This All-In-One Women’s Health Clinic Is Changing the Doctor’s Office Game
Making doctors’ appointments, usually months in advance, and lining them up with work, family, and other commitments is one of our least favorite pastimes. But what if virtually all your medical care could be accessed right in the same office (that’s right — annual flu shots, well visits, gynecological exams, IUD insertion, and even acupuncture)? That’d be super convenient, of course, but it would also have a positive impact on your body. Most of the systems in women’s bodies run on a cycle of hormones that fluctuate based on interior and exterior factors, and doctors at the Tia Clinic, now open in New York City, have a full understanding of the interconnection of all the cycles in each patient’s body. The Tia founders and other medical professionals in the field weigh in on why Tia’s transition from a trusted, dependable app to a health clinic encompassing women’s full-body health needs, from birth control to strep tests, is an essential one.
The Tia app, founded just three years ago in 2016, began by establishing a foundation of trust as a confidential source between health professionals and patients for Q&A on everything from irregular periods to sexual health to and birth control. Of course, the original plan was for the app to be your go-to when your OB/GYN was off-duty, but the founders (Cornell BFFs Carolyn Witte and Felicity Yost) found that people were actually bringing their phones into their doc’s office. That’s what sparked the idea to develop Tia into a clinic, according to CEO and co-founder Witte. “When we saw our app users bringing Tia with them to the doctor’s office — specifically, the gynecologist’s office — for guidance and support, we knew that there was a bigger opportunity to extend our loved and trusted digital relationship with women into real-world care delivery,” Witte says.
And the app will still be an integral part of the clinic: Patients can use it for appointment booking, and it will securely keep track of your medical history so that your healthcare providers at Tia are aware, co-founder and COO Yost explains. It even tracks your menstrual cycle so you don’t have to rack your brain to come up with the first day of your last period. “Afterward, Tia ‘picks’ you back up and helps you implement your care plan at home,” Yost says. This adds to it being a comprehensive healthcare experience — where you don’t have to Google your symptoms to figure out what to do next. Witte and Yost made sure that members have an opportunity to chat with their actual Care Team, the people who are aware of each patient’s health history, any time they have any questions or concerns in between appointments.
A cyclic approach is one that many healthcare providers don’t take. Instead, doctors are typically separated by specialties according to organs or organ systems. “We practice an integrative ‘whole women’s health’ model that treats the whole woman, not a symptom or isolated body part,” says Stephanie McClellan, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Tia. Because women’s bodies operate on cycles, all factors are taken into consideration in the Tia Clinic, whether you’re going in for a routine Pap smear, IUD insertion, a flu shot, a stress analysis, or acupuncture. “Our Cycle-Connected Care model is rooted in the notion that to be female is to be cyclic, and you can’t treat a female patient for nearly anything, whether it’s anxiety, depression, autoimmune diseases, or endocrine disorders, without understanding the hormonal fluctuations of her cycle, and how the various components of her health, lifestyle, family history, and more connect,” says Dr. McClellan. It’s important to the Tia team to also analyze your lifestyle and sleep patterns too, along with your health history and family health history, to most accurately care for the whole woman.
Doctors outside the clinic echo that this “cyclic” approach has real merit in the betterment of women’s health. “Women’s bodies are complex — we are incredibly beautiful with our lunar-synchronized hormonal rhythms, our daily circadian rhythms, and even our seasonal rhythms,” says Felice Gersh, MD, an OB/GYN and the founder and director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, in Irvine, California. “All our organ systems work with a beautiful harmony, when health is optimal,” she adds. From her experience running an integrative medicine practice, she mentions that the focus on the intersection of diet, sleep, exercise, stress management, and hormonal balance is key not only to the patient’s health, but also to a successful medical clinic. And the fact that multiple specialists within one clinic can confer about one patient’s treatment just adds to that intersectional approach.
Kecia Gaither, MD, an OB/GYN and the Director of Perinatal Services at New York City Health and Hospitals/Lincoln, adds that an integrative clinic helps medical professionals analyze all possible angles and causes of a medical condition, like the patient’s environment. “Understanding the connection between environmental stressors, the production of cortisol, the stress hormone, and how it plays a role in many bodily functions, and the development of medical issues like cardiovascular disease, infertility, and menstrual irregularities is an important thing,” Dr. Gaither says. This attention to every possible cause of a health problem is what Dr. Gaither believes will make any clinic a success.
With this “whole woman” method, you’re getting more complete care — but it also could make dealing with insurance companies less of a headache, since virtually all your care is taking place in one office. If your insurance plan is one of those accepted by the clinic (check out the list of insurance providers accepted by Tia and the list of services typically covered), you should be good to go without paying out of pocket — for things like an annual gynecological exam, flu shot, birth control, and STI screening, Dr. McClellan says. The Tia team is hoping to expand their clinics beyond New York City, to spread their mission of making women’s healthcare less stressful, and way more seamless (and colorful — have you seen the exam rooms?) for the patient.
(Photos via Kezi Ban at Blonde Artists; courtesy of Rockwell Group).