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The Right Way: IVF1 Conquers Infertility with Technology and Patient Service

By: Unknown / Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Our series “The Right Way” profiles RightSignature power users, revealing their success secrets and the technology tools they use every day.

Dr. Randy Morris is the physician in charge of IVF1, a groundbreaking center for reproductive and fertility medicine. IVF1 is best known for their expertise with a new treatment known as In-Vitro Maturation (IVM), and were the first practice in the U.S. to achieve a live birth using that treatment.

To maintain their status as a top-of-the line, pioneering practice for reproductive medicine, IVF1 constantly stays abreast of the latest technological developments in a field of medicine that is rapidly growing and changing, and uses that same drive and innovation to provide the best possible service towards their patients, as well. RightSignature’s Steve Stormoen caught up with Dr. Morris to talk about IVF1, their successes, and the role of emerging technology in medical care and service.

What’s the story behind IVF1? What drew you to this line of work?

RM: IVF1 is an advanced reproductive treatment center. We treat patients who have infertility, recurrent miscarriage, and certain other types of reproductive endocrine problems. We were established in 1999, and I am the physician in charge of the practice—I’m a board certified reproductive endocrinologist with 20 years of experience. We’re in Illinois, with three locations: Chicago, Naperville, and Plainfield. We treat thousands of patients each year—most of them for infertility, but also for the other services I mentioned.

We like to pride ourselves on always staying a few steps ahead of the competition. We want to make sure we have the best possible customer service, for example, as well as our ability to implement new technology. We’re constantly innovating in order to do this, so we can always be sure we’re providing the best possible care to our patients, and the best, most advanced medical care available today.

One of those innovations is in our consent form process. As I mentioned above, we offer many different types of treatments, and all of them require filling out consent forms. That used to entail bringing the patient into the office, having them read through consent form, and answering questions, sign it. And since our medicine involves fertility treatments, we often need both partners, with their various schedules, to make a trip to our office together.

Now, that worked fine in the past, but it was also very time consuming for myself and the staff. Not to mention inconvenient for the patients, who might not even live in the area, and would have had to make a special trip to do that. It was this problem that led us to RightSignature.

As for what led me to this line of work, well, it happened pretty organically. After testing out different fields in Medical school, I ended up subspecializing in high-risk obstetrics and reproductive endocrinology. I enjoyed the opportunity to use advanced technology, the constant innovation in the field, and the variety—in reproductive medicine, I can do a little bit of surgery, some consultation, and some intellectual review as well. Finally, I just enjoyed working with the patient population in reproductive medicine—often young families, and people looking to start families.

What is one thing all people should know about In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) medicine?

RS: The main thing people should know is that infertility is much more common than people realize. 1 in every 7 couples will have trouble achieving pregnancy. IVF treatment is not the only possibility for these couples, but it is the most successful. IVF treatment offers highest probability of pregnancy, as well as the highest probability of a successful pregnancy that’s carried to term. All told, there have now been over 5 million babies born worldwide from In-Vitro Fertilization, so it’s a very common treatment as well.

That said, there’s no right or wrong approach to reproductive medicine, and there are quite a few options, these days. Some patients start out more conservative, others more aggressive—it’s simply a matter of choice.

You said you use technology to stay a step ahead. How does RightSignature help, and which other online tools you use?

Well, like I said before, we use RightSignature as an alternative for your standard, old-style paper consent forms. We thought that was something we could easily improve to make our practice better, so we started looking to do that through the internet.

Now, you can email forms, but turns out to not be a good method. For starters, you can’t verify who is signing the document, and that verification is very important to us. When we stumbled across RightSignature, it seemed to offer everything we needed—we could upload Word documents, PDF forms, all sorts of different files, and then adapt them to RightSignature and put our necessary fields in.

RightSignature provides other things, too, besides just signing names: the ability to add checkboxes and text fields, for example. Not only that, we could put easy instructions right there on the form, and it opens up an avenue for clear communication with the signers. This is especially true for our out of town and out of country patients. They love it. With RightSignature, we can go ahead make sure all the paperwork was done correctly ahead of time. It turned out to be a perfect remedy—exactly what we were looking for.

As for other tech tools, we use PracticeHwy to create an electronic medical record for all our patients. Each patient gets a personal login into their patient portal through our website. From there, they can fill out their medical history questionnaire online, and we can go ahead and refer to that ahead of time to prepare for them, rather than pull it up in the moment in our office. The patients can also use it to see their lab results, follow treatments, and so on. This is something many practices are starting to incorporate, and we’ve been using one for several years now. It helps us out quite a bit, because we don’t have to worry about getting patients on the phone for every little thing.

What has been your practice’s biggest success, and how did you get there?

There’s a little known technique that we practice for implementing in-vitro fertilization without also using fertility medicine, which some women cannot use. This treatment is called IVM, which stands for In-Vitro Maturation, and instead of stimulating the ovaries to produce eggs, it allows these eggs to mature in-vitro instead. We didn’t invent IVM, but we were the first practice to use it in the US to get a live birth. This got us on the CBS Early Show, and we received a lot of media attention—I’d say it’s definitely the one thing that we’re most well known for.

How do you see technology impacting the medical field in the next 5 years?

We are in the midst of a revolution in our understanding of and ability to test for genetics. As you can imagine, this is especially important in reproductive medicine.

Humans are, on the whole, inefficient reproducers. When we reproduce, the majority of embryos we humans make are actually abnormal. We are supposed to have 23 pairs of chromosomes, but often you will find embryos with too many or too few, which in most cases do not implant and are rejected by the uterus. The ability to assess the normality of embryos is something that’s we in reproductive medicine have desired for a long time, because it can lead to a much higher success rate. Five years ago we had a system called FISH, which allowed us to take a look at 7 or 8 chromosomes, but a number of large studies showed that FISH wasn’t really improving our odds to help couples have a live-born babies.

Today we have microarrays instead. Microarrays are like entire little laboratories on a computer chip: they can take a cell sample and analyze it with computer algorithms to record all sorts of data. Microarrays represent a potential for a revolution in the performance of IVF because they give us the ability to look at all 23 pairs of chromosomes in a relatively short period of time. The data that is emerging right now suggests that there are many, many abnormal embryos produced in any couple’s reproductive life. By selecting for fully matching embryos, you can greatly improve the chances of implantation and pregnancy, as well as reduce miscarriage.

This has been called the second wave of genetic revolution, and it has all taken place in just the last 2 years or so.


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