Marilyn is Becoming

The story of a health app in development from our CTO and Founder - Greg. 

April 24, 2020

You have probably heard a bit about how Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is changing the way we look at a lot of industries.

Healthcare and diagnostics are no exception.

This field has very exciting potential but in the case of some health conditions, using the wrong algorithmic approach to diagnosis can actually proliferate bias.
This can lead to poor outcomes for members of the community that are incorrectly or inaccurately represented in current research and practice.
It's commonly based on factors like sex, gender and ethnicity.

In fact, if you'd like to read more on the topic, there is a great article from Women in Global Health that outlines the issue.

At Marilyn, we asked 'how can we harness these tools to do better by communities that continually suffer as a result of data biases'?

We had a good reason. The design of our solution started by knowing who we are.

The background of experience

At Marilyn, we are a two-founder company. Endometriosis has played a significant role in both our lives for very different reasons. Co-Founder Steph experienced an unnecessarily convoluted and demoralising road to diagnosis. It forced her to ask tough questions of herself and her goals. I know she'll share more of her experiences with you as we move forward on Marilyn.

As CTO, co-founder and partner to Steph, I have experienced first-hand the difficulties she went through to get diagnosed, taken seriously and manage her condition.
I've learnt what it is to go through the whole experience of endometriosis diagnosis and treatment, and often been shocked and surprised at the difficulty some medical professionals have had in managing, identifying and understanding her experiences of pain and debilitatingly heavy bleeding.

Mostly, it caught me by surprise to see how much Steph had to develop expert knowledge in the condition while some doctors had to ask her to spell 'endometriosis' out loud for them.

Each time I have witnessed a conversation between patient and doctor, it has felt as though dismissal has come before empathy and science, with very few exceptions.

Worse still, is that this does not reflect the type of interactions I have had when visiting the GP myself. The difference for me has been stark and shocking. I'm constantly in awe of the strength she has pulled together to get diagnosed, get treated and get emergency help for her pain.

Steph is not alone and neither am I as a partner who has watched this process. It has to change, and that's why we started Marilyn.

What is Marilyn Health - The App

Marilyn Health is a work in progress. Its design is based on algorithmic models that are backed by reputable studies in endometriosis, plus the essential patient testimonies so many have been kind enough to share with us.

It's designed to be trustworthy, unbiased and aid the patient in conversation with their GP. Getting the initial gynaecological referral can be really hard work, but Marilyn plans to disrupt this pattern.

It's key goals are;

  1. To show unbiased, reliable data that can identify the likelihood of endometriosis in a patient
  2. To challenge the prolific assumptions that don't constitute real sciencearound menstruation, period pain, sexual health and sexual organs that are deeply ingrained in medicine
  3. To understand that patient testimony is enough to seek further referral and treatment, and not ever an excuse to diminish or devalue pain or the disruption of a patient's life
  4. To advocate for the patient in pain, to trust and believe their experience and to challenge the term 'normal' with regard to menstrual bleeding and pain

We are starting with fresh data. We are asking more questions. We are visualising that information and aiming to 'clear the air' and challenge the status quo that holds so many patients in pain and stasis for 7.5 years.

We want Marilyn to be the 'go-to' support for patients with menstrual pain, deep pain on sexual penetration, hormonally-related mood issues, pain using the toilet and bloating and cramping. No one needs to live with these symptoms dismissed.

We won't stop until Marilyn can help patients get to the right specialists, right from the start.

If Marilyn can identify endometriosis symptoms early, patients will have the power to pursue their treatment before it grabs hold of their lives.

This is what we are becoming. And we are very proud.

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