Nurx, a direct-to-consumer women’s health company best known for its online birth control prescriptions, launched a Skill for Amazon Alexa focused on sexual and reproductive health as well as pill reminders.
The Nurx Birth Control and Sexual Health Knowledge Skill reminds patients to take their birth control pills daily at the time of their choice, which is critical to preventing unplanned pregnancy.
The Skill will also answer common sexual health questions, like when emergency contraception needs to be administered or explaining the different types of birth control and how they work.
“We’re always looking at new and innovative channels to reach patients and potential patients,” Nurx CEO Varsha Rao told MobiHealthNews.
“So this felt like it was a natural way for us to communicate with more people. And then the other aspect is how you take your medication, or medication adherence, is a really important part of driving positive outcomes. Enabling people to stay consistent on their medication, in contraception in particular, is incredibly important.”
WHY IT MATTERS
Sex education requirements vary in U.S. schools, according to the Guttmacher Institute. While 39 states and Washington, D.C., mandate sex and/or HIV education, only 20 states and D.C. require giving information on contraception. Only 18 states require program content to be medically accurate.
A 2016 report by the Urban Institute found misinformation about birth control persisted for some methods; only 31% of women of reproductive age had heard a lot about intrauterine devices and implants, and more than one in five were unsure about their safety. These methods of birth control are some of the most effective forms of contraception.
“The topic is still stigmatized in many areas, for many people and in different cultures. And so while the information might be out there, there’s a lot of people who aren’t necessarily talking about it, or comfortable talking about it,” Rao said. She said the information on Nurx’s Skill has been vetted by the company’s provider group.
“The second thing is, information does evolve. And so I think having trusted providers convey information is really important.”
THE LARGER TREND
Nurx got its start offering birth control and PrEP prescriptions, but has since expanded into STI testing, dermatology and migraine treatment. In July, the company announced it would provide emergency contraception with urgent care telehealth appointments for overnight shipping.
It completed a Series C funding round last year, bringing its total raise to $113 million.
Health misinformation has become a major concern during the COVID-19 pandemic as misinformation about the virus and the vaccine spread online and on social media. Last week, GoodRx, best known for its medication price transparency service, launched a health information tool designed to provide answers to common health questions.
The pandemic also intensified a contraception access issue, Rao said. Power to Decide, a nonprofit that aims to reduce unplanned pregnancies, estimates 19 million women lack reasonable access in their county to a health center that offers a full range of birth control methods.
“I think what is really a challenge for people is everything from affordability to access to clinics. There’s 19 million women who live in contraception deserts, and so it’s just challenging for people to get to a clinic, to get medication or to get onto contraception,” Rao said. “And this has been exacerbated by COVID when many people can’t get to see a PCP, and then there’s the stigma layer on top of that.”