Frida's Origin Story
This week marks Frida’s first birthday. It’s hard to believe that we are only one year young, and yet, already a full year old.
To you, the people who have found us, we are very grateful. Some of you have engaged with us online, others have shared Frida’s services with friends or family, and others have come in to become our patients. Whether you are here for more information, for curiosity, for someone in your life, or to seek help, you have helped shape this company into what it is today. Thank you.
We created Frida for people like you, people like us, and we are grateful to have you all in our community.
To understand Frida and how Frida got started, we only need to look as far as the founders who created Frida. From the very beginning, Frida began through the close bonds of friendship of three individuals and their families. Dr. Husein Moloo, Amaan Banwait, and Pete MacLeod. Three people who in some ways couldn't be more different: a doctor who was seeing the challenges of underserved populations in the field, an investment banker drawn to meaningful work, and a management consultant focused on international development. And yet, their differences became their strengths as they began to discuss what Dr. Moloo was seeing in the field.
When I spoke to Pete, he recalled that “Husein was working in healthcare at the time and wanted to build a telehealth company to serve patients from underserved communities. He wanted to help those in remote, rural areas.”
From there was born the origin of what would later become PurposeMed, the parent company behind Frida.
Together, they built a prototype and process for the telehealth company that aimed to support Indigenous communities in rural areas. COVID would later derail their plans, but undeterred, they would engage Dr. Caley Shukalek (who would later become their Chief Medical Officer) to work with them to create the high quality patient program to support the first brand they launched, Freddie, which supported HIV prevention through PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis).
As Freddie took off and positive patient impact stories rolled in, the friends looked to another area close to their hearts: ADHD in adults. Both Dr. Moloo and Dr. Shukalek had first-hand lived experience with ADHD and knew the impact ADHD had on their lives, as well as the stigma that existed for this community of people. In particular, COVID had also magnified many of the challenges those with ADHD faced, because of the change in routines and isolation.
They also understood all too well the difficulty many Canadians had in accessing diagnosis and support for their ADHD, because of the shortage of doctors and psychiatrists in Canada. Many options for ADHD meant either waiting at least a year for the first appointment, often as long as 18 months. Private clinics were available, but diagnosis costs were usually in the $2000-$2500 range. In BC, the province is so overwhelmed that they stopped taking patients on the waitlist.
They felt they could use the technological solution they had built to find efficiencies to save patients wait time, appointment time, and hopefully, money. The standard practice was multiple in-depth medical questionnaires over many in person visits to complete the assessment for ADHD. This tended to translate into high costs, as well as long wait times to get in.
On February 1st, 2022, Frida was born.
As a new company, they decided to launch the company offering free diagnostic assessments. They ate the costs. They wanted to start helping as many people as possible, and decided they could figure out the financial model to sustain their company later on. The program launched was focused on patient safety in making sure that they didn’t take on too much with a virtual program - knowing that for more complex cases, individuals would likely benefit the most through the support of an in-person clinician.
2/3 of Frida patients report a significant improvement in ADHD symptoms within 6 weeks, 80% of Frida patients report a significant increase in hopefulness and feelings of self-worth after 6 weeks, and 1/2 of Frida patients pay $0 for their ADHD medications.
Now, one year later, I asked these three friends: “why do you do what you do?”
The answer: “We want to wake up every morning feeling good and knowing that we are having a positive impact on people’s lives - regardless of their situation. If we can offer a medical solution and help people take care of themselves and their ADHD, then it’s worth it.”
“We want to have an impact through Frida. We know that there are around 1.3 million adult Canadians with ADHD. It would be amazing if we could help them, especially those who have gone undiagnosed. Through Frida, we hope people can wake up every morning and feel better. If you can wake up every day feeling good about yourself and that you understand your condition and you’re being supported through a treatment that is appropriate for you... that’s the impact we want to have.”