Reproductive health is a growing concern for people all over the world, with as many as 1 in 8 couples struggling to conceive or sustain a healthy pregnancy. Approximately 48 million couples around the world live with infertility, a situation which is due to a number of varied factors.
Gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids, problems with ovulation or fallopian tubes, obesity, genetic disorders, low testosterone, sperm count and quality can all be underlying causes of infertility.
Another significant factor is that over the past decade, more and more women across all social classes have prioritised their education and careers over motherhood. Babies born to older mothers have a higher risk of certain chromosomal conditions, pregnancy-related complications and miscarriage.
However, on a more positive note, recent advances in assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) have made it more possible for couples with fertility issues to conceive. The number of live births achieved thanks to IVF treatments is on the rise, also due to the fact that more and more people are turning to the medical community for help.
As the number of couples seeking help from assisted reproductive techniques has grown significantly, so has the importance of patient engagement in their treatments.
PATIENT ENGAGEMENT IN EGG DONATION TREATMENTS
Women or couples who decide to undergo an egg donation treatment usually do so after other forms of assisted reproduction, such as IUI and IVF, have been considered, explored and unfortunately, failed. They are coping with mixed feelings of hope, disappointment, anxiety, grief, and often financial concerns.
In areas of healthcare like EDIVF, which involve high levels of emotion and intensive treatment, patient-centered care is essential, because couples need their ideas, doubts and concerns to be heard and taken into account. Coming to terms with the fact that you cannot use your own eggs to get pregnant is not easy, and for this reason, at OvobankUS, we understand the importance of involving the patient as far as possible in this process.
Patient engagement is defined as the ability to make an active choice to participate in healthcare in a way that is uniquely suited to the individual. It focuses on collaborating with the patient to create a more rewarding and satisfying experience for them. It also emphasizes the need for clear communication between healthcare workers and patients, as well as appropriate education and resources regarding patient care.
In assisted reproduction, patient engagement includes a variety of activities, such as providing information about the process and outcomes, discussing treatment options and goals, ongoing communication throughout the course of treatment, and creating a supportive relationship between the patient and the healthcare team. These activities are important for helping couples to feel supported and empowered in their journey to parenthood.
Engaged patients are more likely to understand their condition, be proactive in their health management, and make the necessary behaviour changes to positively impact their quality of life, and more specifically, their probabilities of conceiving. Patient engagement can help to create a sense of optimism and positive expectations, while reducing the distress and anxiety that many people face during egg donation treatments.
Shared decision-making is a process in which clinicians and patients can work together to discuss their condition, treatment options and their benefits or risks, so as to develop and implement an effective treatment plan, while taking into account the patients’ preferences.
With this is mind, OvobankUS enables patients and clinics to become, to the extent possible, directly involved in all decision-making processes, providing a service in various languages for Patient Care and Collaborating Centers.
We understand that choosing a donor is one of the most important decisions for patients undergoing donated egg treatments, therefore a pre-selection is carried out by means of a psychological test that includes all the possible information about any illness or genetic problem in the potential donor’s family. Our exhaustive donor screening process includes a battery of blood tests, psychological evaluations, and genetic studies, excluding almost 70% of the donation applicants for not meeting the requirements.
Additionally, and for extra peace of mind, patients who so wish have the option to request a genetic compatibility study between the donor and the prospective mother’s partner.
When starting an egg donation treatment, many patients are understandably concerned with the donor’s physical appearance. Thanks to the donation laws of some countries, we can offer our patients the possibility to see the donors’ physical characteristics, and by means of their photographs, they can select the donor that best suits their needs.
Our R&D&I department has developed different applications to offer our clients the opportunity to see donor accreditation documents and guarantees of their good health. Prospective parents, assisted reproduction centers and specialists can all view detailed profiles with comprehensive donor information and photos on our OvobankID platform.
OvobankUS also allows patients to request their donor eggs directly, without any intermediaries, to be sent to the collaborating center of their choice where their treatment will be performed. The patients themselves can complete the request with their physical and immunological characteristics, and those of their partner, so that our Donor Coordination Department can select the most compatible match for them.
Patients can also choose the number of donor eggs they need, with the added possibility of obtaining all the eggs from a stimulation cycle of a particular donor with the “exclusive donor” option. Furthermore, they can select one of our Clinical Pregnancy Plans, unique and fully personalized programs to guarantee the outcome of their assisted reproduction treatment.
We also offer different types of shipping, to provide a variety of solutions to meet patients’ needs, including individual shipments in the case that they want to start the treatment as soon as possible.
Ovotracker is a pioneering system created by our R&D&I department for monitoring each of the stages through which an egg passes from the moment of receiving the request at Ovobank, during transit, and until it reaches its destination. Thanks to the app, it is possible to monitor parameters such as temperature or GPS position of each batch, fully automating the process and reducing human errors to a minimum, thus giving peace of mind to collaborating centers and patients alike. Our team of OvobankUS Coordinators are also available to explain each step to collaborating clinics and patients.
In conclusion, we believe that patient engagement is crucial for successful outcomes in assisted reproduction. It is therefore important that healthcare providers acknowledge and support the emotional and physical needs of their patients, provide comprehensive information, and involve them in decision-making throughout the process. In doing so, couples are more likely to be satisfied with their experience and to achieve their dream of parenthood, which is ultimately our priority and our main goal.
Embryologist and CEO of the OVO Group, benchmark companies in the field of assisted reproduction, cryobiology and research: Ovoclinic assisted reproduction clinics; Ovobank, a frozen gamete bank with over 480 collaborating centers worldwide; Ovohorse and Ovoclone, equine assisted reproduction and leader in animal cloning techniques; and Ovolearning, the group’s training platform, which offers specialized courses and workshops for embryologists with the objective of training professionals from all over the world in the latest laboratory techniques, protocols and assisted reproductive technologies.
Enrique began his career as an assisted reproduction specialist in 2006. Since then, his professional trajectory has been marked out by numerous successes and achievements in this field of medicine. Having gained ample experience as an embryologist in the top clinics in Italy and the United States, he has trained in the latest laboratory techniques and carried out research which has led to the improvement of cell-freezing protocols and their application in the clinics in Spain where he has worked as Laboratory Director.
These days, Criado continues to conduct research and laboratory studies, and is actively involved in all quality improvement processes. He regularly gives presentations at conferences, teaches a variety of specialist courses, and is part of the teaching team of the first university postgraduate course dedicated to human assisted reproduction.