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WINFertility’s Founder On Being In The Business of Miracles

Brought to you by WINFertility

20 years ago, orthopedic surgeon turned entrepreneur Dr. Roger Shedlin saw an opportunity to help families who were looking for a miracle. He saw that the process for accessing fertility services was completely overwhelming, given the lack of fertility benefits in the healthcare marketplace, the astronomical prices of fertility treatment and the complexity of obtaining assistance in starting a family. Dr. Shedlin wanted to change that. He wanted to help ease the roller coaster journey that fertility treatment inevitably is for families. He also wanted to educate payers such as employers and insurers about the advantages of offering a fertility benefit.

WINFertility was born from Dr. Shedlin’s inspiration and yearning to make a difference in this important and rapidly changing field. Since inception, WINFertility has revolutionized the delivery of fertility treatment and improved access to the best doctors and technology.

We stopped by his offices to talk about everything from the cost efficacy of WINFertility, the importance of offering fertility benefits and all the miracles they’ve created since the beginning.

Jenna Marie Bostock: Tell me about the inception of WINFertility (“WIN”)—where did the inspiration come from?

Dr. Shedlin: WIN builds on my multi-decade experience developing specialty benefit management companies that are designed to improve clinical outcomes, provider network performance, quality, value and patient experience in a range of high cost, complex specialties.

When I observed the large and growing number of couples struggling to start families and the rapidly advancing technology in the field of Reproductive Endocrinology, I thought that fertility would be a highly appropriate area to apply what we had learned in other specialties.

Jenna Marie Bostock: It’s such a unique business model, helping patients get through this fertility struggle by partnering with pharmacies and doctors and genetics labs. What was the initial concept based on?

Dr. Shedlin: In almost every area of medicine, the best quality of care is the most cost effective.  Applying this principle to fertility, we designed a program that brings together the highest quality providers and encourages them to perform the most advanced treatments. We then coupled their services with available access to our FertilityCoach® Nurses, all experienced RN’s in the fertility field who provide the clinical and emotional support that patients look for as they navigate this complex and challenging journey. WIN’s program includes all aspects of care – medical, pharmacy and genetics – so that the patients’ treatment is optimally coordinated with a single point of contact and support. This helps patients achieve the best outcomes, value, and importantly, maintain peace of mind.

Jenna Marie Bostock: What was the original mission statement, are you still very true to that today?

Dr. Shedlin: Our company’s tag line captures our mission: “Hope. Believe. Conceive. Achieve.”  Our vision is to democratize fertility treatment, improving access to the most advanced assisted reproductive technologies, delivered by superior quality providers at high value price points. Everyone’s goals are aligned.  The prospective parent is hoping for a healthy child as soon as possible, and promoting care to advance that goal is also the most cost effective. As WIN has grown in terms of the number of patients we help, companies we serve, geographies we cover (we are national) and technologies we offer, our company has remained true to our mission.

Jenna Marie Bostock: As a CEO and President yourself, do you think that all companies should consider offering a managed fertility benefit, and why? Do you think it helps to attract/retain talent and mitigate risks/costs while being family friendly?

Dr. Shedlin: We have seen a dramatic growth in the number of companies that recognize offering fertility benefits is good for their business. As our demographics and social mores have evolved, forward-thinking companies that meet the changing needs of their diverse workforce are likely to perform better.  Numerous studies from benefit consultants and firms that track fertility in the workplace have shown that employees are more likely to join and stay at a company offering a fertility benefit.  Moreover, WIN’s properly managed fertility benefit is surprisingly cost effective, because it reduces the incidence of multiple births, which are an expensive complication of mismanaged fertility care and can drive avoidable costs related to premature births and chronic long-term illness.

Jenna Marie Bostock: What do you think is the biggest hurdle of launching a company like this in the healthcare world?

Dr. Shedlin: One challenge is that much of what we do is counter-intuitive.  For example, many would think that offering the most advanced treatment by the best trained doctors as soon as possible would be prohibitively expensive.  In fact, by bringing together all aspects of fertility care and strong patient support, we are able to substantially reduce costs by improving pregnancy rates and reducing multiple births.  As the first and longest tenured infertility management company, we did not initially see employers focusing on managing this niche subspecialty.  Over time WIN’s  collaborations — with consumers paying out of pocket and with insurers and employers covering fertility benefits, including surrogacy, egg freezing and adoption – have helped bring the importance of properly managing fertility care into the public eye.

Jenna Marie Bostock: Why fertility? What made you get into this field specifically, having come originally from the orthopedic surgeon side?

Dr. Shedlin: I founded a company in the fertility field because I believed that I could apply what I learned in other complex specialties to reproductive medicine, in order to help the large number of patients struggling to have families.  I am deeply gratified that we have had the opportunity to help so many patients over the last two decades.

Jenna Marie Bostock: In terms of the big picture, what are you hoping to change within the healthcare world?

Dr. Shedlin: I have always believed that encouraging the best doctors to provide the most advanced, appropriate care to large populations and offering patients information and support enhances clinical and financial results for the healthcare system. My experience has supported this thesis in a range of specialties, including fertility.

Jenna Marie Bostock: How many couples have you helped become parents since the inception of WIN?

Dr. Shedlin: WIN has worked with over 100,000 people in its two decades of operation.  I am grateful that these large numbers of patients have allowed us to be there with them during this challenging and important part of their lives. Working with our patients is what I enjoy. Being there to help with something as life-changing as starting a family is very gratifying.

Jenna Marie Bostock: What do you attribute that large number to?

Dr. Shedlin: I believe that the design of our program and our pregnancy results have driven our company’s growth and long-term success in the field. Our programs are engineered to put the patient first. Employer groups we work with find this extremely valuable as it provides ongoing emotional support that helps employees stay productive throughout their journey. The Fertility Coaches become the patient’s personal advocate. This has resonated with patients and physicians alike, and has driven our company’s growth and long-term success in the field.

Jenna Marie Bostock: For those entrepreneurs still struggling on making their dreams a reality, what advice would you leave them with?

Dr. Shedlin: My advice is to build a company that does well by doing good.  There is nothing better than having a corporate mission to help others.  It inspires your team and customers and gives purpose to the years of hard work.