Ovum AI launches Australia’s first longitudinal dataset to revolutionize women’s healthcare

Powered by artificial intelligence and women’s data, health management app Ovum A.I reached a significant milestone today as it enters its pilot phase with hundreds of women. Ovum will pioneer Australia's first-ever longitudinal AI women’s data set with the aim to close the gender health gap and transform how women experience healthcare.

Designed and created by Dr Ariella Heffernan-Marks, Ovum is Australia’s first holistic AI health assistant co-designed with women. More than 3.3 million Australian women use apps for reproductive health and fertility, but Ovum is the first to look at women’s health holistically. Ovum is an app for every woman, at every stage of her health journey.

CEO and founder Dr Heffernan-Marks said, “I’m so delighted to reach this milestone in our journey at Ovum, and for women’s health in Australia.”

“One in two women navigate a chronic health issue in Australia and by leveraging the power of AI, our bespoke personal health assistant works to understand and empower women with resources and confidence to manage their health over their lifetime.”

“Women’s health has systemically been underfunded and under-represented, and with women being under or misdiagnosed, my vision is to create an accessible resource that is designed with women, for women.”

“I have witnessed firsthand the discrimination and overlooking the healthcare system does when it comes to women's gender, age, sexuality, disability, migration status and especially income as we face a cost-of-living crisis. This was a driving force behind the development of Ovum, to create a more even playing field.”

“Ovum integrates and stores blood tests, imaging reports, letters and referrals and has an interactive function for women to ask questions and track any health issues.”

“This extensive record keeping is essential when it comes to complex or chronic health conditions where it can take five years for women to be diagnosed with a general health condition and between 7 and 12 years to reach a diagnosis of endometriosis.”

On the technical side, Dr Heffernan-Marks is committed to addressing existing bias in tech and healthcare, as well as prioritizing privacy and security.

“Existing AI can perpetuate bias in healthcare outcomes for women. Ensuring that our AI is women-centric and draws from a diverse dataset is essential to its effectiveness and the impact it will have on our users.”

“Privacy and security are a key priority for us, with users not being required to provide identifiable personal details. Maintaining the trust and integrity of Ovum is essential and that can only happen when people know their data is being protected with sophisticated technology and protections in place,” Dr Heffernan-Marks said.

Ovum is backed by a reputable Board that includes Associate Professor Susan Evans, Gynecologist and Pain physician as well as the co-founder of the Pelvic Pain Foundation of Australia, Associate Professor Amanda Henry Obstetrician and Gynecologist at UNSW and St George Hospital, and Senior Research Fellow at the George Institute for Global Health, and Andy Timms, Managing Director of Nakatomi.

Associate Professor Evans shares Dr Heffernan-Marks' enthusiasm and optimism for the future.

“Women with pelvic pain have a wide range of symptoms that vary over time and can be particularly confusing for those affected,” Associate Professor Evans said.

“Pelvic pain is an area that has been under-researched, under-managed and under-resourced. Women recognise this and a high proportion have a strong altruistic wish to improve care and contribute to improved knowledge in this area.”

“For these reasons, the Pelvic Pain Foundation of Australia welcomes the innovation proposed by Dr Ariella Heffernan-Marks. Her proposed app combines benefits to the user with their desire to have their data used for the benefit of scientific knowledge and others affected by pain. This app represents something truly new in the app space.”

The femtech sector is on track to be worth USD$108 billion by 2032 and with generative AI set to be worth USD$2 trillion by 2030, Dr Heffernan-Marks has tapped into a market that will directly benefit women across Australia and grow over the next decade.

Wollemi Capital Group CEO Victoria Denholm was an early investor in Ovum.

From my first meeting with Ariella, I was incredibly inspired by her passion and vision for the future of female healthcare. She is an incredibly talented founder. We’re proud to support founders using technology in innovative ways to disrupt their industries and have a positive impact.” 

Victoria Denholm, CEO, Wollemi Capital Group

Nakatomi, an award-winning Australian-based venture studio has co-invested and developed Ovum from idea, prototype and now the MVP.

Anna Hunt, former Google creative lead and now strategic business developer for Ovum said,  “When we first met Ariella, we were so inspired by her vision to really fix systemic issues and help women wherever they are in their health journey. So inspired that not only did we help develop Ovum, but we invested. We are super excited to put this into the hands of real users and start to see the value it begins to bring to their lives – in what we hope is a world first.”

Ovum is the culmination of more than four years work, drawing on Dr Heffernan-Mark's medical expertise and background in reproductive biology and embryology. In 2023, she was awarded the TOW Randwick Innovation Precinct People’s Choice Award in the Clinical Division for her proposed clinical trials of Ovum.  Just last month, Dr Heffernan-Marks received the ‘Best Project Award’ and was award $20,000 through LIFTwomen APAC cohort.

Dr Heffernan-Marks is calling for women to sign up to test Ovum to be a part of the pilot in training the AI.  

“Testing and receiving feedback from women is a huge priority for us. Every question, story and concern is valid, and this pilot phase is to ensure that women are empowered, taken seriously and heard. I plan on supporting and working with women on this journey to contribute to better health outcomes for women across Australia,” Dr Heffernan-Marks said.



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