Authority Magazine
Published in

Authority Magazine

Female Disruptors: How Amy Fan of Twentyeight Health is shaking up the reproductive healthcare industry

We are revolutionizing the way women get reproductive and sexual healthcare. We’ve started with birth control, and we want to support women through different life stages from fertility, pre & postnatal to menopause. Our goal is to make repro and sexual healthcare simple and affordable, so that all women can get the care they need.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Fan, Co-Founder, President, & CPO of Twentyeight Health.

Amy Fan is inspired by her experience leading a DTC skincare & makeup startup and wants to bring a human-centric approach to healthcare, putting the needs of the patient first. She is passionate about women’s equity, in healthcare, the workplace, and beyond.

Previously, Amy was the general manager of Onomie Beauty, a direct to consumer beauty startup that combines clinically-proven skincare efficacy with immediate makeup impact. She translated meaningful consumer insights into new product development and led successful launches by combining creative social engagement, brand partnerships and digital marketing campaigns. Prior to Onomie, Amy was a consultant at Bain & Company. Amy holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Queen’s University and a MBA & MPH from UC Berkeley.

Thank you for joining us Amy! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

In 2014, I joined a venture studio to lead a startup building telemedicine for dietitians. There were some very promising things, but we did not solve a critical piece of the puzzle, affordability. I was inspired by the potential to provide convenient evidence-based, personalized nutrition advice and to improve affordability by helping dietitians lower overhead costs that they could pass down to patients. However, what I missed was how critical of a role reimbursement plays in making healthcare accessible.

After we folded the dietitian platform, I had an opportunity to become the GM of the beauty brand at the studio, Onomie. I was inspired by the user-centric approach in beauty. From the product formulation, digital interface to the unboxing experience, everything was crafted to delight the customer by deeply understanding our users’ needs.

Unfortunately, this is often not the case in healthcare. Payers, providers, pharmaceutical companies, PBMs — there are so many Ps in healthcare, yet patients are often the last stakeholder considered. I left beauty to take this learning to healthcare and to leverage the user-centric approach to build empowering and dignified patience experiences in healthcare.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Our mission at Twentyeight Health is to expand access to reproductive and sexual health for all women, particularly in underserved communities. Unfortunately, underserved communities have been ignored by the traditional healthcare system and forgotten by the wave of DNVBs that have priced at a premium.

Starting with birth control, we’ve built an end-to-end platform to provide telemedicine, prescription delivery and ongoing care. We are the ONLY player that accepts Medicaid in NY, NJ, PA, MD, and soon, FL, which is a critical component of ensuring that we are accessible for everyone. Additionally, we’ve partnered with Bedsider to provide free birth control to uninsured women in need.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

One of my greatest inspirations is my grandmother. She grew up in poverty selling incense, lived through war-torn China, and carried her daughters on her back to start a new life in Taiwan. Yet, she never lost her sense of wonder and openness to learn at any age. I remember as a kid, practicing complicated Chinese characters alongside my grandma, who was also learning to write for the first time. There are times where I get imposter syndrome; I worry that by not demonstrating that I am an expert, I am letting everyone down around me. Then, I remember my grandma’s spirit, openly embracing learning something new and finding the fun in mastering something for the first time.

Can you share the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“You are better than nothing.” Ok, this sounds a bit depressing, but it was actually very helpful at the beginning of my career. After undergrad, I joined Bain & Company as a management consultant. I felt so unsure of my skills and ability to contribute that I was reticent to speak up in any meetings. Even though I heard encouraging words from my team members, I did not find a lot of comfort in hearing “don’t worry”. However, one of the senior team members, who has now become a long-time mentor of mine, told me, “if you weren’t here, no one else has the time to do it. You are the only person that has looked at this analysis, so you should not be comparing yourself to someone else with more years of expertise in this field, but that you are 100 times better than no one being here at all”. This helped me to switch my perspective and has carried over to the startup world where we are often doing something for the first time. Rather than worrying about doing something perfectly, I remember that I am doing something. And that something, it’s a start!

“When you say no to something, it always means you are saying yes to something internally.” I often have a hard time saying no, and a mentor told me this when I was struggling to balance work and personal life. He did not mean that when you say no to something, you can say yes to something else because you have the time. Rather, he explained that when you say no to something, you are saying yes to a value that you hold. At the time, I was experiencing fatigue from work travels, and in particular, I was feeling a strain on personal relationships. This helped me feel more comfortable saying no to some work travels because I was not saying no to being a team player, but I was saying yes to the importance I place on relationships with my loved ones.

How are you going to shake things up next?

We are revolutionizing the way women get reproductive and sexual healthcare. We’ve started with birth control, and we want to support women through different life stages from fertility, pre & postnatal to menopause. Our goal is to make repro and sexual healthcare simple and affordable, so that all women can get the care they need.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande is a powerful book that helped me to re-examine what we think healthcare should look like. He covers topics including palliative care, hospice and care for the elderly and questions why we’ve developed hospital-focused settings that do not always account for the patients’ desires. It reviews healthcare from a human lens, letting the reader ask ourselves, is this what I would want for my family or for myself? I read this during a time when my aunt was in palliative care after a long battle with colon cancer. The nurses and doctors around her were so incredibly kind, patient, and caring. Leading up to New Years, they organized tangyuan making, a Chinese dessert made from sticky rice, which symbolized families coming together. They had family members of patients participate, and brought the dessert to every room with a bit of pomp and festivity. This reminded me that healthcare is not just about getting the right treatment to the right people, but how that care is delivered is also impactful.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Women’s health has historically been severely underfunded, representing only 4% of overall R&D for healthcare products and services. We represent over 50% of the population, yet femtech continues to be an underinvested and sometimes even taboo topic. I want to change this, and perhaps it starts with the conversation around reproductive & sexual health, a stigmatized part of women’s health.

Today, only 17 states require sex ed to be medically accurate. How about we change this? How about we start having evidence-based, culturally competent and approachable sexual education conversations — with young people, with our peers, with our elders. I recently spoke with a doctor at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who is researching access to menstrual products for adolescents. One of the implications of school closures is that many teenage girls are no longer able to get tampons or pads, which is an issue that has not received a lot of attention. I wonder if we had more open conversations about sexual health, if we would have been more comfortable speaking about this issue — and finding a solution — earlier.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

A recent quote I heard that caused me to ruminate upon it for many days is by Esther Perel: “behind every criticism is a request”. What a powerful reframe to realize that behind the critical comments we hear is a person trying to reach out, but the core message has been drowned by the deafening tone of its delivery. As humans, we seek connection and understanding. Yet, in the space between the intentions behind the message and how the message is received, so much misunderstanding can occur. To me, it’s a reminder to lower my bristles when I hear a criticism, and seek to understand the request hiding inside.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Follow @Twentyeight and join our journey of expanding sexual and reproductive care across the US!

--

--

--

In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Recommended from Medium

What Buying a Home Taught Me About Online Reviews

Intern Stories: Matt L. (Business)

How to sell upper-management on your subscription revenue model

Getting back up is what matters

Founders Interviews: Jerónimo, Nicolás & Mencey of Bildia

How primary school science helped me decide to join nPlan

Female Disruptors: How Emmy Award Winner Tracey Shappro Is Shaking Up How Live Events Are Produced

Edtech startup Cuemaths $4-M Series A funding is announced

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Authority Magazine

Authority Magazine

Good stories should feel beautiful to the mind, heart, and eyes

More from Medium

Ageism & Retirement

Time-Restricted Eating Doesn’t Work?

Perfect Looks Just Like You — Weekend Safety Update

CAN AN ADULT BE MALNOURISHED?