Biem App

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biem app logo

Biem (pronounced "beem") is a free smartphone app, available on both iOS and Android devices, that aims to make it easier for app users to seek and receive treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)[1]. By making it easier to attain treatment for STDs, the app aims to encourage users to maintain their sexual health, while at the same time dismantle the stigma surrounding getting checked for STDs. Currently, the app is available for users in New York City, and is partnered with healthcare providers in this area, as well as local laboratories. The app allows users to video chat with one of these healthcare providers, order lab tests either to the users house, through a local lab or one of Biem's partnered labs, and finally review their lab results over the app. The app also allows users to anonymously share their results with previous sexual partners partners [1].


One of Biem's co-founders, Bryan Stacy, developed the idea for the app after receiving a double-diagnosis of testicular cancer and chlamydia. Stacey says he ignored his symptoms for three months before finally getting checked by a doctor at the request of his friend[2]. Upon visiting an doctor, he was admitted for surgery to operate on what would be stage 1 cancer. During his period of remission, he began blogging. Through blogging about his experience with testicular cancer and chlamydia, he began getting responses from others, often asking him questions about his chlamydia diagnosis[2]. After speaking to hundreds of people and reflecting on his own STI experience, he began thinking about what stops people from seeking treatment for symptoms.

Based on his conversations, Stacy identified common reasons people hesitate to seek medical attention for STIs are due to practical and emotional barriers[3]. Practical barriers to seeking help lie in having to set up an appointment, possibly miss work or school to make this appointment, and physically getting to the doctor's office. Emotional barriers lie in awkwardness in speaking about symptoms with a doctor, fear receiving a positive diagnosis, and the social stigma that goes along with such[3].

Stacy wanted to empower people to take control of their sexual health. He partnered with Colombia University Psychiatric expert Natalie Brito and ER physician, internist, and healthcare administrator Dr. John Rimmer, who serves as Biem's Chief Medical Officer, to create the startup[3]. Together, they developed Biem as a healthcare tool that stands "at the intersection of of sexual health, dating, education, and social," as described by Stacy in a phone interview with [4]

Currently, the app serves users in New York City as a Series A Round startup. [5] Creators hope to expand the app nationally into over 10 major cities in 2018. [3]

Screening process

Upon downloading the app, users are prompted with a series of basic questions that they would be asked at a doctors office. Next, they can choose to schedule a video visit with one of the sexual healthcare providers partnered with biem. The virtual visit costs around $45, a price point that matches most average copays of doctor visits. [1] After the virtual visit, users can order lab test to either be sent to their door or a visit a nearby laboratory. For at home tests, biem will send a lab technician to properly collect the samples in the user's home for a $45 charge.

how biem works

After sending in samples, users will have their samples checked by a certified lab partnered with biem. Lab results will be posted on the app Lab fees for testing and reporting vary based on insurance coverage [1]. Users can use the biem connect feature to share their results with a partner, which will send their partner a notification via the app. Both users must have the app downloaded on their smartphone in order to receive notifications from other users [1].

Privacy and healthcare compliance

Biem adheres to multiple privacy policies ensuring the secure transmission of health information. Health information is stored in HIPAA-compliant, HITRUST-CSF Certified Cloud storage [3]. All lab diagnostics are FDA and CLIA certified [5].


Although the app has a strong foundation in New York City, it does not have as many partnered healthcare facilities, insurance coverage, or laboratories outside of the city. [3] Telemedicine laws act as a current constraint for allowing insurance to cover lab or doctor fees over the app in different states [5].

Currently, the only way to anonymously notify a partner with returned lab results is to send a message over the app, but the partner must also have the app downloaded in order for the message to be received. In the future, the founders look to partner with dating apps to foster a greater sense of communication about sexual health. [5]

Ethical Concerns

Apps such as Biem have a lot of ethical concerns that must be addressed. Apps that provide healthcare services are a very new field therefore there is a lot of gray area revolving around them. One of the main concerns that Biem brings about is that users are not receiving in person oversight from a professional medical provider, but instead they are receiving oversight through a digital platform. This leads to a significant lack in regulation. There are concerns with the safety and accountability due to the lack of regulation. An issue that has become prominent is that when people use traditional medical services, there are clear obligations to serve the client to the best of the provider’s ability. But when all of this is being done through an app, the accountability of the medical provider is not as clear or as strong [6].
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4, webpage, 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 Fisher, C., & Hutchinson, K. (2018, January 12). You got Chlamydia and cancer in the same day? Guys we F****d. Podcast retrieved from:
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Burns, J. (2017, June 9). Virtual Sexual Health Clinic 'Biem' Is Taking The Stigma (And Hassle) Out Of Getting Tested. retrieved from
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Biggs, J. (2017, June 6). Biem is the first virtual sexual health service. Tech Crunch. retrieved from
  6. Martinez-Martin, N. (2018, Apr 23). Ethical Issues for Direct-to-Consumer Digital Psychotherapy Apps: Addressing Accountability, Data Protection, and Consent.