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    “That’s Empowerment” – Dr. Tahir Mahmood on Flo’s PCOS Self-Assessment Tool

    Updated 10 November 2021 |
    Published 11 September 2019
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Dr. Tahir Mahmood, Obstetrician and gynecologist, Victoria Hospital, Chair of EBCOG Standards of Care, UK
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    To develop the PCOS Health Assistant — a tool that analyzes the symptoms a Flo user logs in the app and assesses the risk of PCOS — Flo collaborated with Dr. Tahir Mahmood, Chair of the Standards of Care and Position Statements group at the European Board and College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Learn more about this collaboration and how the Health Assistant can empower women and medical practitioners in this interview.

    Interview has been edited for clarity.

    Why did you decide to collaborate with Flo Health?

    “I think that Flo has a clearly defined, futuristic approach to sharing knowledge. Knowledge is power,” says Dr. Mahmood. “But the important thing is how to use that knowledge. And messages could be made in a simplistic way and without creating needless complexity.” 

    Dr. Mahmood helped create an interactive approach to advising people about their fertility and lifestyle. “There's a lot of material on the application and website. I think it's very user-friendly, and I'm pleased to help share that knowledge for everyday use. Everybody can benefit from it.”

    What can connecting medicine and technology do for women's health?

    Cisgender women are around 50% of the world’s population, and Dr. Mahmood believes that each healthy cisgender woman can play an essential part in human survival. 

    “If we did not understand the current issues in women's health, I think that the human race would be in danger,” he says.

    “Technology has given us a better opportunity to reach areas of the world where some forms of modern medicine aren’t as accessible. Mobile phones and access to Wi-Fi have made accessing knowledge easier. It’s our duty as providers and developers to share that knowledge in a digestible way. And that’s what Flo is doing.” 

    Flo’s PCOS self-assessment tool collects user data, just like a doctor will do when a patient visits. “It’s a very focused approach,” explains Dr. Mahmood. “A user will answer the app’s question, and then the system has to analyze the data and offer a certain direction. That’s exactly what I would do at my clinic for patients,” says Dr. Mahmood. 

    Science constantly changes, and new understandings shape the way health care providers advise patients. In Dr. Mahmood’s words, “Basic facts about the body remain the same, but we’re using different tools based on growing discoveries.” 

    The PCOS Health Assistant’s expected value and impact

    Dr. Mahmood believes that a user-friendly tool that helps people record and understand their physical experiences can make their life easier.

    “And that is what the Health Assistant does. It will use the diagram the user has submitted and cross-reference the response against other health concerns.”

    Creating access to credible medical info for everyone

    Dr. Mahmood appreciates the PCOS Health Assistant’s creative, straightforward approach. “We’re engaging with people, proactively answering their questions, looking into their concerns, and then suggesting when to see a specialist.”

    This self-assessment tool reliably directs users to the best info, including when to see the right specialist.

    Although each person’s experiences are unique, many symptoms are universal. “This resource is appropriate for anyone with ovaries.” 

    As with most things, “There will be variations. For example, PCOS looks different in northern Europe than Southeast Asia. This difference could be genetic rather than PCOS-related.” Since Flo’s tool is tailored to each user’s inputs, it is relevant to everybody, everywhere.

    How can self-assessment tools foster a proactive approach to health?

    While juggling a busy schedule, some people may feel tempted to ignore or downplay certain health signs. Dr. Mahmood shares an example: “People are under pressure at work, and they feel tired, exhausted. They might think, ‘This is because I'm overworking.’ But if they shifted their perspective a bit, they might realize they’re not eating well, not sleeping well, or dealing with a chronic health condition.”