male patients. So for us, it’s really about being focused on providing the highest quality care for the anatomically female body — being aware of what we’re excellent at and not overpromising in terms of suggesting we have an expertise on something outside of our area. So today, regardless of where you are on the spectrum, if you have a female anatomy, if you have a uterus, Tia and the Tia Clinic are places for you. Over time we hope to become both an information platform and a care center that can serve the needs of people across that transition spectrum who may be in the midst of a transition or on hormone replacement therapy.
What’s next on tap for Tia, and how can people get involved?
Right now, our big focus is on soliciting feedback from people about what they want the Tia Clinic experience to be. While we have an interdisciplinary team that’s working hard to build a new model for women, we need as much input as we can get from people. Who are we to design the future of women’s healthcare in a vacuum?
Everyone’s experience is valuable in informing how we design our product and care experience to serve the needs of a diverse population — so we want to hear from the transgender community, the queer community, all sorts of different people about what they expect and want from healthcare.
Everything from how they want their pap and STI result tests to be delivered to the design of the gown in the Tia Clinic to what fuzzy socks they want to wear. I always encourage people to download the Tia app and tell us what they like and what we can improve on. That’s really the most exciting thing for me as a founder who’s really looking to co-create this new care model with women — what they love about healthcare, what they hate, and what we can do to make it better.
Clara Malley is an Editorial and Community Intern for The Fullest based in NYC. Find her at @claramalley on Instagram or say hi at firstname.lastname@example.org.