We Need to Fix the Broken Female Healthcare System—In Conversation with the CEO of OM, Anca Griffiths

Healthcare

 OM’s mission is to make knowledge the tool for bettering women’s health.

“After I had my first child, I was struck by how uninformed I was about my body during the postpartum period and by the lack of tools available to me for healing my body”, says Anca Griffiths, the CEO and co-founder of online health platform, OM

To make sure everyone can access health support and information from the best health experts across the world at their fingertips, Griffiths founded OM with co-founder and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner Dr. Gigi Ngan. 

Originally from Canada, Griffiths has lived and worked in Europe and Asia throughout her career, during which she had to mitigate the healthcare systems of these diverse environments and their different approaches and attitudes towards women’s health. Seeing the shortfalls, she felt the need for a platform that could make information about women’s healthcare more readily available and engaging. This struggle set Griffiths on the path to creating OM.

What is OM?

OM aims to bring together respected and influential voices in healthcare and provide a platform for consumers everywhere to access their respective knowledge and guidance. Today, it consists of parallel offerings for the corporate and consumer sectors. For the corporate sector, it offers engaging preventative health support at scale for every employee (men included). For the consumer sector, it offers a space where women can find evidence-based clinical information and relevant, compassionate communication from its experts. The team now consists of Griffiths as CEO, along with internationally-recognized sex and gender medicine experts Dr. Alyson McGregor and Dr. Marjorie Jenkins as Directors.

The experts who partner with OM are passionate about making their knowledge and support easily understandable and accessible, as too often in the past they saw patients suffering or being taken advantage of due to the lack of information available. Hence, the opportunity to use OM as a channel to empower consumers with information in engaging and interactive formats became very appealing to them.

“It’s basically reinventing the way we do health and wellness by prioritizing educating consumers first so that they can make informed self-care actions versus what’s happening now, which is buying into a [popular health] product [without understanding their unique health needs].”

Numbers confirm this, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that up to 90% of common and deadly chronic diseases are largely preventable through healthy lifestyle and early prevention measures, yet only 8% of adults over 25 use appropriate preventative lifestyle measures. “Clearly the right type of health information is not reaching the consumer in a meaningful way,” says Griffiths. 

Griffiths’ background in the luxury industry made her acutely aware of the importance of accreditation and how it promoted trust in the individuals they were looking to help. “Talking to the OM experts made me realize that a lot of what we know about the mainstream diets and workouts etc. is through being sold something, with a product or a service being presented as a solution. And often, because of this, we are working against our own bodies.” Keeping this in mind, the experts on the platform do not advertise or endorse any products to the clients they interact with on the platform. 

How Covid-19 acted as an accelerator for OM 

Building a diverse and international panel of experts is one of the main pillars of the OM brand, but it was thanks to the transition to online communication brought about by COVID that changed consumer habits in a flash. The global shift online made it a lot easier to get the framework of the platform in place and make it accessible to individuals across the world.

The established user habits of online connectivity mean that OM can build an incredibly diverse roster of OM experts and bring the various modes of healthcare, including those that people didn’t even know were available before, to consumer’s knowledge. OM boasts of experts from across the globe specializing in various fields, from Western medicine, physiotherapy, breathwork and TCM to clinical hypnotherapy, to name a few.

OM Corporate Health 

OM’s main focus today is integrating OM in the corporate health programs of large multinational companies. According to Griffiths, the current corporate health approach is lacking access to quality global experts, attention to employee privacy and adaptation of healthcare advice to local cultures.

Many corporates are merely going with overarching health buzzwords and trends, such as meditation, nutrition or exercise, to offer very general help without targeting specific health challenges. OM hopes to change this for the better with a subscription-based bundle that employees can access and do so privately.

“There are many subjects that dramatically impact the mental and physical health of employees, like anxiety, pregnancy loss, pelvic floor incontinence and postpartum. These cannot and should not be brought into a boardroom, yet they make the biggest difference to employees being in optimal health.”

OM does not track employee data in order to preserve employee privacy while providing companies key performance indicators (KPIs) in order to better understand their team’s needs and offer meaningful support without pinpointing them. This allows employees to access information specific to their own circumstances in anonymity instead of being restricted to overarching programs.

Why target women on the consumer side?

Women are the largest consumers of healthcare. Yet, women across the world are the least informed in appropriate health and wellbeing for their bodies.

This is mainly because today there is a lack of credible health information through accessible and engaging channels, such as social media. The information that we are exposed to is either pulled from male centric health research that does not apply to the female bodies, or it’s simply ineffective health remedies that are popularized on the market.

The result is that women are generally misinformed, taken advantage of and left using band-aid solutions that do little for long term health. In light of this, OM’s goal is to reposition credentialed experts at the center of consumer healthcare as channels of veritable information, and in doing so women can become empowered and informed in their self-care.

What’s next for OM?

When asked about how to make the platform more widely accessible to consumers of various social and economic strata, Griffiths says that while the process is complex, OM is currently developing many products to reach a wider audience. To begin with, The OM Health book series, one of their upcoming projects, with World Changers Media.

The first book in the series, Why Women Aren’t Winning at Health (But Can), is set to be released in the fall of 2022. In addition, there are plans for an OM Digital Magazine that will bring the information from the masterclasses and experts in captivating and digestible formats.

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Banner image courtesy of Anca Griffiths

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