28 Sep 2022 New Surrogate Matching Technology Aims to Increase Access, Lower Costs
NODAL.com, an online platform launched last week, is a new high-tech solution designed to make the surrogacy matching process more accessible and more affordable for surrogates and intended parents.
To use the new platform, intended parents will pay monthly membership fees and create online profiles. Using Nodal’s proprietary screening technology, surrogates who are part of the Nodal network will be prompted to browse intended parent profiles and select intended parents based on each party’s preferences. Nodal states that all participants will undergo extensive screenings that include background checks and live interviews. The portal also offers information and educational resources for surrogates and intended parents.
Surrogacy’s Popularity Means Pent-up Demand, Rising Costs
As we’ve reported, growing societal support for alternative family-building methods and the recent popularity of assisted reproductive technologies, such as egg freezing for future fertility preservation, have resulted in sky-high demand for fertility services, including IVF and surrogacy. The boom in demand has resulted in egg and sperm donor shortages (worsened by pandemic lockdowns), surrogate shortages (as The New York Times reported in April 2022), and long waits for many intended parents. Meanwhile, even as technologies have advanced and outcomes improved, costs of medical procedures and related surrogacy expenses have skyrocketed.
“For many people, surrogacy is the best and only option for starting or growing a family,” said Dr. Brian Levine, Nodal founder and CEO, who has specialized in IVF for more than a decade. However, some prospective surrogates and intended parents find the process cost-prohibitive and difficult to navigate. “That’s what we’re working to change. Our goal is to make surrogacy an attainable option for more intended parents and to give surrogates an exceptional experience with education, support and empowerment along the way.”
Once matched through Nodal, surrogates and intended parents can then choose to engage an agency or attorney(s) to help manage the match from that point forward or elect to manage it themselves. In any case, surrogates and intended parents should be sure to consult with attorneys early on as they navigate this process to ensure they proceed with their matches in compliance with applicable laws and do not fail to meet any legal requirements in their journeys.
Technological Advances Lower Surrogacy Costs, Improve Access
Thanks to technological innovations, IVF and surrogacy outcomes have vastly improved in the past 20 years. Along the way, governments, corporations, and insurers have responded to the growing public demand for assisted reproductive services. Several states now require qualifying employers to offer reproductive health coverage, and major corporations offer coverage for fertility preservation procedures as a recruitment and/or retention perk. Such advancements have increased access to fertility services for many intended parents.
Just as artificial intelligence and nanotechnology have improved the processes of gamete selection and IVF, technologies such as those used to develop and run the Nodal platform have evolved in response to popular demand. Understandably, many technologies that exist in this field were designed to create efficiencies and hopefully lower (some) costs. As long as best practices and ethical standards are part of its foundation, Nodal can offer surrogates and intended parents yet another alternative to the existing robust network of established surrogacy agencies and third-party matching services, and even work in conjunction with such providers to bring surrogates and intended parents the best of both worlds. In the long run, our best hope is that this new platform and all the innovations yet to come will result in more people who are able to become parents through the miracle of assisted reproduction technology.