Holly’s perspective on “Changing fertility care for generations to come”

Holly’s perspective on “Changing fertility care for generations to come”

By Holly Sheffield, President, CooperSurgical, Inc.


For many couples and individuals, there is a strong desire to fulfill the dream of having a family. Those of us in the fertility industry understand that the pathway to parenthood is unique for everyone. As assisted reproductive technologies are becoming a prevalent factor in many of these pathways, it is vital that our industry works to create a better fertility journey for all.

As a trusted leader within reproductive solutions, I believe that we at CooperSurgical can play an impactful role in this effort. For decades, CooperSurgical has developed, acquired and expanded the availability of products and services that make a difference in fertility care. From artificial intelligence to digital connectivity, we are at the forefront of delivering cutting-edge technologies to fertility treatments. And we are committed to building on our legacy and leadership and deepen our partnerships to accelerate these advancements.

I believe that if we work together, clinics, organizations, authorities and industry can make a lasting positive impact on fertility care worldwide.”

At CooperSurgical, we recognize that the landscape of fertility is changing faster than ever, with increasing opportunities and challenges. If we work together, clinics, organizations, authorities and industry can make a lasting positive impact on fertility care worldwide. In this way, we can truly align with our vision: a world of healthy women, babies and families.

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Let’s address some of the global challenges that we see and how we aspire to help change fertility care.

The global demographic changes require that we change the standards of fertility care

Demographic changes taking place worldwide are lowering fertility rates. These factors include rising incomes, rising parental age, individual health issues and environmental factors.1-7

There is much more to learn about both female and male fertility, about the impact of both indoor and outdoor pollution, and how nutrition and stress may lower fertility rates. These discoveries are crucial to informing all fertility care stakeholders and develop innovative clinical approaches to fertility treatment. Today and in the future, close collaboration between industry and health care providers is key to developing these advancements in reproductive solutions.

“…close collaboration between industry
and health care providers is key…”

At CooperSurgical, our focus is on working to help elevate, standardize and automate workflows, making it easier for IVF clinics to optimize protocols for improved efficiencies and outcomes. This also allows clinicians more time to support their patients.

“As a partner throughout the entire fertility journey, we have a responsibility and ambition to bring our knowledge, evidence and expertise to clinics.”

As a partner throughout the entire fertility journey, we have a responsibility and ambition to bring our knowledge, evidence and expertise to clinics. We are committed to offering market-leading, high-quality embryology products that ensure repeatability, safety and security. We will continue to support changing the standards of fertility care through integrating advanced technologies such as connected digital platforms, RFID tracking and cryopreservation techniques into our offerings. We also aspire to pioneer emerging science and much-needed automation.

Addressing the need for quality data and transparency will help change the journey in fertility care

We have a shared goal of securing the best possible journey to parenthood. This means that we seek to offer patients the treatment that will result in pregnancy and childbirth, avoiding miscarriage and ensuring safety in the procedure.

Fertility is a unique area of health care where solutions often need to be tailored to a specific clinic or patient need. Even while we focus on standardization, we must not lose sight of the fact that no two patients – or patient journeys – are the same. There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer to fertility care. Therefore, we must ensure that the processes and solutions we offer can be tailored to suit each patient’s individual needs. Personalized solutions that can be powered with data and aided by artificial intelligence (AI) and digital knowledge-sharing.

…even when data is available, clinics may lack the resources, time or advanced training to interpret and make use of these insights easily.”

We know that fertility clinics always seek out the best data to inform and optimize their fertility treatments. Yet, even when data is available, clinics may lack the resources, time or advanced training to interpret and make use of these insights easily. We are committed to offering products and services that help bridge these needs. Recently, a single-center study showed a significant increase in ongoing pregnancy and live births and an apparent decrease in early pregnancy loss rates when our PGTaiSM 2.0 AI platform was used to screen embryos.8 This is an excellent example of how we are integrating AI technology that utilizes large data pools to impact fertility outcomes positively.

HollyArticleImage

As an industry partner throughout the fertility journey, we believe that knowledge-sharing is an essential resource in changing the journey of fertility care.  Sharing and building on best practices can spark the innovations we need to move fertility care into the future. In addition, by sharing best practices, we can foster better access to quality IVF treatment, improve outcomes and lower risks such as miscarriages or inheritance of life-altering medical conditions.

We are committed to providing learning and training platforms that empower knowledge-sharing and cross-learning between peers. Our ambition is to work across specialties and borders to empower a data transformation that will accelerate science and bring a higher level of insight, efficiency and trust to the entire fertility journey.

