Technology has been assisting and improving human reproduction for decades. The first child successfully conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF) was born less than fifty years ago, the process hailed as a 20th century medical breakthrough. Now, global digitization and advancements in artificial intelligence are bringing family planning, and women’s health in general, into the 21st century.
Consumer apps like Clue, Flo, and Mira offer AI-guided fertility and menstrual guidance, and Swiss startup Ava produces a fertility-tracking wearable, and more “femtech” companies continue emerging. In fact, AI could lead the next generation of fertility treatment, and ideally lead to safer, cheaper, and more accessible women’s sexual health outcomes. To that end, some of the largest and oldest health technology companies are taking a step in the right direction.
Netherlands-based global health technology corporation Royal Philips is teaming with multinational, U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., entering a multi-year partnership to develop new, personalized fertility software. The platform in development will combine AI-enabled ultrasound diagnostics with cutting-edge data analysis to guide both patients and professionals in determining fertility and conception plans. With this collaboration, both Royal Philips and Merck are committed to leading the digital transformation of women’s health and fertility treatments, sharing their immense expertise and resources to produce optimal patient outcomes.
While current technology is limited in its ability to leverage AI in family planning, research is underway to use it to improve IVF, which accounts for roughly 1.5% of successful births in the U.S. alone. North of the border, Canadian startup Future Fertility has launched its own Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) innovation, Violet, a cloud-based software that assesses egg fertilization probability and embryo viability.
The product represents first-in-its-class, AI-powered image technology that has been developed alongside IVF clinics worldwide, including leading U.K. provider CARE Fertility. Currently, a new IVF cycle costs $12,000 and up, and pregnancy viability decreases drastically for women over 35 years old. Medical professionals and software developers alike understand the importance of making these cycles as successful as possible, and AI-enhanced ART and IVF could be the next breakthrough in family planning.