In recent years, venture capitalists, technology developers, and medical providers alike have begun tapping into a long-neglected demographic: women’s health. Dubbed by industry insiders as ‘FemTech,’ the growing sub-market encompasses software, diagnostic tools, wearable trackers, and additional online services that utilize digital technology to improve women’s health.
The research firm Frost & Sullivan has identified a market potential of $50 billion by 2025, noting that “female technology (FemTech) is emerging as the next big disruptor in the global healthcare market.”
While market opportunities expand, digital health leaders have the potential to radically innovate, shift, and transform female healthcare by empowering women to take ownership of their wellbeing, while also disrupting commonly held misconceptions. Here are five factors of women’s health being transformed by the emergence of femtech:
Startups such as Looncup and Clue have developed technologies aimed at equipping women with useful, practical information regarding their menstrual cycles. While menstrual technologies such as period tracking apps and “smart” menstrual cups are still in the early stages of development, they allow users to gain insight into a significant factor of health that has historically been overlooked.
In 2017, Sweden-based company Natural Cycles gained EU certification as a digital contraceptive, and later became the first FDA approved “digital birth control.” Geared towards couples, the company provides users with fertility information through a decimal basal thermometer and a data tracking app. Companies such as The Pill Club streamline an often lengthy process, as a direct-to-consumer alternative to birth control through online prescriptions and delivery. “This is just the beginning of a much broader and bigger movement,” says Nick Chang, founder, and CEO of The Pill Club.
Various technologies have been developed to help support women’s health during pregnancy. Health startups have created apps and online platforms aimed at providing women with medical insight and emotional support throughout pregnancy and post-birth, addressing the oft-neglected issue of post-partum depression.
Startups such as GliaLab utilize artificial intelligence to aid medical imaging devices in checking for breast cancer. Medical device company iBreast Exam uses heat sensors to monitor metabolic and thermal symmetry between breasts for infections or lumps. These technologies aim to alter the alarming rates of invasive breast cancer.
While women’s health is frequently considered synonymous with reproduction, a growing number of start-ups are working to address a critical, yet often neglected stage of female health care: menopause. Seattle-based startup Genneve provides comprehensive support for menopausal concerns including health assessments, access to telehealth providers trained in menopausal health, numerous innovative products to assist in the process of menopause, and a connected online community. The company is a leading force in the effort to address menopausal health.
Frost & Sullivan has identified that working-females spend “29% more per capita on healthcare compared to males in the same age group.” This spending gap highlights the significant opportunity for digital health leaders to revolutionize women’s healthcare.