Justyna Strzeszynska, founder and CEO of menstrual health brand Joii, shares how her experience living with menstrual health issues inspired her to launch the Joii App, a new period and symptom tracker designed to support those living with endometriosis.
Joii started because of my own personal frustrations and battles with my menstrual health. For around a week every month, I used to describe my way of living as survival mode. I battled heavy periods, discomfort and anaemia. There were days when I was unable to get out of bed, go to work or carry on with my daily life.
It took me over three years to get my fibroids diagnosis. Throughout this experience, I heard of more and more women and people who menstruate who were in exactly the same boat. They were living with debilitating symptoms, being dismissed, told it was ‘the norm’ and waiting years for a diagnosis.
My research into my own condition also brought to light how under-researched and underfunded women’s health conditions are and also how little is understood about them, in particular endometriosis. I was shocked to discover that the National Institute of Health, the largest source of biomedical funding globally, allocates 1,500% more per woman for diabetes than for endometriosis.
I spent a lot of time mulling this over, getting frustrated, delving deeper into the issues and before long, the seed for Joii had been planted.
At the heart of the business is our ambition to affect change for the millions of people living with menstrual health conditions. To this end, Joii has three core strands to it; our app, our menstrual health research lab and our suite of new and innovative products. Our app is the first product we are launching and after four years of researching, developing, designing, prototyping, running focus groups, testing and running more focus groups, I’m so excited it’s ready to launch and we are heading into our first round of customer trials!
The app has been designed initially to support those living with endometriosis and features a first-of-its-kind scanner, developed to help users accurately measure menstrual fluid loss, as well as the most comprehensive list of endometriosis symptoms for tracking; more than any other app on the market.
The app is paired with our bespoke evaluation pad, to help users get a truly accurate reading.
We have worked with endometriosis advocacy groups, people living with the condition and medical experts within the field to ensure the app is a genuinely useful tool for sufferers and clinicians alike.
We’ve designed the platform to support those with endometriosis symptoms and the medical professionals that see them, providing a comprehensive overview of the symptoms experienced, as well as giving accurate data on any heavy blood loss, rather than patients struggling to give a subjective estimate. It will also enable patients to share symptoms with GPs that they might be uncomfortable discussing, as they can just hand over the app with a clear dashboard of information.
Creating benefits for patients and the NHS
Diagnosis for endometriosis in the UK takes an average of eight years and 58% of those living with the condition attend 10 or more GP appointments before receiving a diagnosis. We want to cut these visits to five by 2025, saving the NHS money, expediting the diagnosis timeframes and helping ease the suffering of those with the condition by getting them to the treatment stage sooner. We also believe the app will positively impact waitlists, by providing information to help refer people to the right consultants the first time and cutting down on follow-up appointments due to misdiagnosis.
Endometriosis impacts one in 10 women and around 1.5 million in the UK alone. It is a chronic condition characterised by debilitating pain, which is often (but not always) coupled with heavy bleeding and a whole host of other less-discussed symptoms. It’s why we focused our app on endometriosis to start with.
But we know that this is just one condition and there are millions of women living with other menstrual health disorders that impact their lives on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. For instance two in every three women and those who menstruate will develop at least one fibroid in their lives, 1:10 are affected by Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Moreover, adenomyosis is such a tricky condition to diagnose that estimates on the number of people living with it range from 3% to 70% and it often goes hand-in-hand with fibroids or endometriosis, making it even harder to detect.
Evolving the Joii App
We have big plans for our app to grow and support all menstrual health conditions, giving people access to relevant, comprehensive symptoms tracking and information to help them and their GP or gynaecologist secure a swifter diagnosis. Our goal is to help people take their menstrual health into their own hands, understand their body better and improve outcomes and diagnosis times for those living with menstrual health conditions.
We believe the Joii App can offer significant benefits to patients and doctors. Being part of the DigitalHealth.London Launchpad has been an incredible experience, giving us invaluable insight into how the NHS works, the structures that are in place and crucially, how we can build further evidence and create pitches that highlight the benefits our app could offer the healthcare system.
If you are interested in discussing how Joii could help cut the number of GP appointments, streamline symptom gathering and better support patients with menstrual health issues please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Joii is on cohort 5 of the DigitalHealth.London Launchpad programme.
The DigitalHealth.London Launchpad is a collaborative programme funded by two of London’s Academic Health Science Networks – UCLPartners and the Health Innovation Network – MedCity, CW+ and receives match funding from the European Regional Development Fund.