Interview with Amanda French, Co-Founder and CEO of Emme

by | May 26, 2021 | Ferolyn Fellowship, Women's Health

If you forget to take a vitamin here and there, you’ll probably be fine. But forget to take a birth control pill, and you could well end up with a very unexpected situation. That’s where the Emme Smart Birth Control System performs an invaluable service as it automatically tracks pill usage and sends customized reminders, while also offering personalized support through reproductive health guidance on next steps if a dose is missed. 

Led by Amanda French, a Ferolyn graduate, the company, which stems from the Stanford Biodesign program, launched the Bluetooth-enabled smart case and app last August. The system works with more than 100 birth control brands and reduced missed pills by 80% in beta testing. 

Expanding the impact with more services

Since the launch, the team has been focused on building out a fully integrated system for women using birth control pills and recently released EmmeRx, an additional offering within Emme’s app that includes a telemedicine function and prescription delivery. EmmeRx is initially available in these states – California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. 

With the addition of EmmeRx, Emme addresses more than just daily pill usage, but also the multifaceted reasons women might fail to properly take birth control, including the struggle to find a prescription and take it to the pharmacy. The new system solves this challenge by allowing subscribers to access telemedicine offerings to seek the initial prescription and then setting up prescription delivery. 

The goal was to make the pill as accessible as possible, but also personal, with a detailed questionnaire that includes the patient’s health history, goals for the pill and general information which they submit online. A clinician reviews the information and seeks clarification if necessary, then writes a prescription to the pharmacy for delivery.

“With EmmeRx we are connecting the dots between the patient, the pharmacy and the provider, which typically are siloed despite the fact that they can achieve improved outcomes by working together,” said Amanda. “We’re proud that Emme is the first ever integrated system for people on birth control pills that closes the loop on the pill experience from prescribing through daily use.”

Acceptance of telemedicine has accelerated during COVID-19, making it easier for anyone can get access to the contraception they need, without the barriers of having to set up and conduct a doctor’s visit. 

But while their goal is providing easy access, they are staunchly committed to privacy, including securing a third-party certification for their HIPAA compliance. “We took this extra step to ensure our systems were as robust as they could be,” Amanda says. “We get a lot of questions from women before they join Emme about our privacy policies and how we handle data. We know this topic is top of mind for our members, and we are committed to a high standard here which further builds trust.”

Growing the community 

One of Emme’s goals is to build a supportive community for women, and they have been pleased with the rise in social media engagement as women share their journey and recommend the product to friends. Based on interest, they recently launched a brand ambassador program to spread the word on college campuses. “Once you find something that works for you, you want to tell your friends, and they in turn appreciate a recommendation from a trusted source. We are seeing that dynamic in play with Emme,” Amanda says.

In addition to this personal touch, they’ve garnered extensive five-star reviews on the website. “We knew this product would have an impact on members, and it’s rewarding to see it at scale,” Amanda says. “Members have used words such as ‘life changing’ when describing their experience with our product, which is exactly the type of experience we set out to deliver.” 

Because of the important impact they are making on women’s health, they were named among Fast Company’s 10 most innovative wellness companies of 2021, alongside household names like Peloton and meditation app Calm. 

“This was a really exciting accolade, not only for our team, but also because it is so meaningful to finally see women’s and reproductive health be recognized in a publication of this caliber, earning the mainstream recognition it has long deserved,” said Amanda. “There’s no question women’s health merits this attention, given that we are more than 50% of the population, but historically it’s been overlooked so this was a really noteworthy achievement.”

Giving credit to the Ferolyn Fellowship

Amanda remains in touch with her fellow graduates; she recently participated in a Springboard event with Maria Artunduaga, MD, and is looking forward to supporting Holly Rockweiler  as she develops her women’s health company. “It’s a great community that continues to help me so I am motivated to continue to give back and stay connected,” Amanda says.

There’s one phrase she heard from Angela Macfarlane during a mentoring session as a fellow that impacted her so much that it’s foundational to her company culture: “Patients are waiting.”

“That’s the sense of urgency and energy I have brought to Emme, and it has really resonated with the team as we have worked diligently to get the smart case and EmmeRx to market,” says Amanda.  “We have found that the status quo has been so lackluster, especially in women’s health, and therefore this idea permeates the company’s culture—this realization that patients are waiting for something better has motivated our team to continue working towards this innovation.” 

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