Elvie, a femtech hardware startup, has signed a strategic partnership with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) to tackle urinary incontinence in women. Through the partnership, the NHS will supply the Elvie Kegel Trainer, a connected device which takes women through a five-minute Kegel exercise to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles.
Women are 5 times more likely to develop urinary incontinence then men. That’s because of the effects of childbirth and the menopause. A study in 2002 found that 32% of women in the UK, 34% in Germany, 32% in France and 15% in Spain had symptoms of urinary incontinence in the previous 30 days.
Women are more likely to suffer from stress urinary incontinence than men. Stress urinary incontinence is the most common form of urinary incontinence, comprising 78% of cases. In 70% of stress urinary incontinence cases, symptoms can be reduced or eliminated by pelvic floor muscle training. However, 30% of women can’t exercise their pelvic floor correctly with written or verbal instruction alone.
For Elvie, who was exhibiting with us at the WT | Wearable Technologies Show 2017 MEDICA, the NHS partnership is their first national reimbursement partnership.
The NHS partnership, is the Elvie’s first national reimbursement partnership. The startup is highlighting the opportunity for its connected technology to help reduce symptoms of urinary incontinence, including those suffered by new mothers or in cases of stress urinary incontinence.
The Elvie Trainer is designed to make pelvic floor exercising fun and easy for women. It’ll deliver real-time feedback via an app that also gamifies the activity, directing users via workouts intended to bolster their pelvic floor and thus help reduce symptoms of urinary incontinence. If the user is contracting incorrectly, the device can alert them.
While there’s no absolute necessity for a device to perform the required muscle contractions to strengthen the pelvic floor, Elvie trainer is intended to help women know if they’re performing the exercises correctly or effectively.
A 2004 study showed around a third of women can’t exercise their pelvic floor correctly with written or verbal instruction alone. It says that biofeedback devices (generally, and not specifically the Elvie Trainer) have been shown to increase success rates of pelvic floor training programs by 10 percent – which it says other studies have suggested can lower surgery rates by 50 percent, cutting treatment costs by £424 per patient within the first year.
“Until now, biofeedback pelvic floor training devices have only been available through the NHS for at-home use on loan from the patient’s hospital, with patient allocation dependent upon demand. Elvie Trainer will be the first at-home biofeedback device available on the NHS for patients to keep, which will support long-term motivation,” it adds.
Normally retailing at £169.00, Elvie Trainer is now available through NHS Supply Chain at no cost to the patient.