As the Senior Director of Commercial Development and Strategic Accounts at Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Joy Lewin is trying to help couples take the first step in their fertility journey. One in eight U.S. couples is infertile, which amounts to 6.5 million Americans of reproductive age. Of those, 2.2 million people are actively trying to get pregnant. Some seek fertility help from their family doctor or OB-GYN and others make appointments at fertility clinics. About 800K will get pregnant. That still leaves 1.4 million people who could benefit from treatment but, in reality, only about 150K access it. AWS enterprise strategist Miriam McLemore spoke to Joy about how Ferring is innovating to help those 1.3 million people create the family of their dreams.
From Test-Tube Babies to Helping Cancer Patients
Miriam McLemore: You’ve spent the last two decades of your career in reproductive medicine. What’s that been like?
Joy Lewin: The first IVF baby, which we used to call “test-tube babies,” is now 42 years old. Her name is Louise Brown, and she was conceived and born in the U.K. I’ve had the privilege of meeting her. I was also fortunate to meet the first IVF baby in the U.S., who is now 39 years old. I can’t tell you how wonderful it’s been to experience all the advancements in reproductive medicine all these years.
Innovation is just a different way of thinking about things, with a positive outcome.”
Miriam McLemore: One of those advancements has been the Heartbeat Program, which you started in 2012 to help women in their 20s and 30s, who’ve been diagnosed with cancer, preserve their eggs before cancer treatment. Can you tell us more about that?
Joy Lewin: The program gives newly diagnosed cancer patients access to Ferring fertility medications at no cost. We are committed to helping patients, and this enables us to provide hope to cancer patients so they can have a family after they finish their treatments. I’m always trying to find new ways to help patients take the first step in their fertility journeys. For me, innovation is just a different way of thinking about things with a positive outcome.
The Real Barrier to Seeking Treatment
Miriam McLemore: Speaking of innovation, you participated in an AWS Digital Innovation workshop to reinvent Ferring’s process for reaching women that otherwise wouldn’t seek fertility treatment. What specific challenges were you looking to address?
Joy Lewin: Everyone assumes the number one barrier to seeking IVF treatment is cost. But in the last few years, we’ve made a concerted effort to understand why more people are not accessing treatment. Our market research of 2,000 potential patients shows that it’s often fear that keeps women from taking the first step above and beyond cost.
Fertility Appointments at the Click of a Button
Miriam McLemore: During an AWS Digital Innovation engagement, you start with the customer problem statement and work backward to create customer value by addressing the root problem. How did this approach help you leverage the findings from your market research?
The aha moment for all of us was, ‘Let’s stop focusing on cost and speak instead to the emotional burden that keeps these women from seeking treatment.’”
Joy Lewin: It made us sit and think about what we’re really trying to accomplish. The aha moment for all of us was, “Let’s stop focusing on cost and speak instead to the emotional burden that keeps these women from seeking treatment.”
Miriam McLemore: Once you had this insight, what kind of solution did you develop?
Joy Lewin: The first iteration was a program we called Fertility House Calls 1.0. Working with AWS, Slalom, and a fertility clinic in Denver, we built a digital platform where people could enter their contact details and schedule an appointment to have a nurse and financial counselor from the fertility clinic come to their home to interview them and discuss their treatment options. We rolled that out in January 2020 but then COVID-19 hit in March, which put the brakes on.
The Pivot to Telehealth
Miriam McLemore: What adjustments did you make to maintain the program?
Joy Lewin: We decided to take advantage of all the telehealth consultations that were happening because of the pandemic. Working with Slalom, our website partner, we launched a robust media campaign to drive patients to the website where they can schedule telehealth visits with fertility clinics near their homes. In November 2020, we rolled out the program in eight markets. We’re now in 12 markets and have 100 fertility clinic networks with more than 275 locations registered with the site. In February, we had over 1,000 patient appointment requests. By September, we plan to roll out the program throughout the U.S. But we’re not done. We know that only 50% of the people who have an initial consult follow through to treatment. So I’m sure there will be more iterations of the Fertility House Calls program to address that.
Senior Director of Commercial Development and Strategic Accounts, Ferring Pharmaceuticals
Joy Lewin is a highly accomplished pharmaceutical professional, with innovative marketing talent spanning a 30-plus year career of proven results. The last 23 years have been focused primarily on Reproductive Medicine. Joy has been actively involved as both a Board Member of the American Infertility Association from 2003-2007 and Chairman of the ASRM Industry Board Committee from 2005-2007. In addition, in 2013, she developed the “HeartBeat Program” which is designed to offer newly diagnosed cancer patients the ability to access Ferring fertility products at no cost, and was the driving force for the creation of the 501c3 Alliance for Fertility Preservation. Before joining Ferring, Joy was a sales and marketing executive at Abbott Labs and Organon.
Enterprise Strategist, Amazon Web Services
Before joining Amazon, Miriam was the Chief Information Officer, Corporate and Consumer Technologies and a leader in the Global Information Technology Division of The Coca-Cola Company. In this role, she provided global leadership across the enterprise on all technology matters in support of global marketing, consumer/commercial leadership, product R&D, human resources, legal, sustainability, public affairs; and strategic security.
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