New Telehealth Platform Allara Provides Online, Personalized Care for PCOS

Headshot of Allara founder, Rachel Blank, on a dark background

Courtesy of Allara

Key Takeaways

  • Allara is a new telehealth service that virtually connects healthcare professionals and people with PCOS. 
  • PCOS cannot be cured, but with collaborative solutions from across many different healthcare fields, it can be managed. 
  • Telehealth platforms are making it easier than ever for people to get in touch with doctors to get prescriptions, discuss non-severe symptoms, and more. 
  • Telehealth may be changing the way we utilize healthcare, but barriers like cost and internet access impair its reach.

We are all our own best advocates when it comes to taking care of our health. But, between tracking down doctors, doing research, and making connections between different symptoms and treatment plans, doing what’s best for our bodies can be a challenge. 

After Rachel Blank was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) about 10 years ago, she found herself getting frustrated as she scoured the internet and social media for answers on how to best manage her chronic condition. With her background in telehealth and healthcare technology platforms, she figured she could create a better solution for herself and other women with PCOS. 

"If you’re a woman dealing with a chronic condition—something like PCOS or endometriosis—there’s really nowhere for you to go right now," Blank, founder and CEO of the new women’s telehealth company Allara, tells Verywell. "Allara was really built to be the specialty care platform that can help women manage these conditions all virtually, and we’re starting specifically with a chronic treatment program for PCOS." 

There is no cure for PCOS, and symptoms can manifest in a number of different ways, including everything from irregular periods and weight gain to acne and excess hair growth. Women with PCOS are also at elevated risks for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and depression and anxiety. But, through medications and changes to diet and exercise habits, PCOS symptoms can be managed.

Using Virtual Collaboration to Help People with PCOS

Allara launched its online telehealth platform on June 9, 2021 and already has a waitlist of over 5,000 women interested in starting a membership plan, Blank says.

The service matches women with PCOS with healthcare providers and registered dietitians to come up with a personalized plan to help manage symptoms. Providers and patients stay on the same page with unlimited text messaging check-ins and frequent video calls. Patients will work with the same dietitians and doctors every time so they feel comfortable building personal relationships.

Blank says that this kind of collaborative process is exactly what’s been missing from traditional health care in recent years. 

"You might be seeing your dermatologist, your gynecologist, and ideally you’d be seeing a nutritionist, but because the healthcare system especially is so siloed, it can be hard to put it all together and understand the root cause of what’s going on," Blank says. "Especially if you’re a woman seeing all these different providers for all these different needs, those providers aren’t talking to each other and you might not actually get an accurate diagnosis of what’s going on."

That’s part of the reason why even though PCOS affects about 5 million women in the U.S., it can sometimes take years to get a diagnosis or helpful management plan, Blank says. Meeting with collaborative professionals can be a way for women to feel supported and find treatments that work. 

It also makes access to women’s health specialists more convenient, Heather Huddleston, MD, a member of Allara’s medical leadership team and director of the UCSF PCOS clinic and research program, tells Verywell. 

"There's not a lot of specialists or care providers that necessarily understand PCOS or have spent a lot of time thinking about the best ways to approach it," Huddleston says. "The vision of Allara to do that in a way that could reach a lot more people throughout the country, maybe in areas that are less well served by these types of providers—I thought that that was really exciting." 

Allara and the Growing World of Telehealth

Though telehealth has been around for decades, advancements in technology and the COVID-19 pandemic have made going to the doctor virtually all the more appealing. In many cases, it can save patients and doctors time and unnecessary risk, and can be a great substitute for or supplement to traditional in-person care. 

There are essentially two different kinds of telehealth, Blank explains. The first makes primary care more accessible and meets basic health needs. There are platforms like Amwell, Teladoc, or Doctor on Demand that allow patients to get in touch virtually with licensed healthcare professionals in their state and address things like pain management, mental health concerns, lab results, and more. Rory, a health company that Blank also co-founded before creating Allara, and many others like it specialize in shipping prescription drugs right to people’s front doors after meeting with doctors online. 

Blank sees Allara as a second iteration of telehealth, where access to doctors online doesn’t just make things less of a hassle, but actually creates the opportunity for more personalized, around-the-clock specialty care—something that’s really useful for people dealing with chronic conditions like PCOS. 

"Especially after COVID, we realized how much more we can use telehealth than we ever imagined," Blank says. "And so now it’s not just about, how do we make health care more convenient, but how do we actually use technology to deliver better health care?"

Allara’s telehealth visits with dieticians and healthcare professionals will be a supplement to in-person doctor visits, not a replacement, Blank says. Some aspects of PCOS treatment can’t be done virtually. 

"We will never be doing pap smears virtually, and will also not be doing, like, IVF virtually," Blank says. "So, longer term, I really view this as more of a partnership with traditional health care where a woman is seeing her traditional OBGYN once a year and working with us in between."

The extent to which telehealth will replace or supplement traditional in-person care going forward all depends on how successful and comprehensive virtual care can be, Huddleston says. 

"At the end of the day, I think we'll be looking to patients to tell us how acceptable it is for them. Our role as providers is to deliver care in the best way for patients," Huddleston says. "If this works for patients, if they feel like they're getting their needs met through these platforms or through these mechanisms of telehealth, and if we as providers feel that we are delivering the most appropriate care and that patients are making the changes we want them to, or being compliant with their medications—if all of those outcomes are achieving success then I think that this way will continue."

Accessibility and the Future

Even though telehealth, at its core, is meant to make healthcare more accessible and convenient for those that need it, there are still some barriers. Telehealth requires some sort of electronic device, good internet access, and a private space for having confidential conversations with doctors—luxuries that not every American has available to them.

Right now, Allara’s services aren’t available to everyone, either. Memberships start at $100 a month, and though Allara partners with insurance companies to get lab work and prescriptions covered, at this time health insurance won’t cover memberships. Allara is also only currently available in eight states.

Blank says Allara is expanding accessibility as soon as possible, hopefully launching in a dozen other states by the end of the year, and working with insurance providers to cover some costs in the future. 

Blank wants Allara to eventually become a hub for all kinds of women’s chronic reproductive conditions, not just PCOS. She hopes to provide personalized virtual care for women that are often failing to find adequate answers within the confines of traditional health care. 

"For us, it's how do we become the virtual care platform for all women's complex care needs, whether that is PCOS, endometriosis, uterine fibroids—things that affect women due to their reproductive care needs on a chronic basis?" Blank says. "We want to be that partner for all women."

What This Means For You

Telehealth sites like Rachel Blank’s new PCOS management platform Allara can help you receive personalized, online care. Barriers to telehealth still exist, but meeting with a team of healthcare professionals virtually can give you more collaborative, comprehensive treatment options that are always conveniently available.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and diabetes.

  2. Board on Health Care Services; Institute of Medicine. The Role of Telehealth in an Evolving Health Care Environment: Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US). The Evolution of Telehealth: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?

  3. What is telehealth?

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Using telehealth to expand access to essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic - potential limitations of telehealth.

By Julia Landwehr
Julia is a health editorial intern with Verywell Health.