Queer health advocate A.G. Breitenstein is raising the bar of health care with the launch of Folx Health, which she touts as the first digital health provider designed with the medical needs and goals of the LGBTQIA+ community in mind.
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Breitenstein comes from both health and investment backgrounds as a co-founder of Humedica and co-founder and partner at Optum Ventures. While looking at consumer telehealth platforms, she was attracted to their accessibility and care experience.
“As a product person, I like that you can pick a group of people and build a telehealth experience,” Breitenstein told Crunchbase News. “I looked at my own community, particularly the queer community, who often have horrible experiences, accessibility and discrimination.”
Rather than just putting doctors online, her approach is to pull apart what health care means to the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as what it means for people to go to the doctor in order to tailor a care experience to the person instead of the basic model of diagnosis and treat, she added.
Folx has built a network of 12 clinicians so far. The population Folx is working with is “grossly underestimated,” Breitenstein said. She estimates there are 11 million people in this group, many of whom are under 30 and don’t have a primary care physician. And the population continues to grow, especially as more people don’t identify as either male or female.
The startup offers gender reaffirming hormone therapy, erectile dysfunction treatment, at-home STI testing, one-on-one consultations, and prescriptions priced with or without insurance. Folx is also assisting with family creation, an aspect of health care not often tailored for the queer and trans communities, Breitenstein said.
“Family creation is a really interesting place where we need health care,” she added. “It is at the intersection of clinical and lifestyle, so we want to feel seen, heard, celebrated and not the outright judgement.”
As Folx begins seeing more patients–the hard launch will be in January–the new funding will go toward building out clinical networks and developing offerings around hormone replacement therapy and sexual health. The company is operating in approximately six states and is expected to be in nearly all of the U.S. by January, Breitenstein said.
“We are looking to verify our initial data, but even if we come close, this will be a steep ramp of growth,” she added. “We look forward to rolling out those first products, continuing to build our network, have the operational boxes checked, and evaluate the data. If we meet all of that, we will go on to our A round.”
Illustration: Dom Guzman