Barriers to quality fertility treatment require changing the access to fertility care

More than 180 million people around the world suffer from infertility and, in many countries, the availability of interventions to address infertility remains a challenge.9,10 Our ambition is for patients to attain the highest standard of reproductive health worldwide. To achieve this, greater support is needed to increase awareness about, availability of, and access to, quality fertility treatment for all those who seek to become parents.

“…greater support is needed to increase awareness about, availability of, and access to, quality fertility treatment for all those who seek to become parents.”

It is vital that infertility be recognized as a disease on a global scale. The World Health Organization (WHO), European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) and Resolve are some of the organizations already working tirelessly to shine a light on the far-ranging effects of infertility. The fertility industry has an important obligation to work with government, non-government, industry and patient organizations to increase this momentum. Together, we can drive education to help recognize the importance of the issue of infertility.

We must remember that the path to parenthood is different for every individual and couple. We need to ensure that options are expanded for all those who seek to build a family, whether they are younger, older, single, part of a heterosexual or same-sex relationship, or whatever the reason for their infertility, there needs to be a pathway to follow. The first step on that pathway is support and knowledge about infertility.

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“We need to ensure that options are expanded for all those who seek to build a family, whether they are younger, older, single, part of a heterosexual or same-sex relationship, or whatever the reason for their infertility, there needs to be a pathway to follow.”

We aspire to partner with industry, authorities and organizations to change the access to fertility care. This includes working with both health authorities and advocacy organizations to support the development of fertility care. An example is our positive collaboration with authorities in Japan. Here, we have been sharing our experiences and knowledge with government and regulatory bodies to improve the availability of fertility solutions and increase birth rates in the country. We will continue to be committed to raising our voice and joining the conversation with health care authorities worldwide.

At CooperSurgical, we’re already doing a lot. Yet, we can do more and we are just getting started. I believe we can make a real difference by continuing to push the boundaries of what is possible to build a better fertility journey for all.

That’s how together, we can partner to change fertility care.

And not just today, but for generations to come

References:

1 (1) United Nations Population Division. World Population Prospects: 2019 Revision. (2) Census reports and other statistical publications from national statistical offices, (3) Eurostat: Demographic Statistics, (4) United Nations Statistical Division. Population and Vital Statistics Report (various years), (5) U.S. Census Bureau: International Database, and (6) Secretariat of the Pacific Community: Statistics and Demography Programme. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.TFRT.IN

2 Fertility levels and trends in countries with intermediate levels of fertility
https://www.un.org/development/desa/pd/sites/www.un.org.development.desa.pd
/files/unpd_egm_200203_backgroundpaper_fertility_levels_and_trends_population_division.pdf

3Falling birth rates, key factors and pathways to overcome barriers to parenthood.
https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/defa43d0-en/index.html?itemId=/content/component/defa43d0-en

4 G. Nargund. (2009). Declining birth rate in Developed Countries: A radical policy re-think is required. Facts Views Vis Obgyn. 1(3): 191–193.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4255510/

5 The European Commission. (2020). Report on the Impact of Demographic Change.
https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/default/files/demography_report_2020_n.pdf

6 Berta Puig Ferrer. (2013). Environmental pollution and human fertility.
https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/18581654.pdf

7 Chatterjee, Siddhartha. (2016). Demand of pregnancy in advanced age: A challenge to fertility specialists. BLDE University Journal of Health Sciences. 1. 3. 10.4103/2456-1975.183267.  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305647981_Demand_of_pregnancy_in_advanced_age
_A_challenge_to_fertility_specialists

8 Buldo-Licciardi et al. (2020). Second generation artificial intelligence technology for preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) improves pregnancy outcomes in single thawed euploid embryo transfer cycles (STEET). In: American Society for Reproductive Medicine; 2020 Oct 19; virtual. (https://asrm.confex.com/asrm/2020/meetingapp.cgi/Paper/8645)

9 United Nations Population Fund, Danish Institute for Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. (2014). Reproductive Rights Are Human Rights: A Handbook for National Human Rights Institutions.
https://www.ohchr.org/documents/publications/nhrihandbook.pdf

10 WHO. (2020). Fact sheet on infertility.
https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/infertility

About the author

Ms. Sheffield has served as President of CooperSurgical, Inc., our women’s healthcare business, since July 2020. Previously, she served as Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer from June 2018 to July 2020. Prior to joining Cooper, Ms. Sheffield had over 20 years of experience in investment banking. She joined Cooper from UBS Securities LLC, where she was a Managing Director, Global Head of Medical Technology from 2009 to May 2018. From 2000 to 2009, Ms. Sheffield was at Credit Suisse and from 1997-2000, Ms. Sheffield was at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette until it was acquired by Credit Suisse. Ms. Sheffield received a B.S. from Cornell University and an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School.

Holly Sheffield

President, CooperSurgical, Inc

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