TMRW Life Sciences – Cryostorage Platform
The world’s first automated platform for managing frozen eggs and embryos in IVF
The Business Problem
TMRW Life Sciences is a fertility tech company founded with the simple mission of safeguarding the world’s most precious cells for life by providing unprecedented levels of safety and security.
In vitro fertilization was first adapted from livestock breeding more than 40 years ago and the tools fertility clinics used to manage human frozen eggs and embryos had remained largely unchanged. Error-prone mechanical processes occasionally led to the loss of thousands of frozen eggs and embryos as well as incidents in which the wrong embryo was transferred into patients. Also, clinicians sometimes suffered burns from handling liquid nitrogen. Skyrocketing demand for IVF services called out for a better solution.
The Client’s Challenge
The company envisioned introducing a digital change of custody linking embryo with owner to replace an embryo storage and transport system that relied upon hand-labeling and logging of specimens, measuring liquid nitrogen levels in cryology by eye, tracking patient data through insecure paper logs, and time-consuming cataloging and storage retrieval. They also sought to better manage storage temperatures. A major issue: TMRW’s innovative new technology prototype system that included hardware, software and robotics was not user-friendly or commercializable.
TMRW presented us with the desired software. Our first task was to clearly understand and map out issues with anticipated cryogenic workflow, hardware and software systems, plus embryo and user safety.
We employed our proprietary three-phase development process. In the discovery phase, we interviewed users, embryology lab directors, embryologists, clinicians and a radio frequency identification (RFI) expert about specific requirements, conducted live observation of procedures and held co-creation workshops. Then, collaborating with our client, we created user experience workflow maps that identified pain points, risks and opportunities for improvement that guided system design. Hardware challenges included specifying materials and engineering end product that needed to live and operate in -320°F (-160°C).
We succeeded in our objective of developing the hardware and integrating it with the software and robotics to fulfill our client’s desire for a streamlined embryo and egg storage and transport system. The benefits were simplified user workflow, increased system reliability and safety. As a rapidly growing startup, TMRW relied heavily on our development team as they ramped up
internal resources and built their company.
Within months of the platform’s commercial launch, it had been adopted by a number of prominent fertility clinics. As the result of this transformative approach, Fast Company recognized TMRW as a 2021 World Changing Ideas Award finalist in its software category.
Design & Research Strategy
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