A wave of tech enabled digital solutions dedicated to women’s health and classified as femtech, are entering the market, from pre and post pregnancy tracking apps and wireless breast pumps, to wearables for menopause relief. With 90% of primary health care decisions for the family made by women, we wanted to take this opportunity to take a closer look at the rising trends in femtech and the immense impact this is already having on women.
The gender health gap continues to be significant. Less than 2.5% of publicly funded research in the UK is dedicated solely to reproductive health despite the data suggesting that almost a third of British women suffer from reproductive or gynecological health problems. What is interesting is that this research is often subject to gender bias. There are five fold more studies about erectile dysfunction, which affects only 19% of men than premenstrual syndrome, which affects 90% of women.
Femtech, expected to be a $50bn industry by 2025 (1), has become a widely popular term that defines innovations designed to support, improve and promote women’s health and wellness, an area that has been neglected in the past. The term femtech, coined by Ida Tin (founder of menstruation app Clue), has helped these innovations find their rightful place in a complex ecosystem and has mainstreamed conversations about women’s health.
The femtech sphere has seen an explosion of innovative solutions to women’s health problems with more than 200 startups worldwide and over 3000 app based women’s health products. These startups address key women’s health issues such as reproductive health, fertility solutions, surrogacy, pre and postnatal care, nursing care, nutrition and mental health. Femtech received $800 million in venture funding in 2019 and is expected to cross the billion mark in 2020. Countries have experienced different rates of innovation and adoption based on differing needs and levels of awareness amongst women. While the US is clearly in the lead, innovations are taking place globally with notable ones such as Nirmai, low cost, accurate solution for early breast cancer detection in India; LactApp, breastfeeding app in Spain; and Ava, developer of multi sensor fertility bracelet in Switzerland. Focus on a customer centric model versus a product centric one coupled with educating women about these solutions has been key to gaining customers. While Femtech companies have gained traction with consumers they have started gaining traction with employers and insurers too.
Many of these companies are led by female founders who have been influenced by their personal journeys. Take Adia Health, for instance, founded by Lina Chan. We recently spoke to her to learn about her UK based femtech startup aimed at creating a trusted community for women and women’s health experts to enable access to proactive and personalized care for fertility. Her startup idea was triggered by her own personal fertility issues and her need to share her knowledge with women around the world facing the same issues.
The industry is opening up the traditionally male-dominated health tech market to female entrepreneurs and professionals with a background in health sciences. While most solutions to date have focussed on women’s reproductive health, the industry is evolving beyond women’s reproductive health to broader health issues, such as heart diseases, pain management, diabetes, weight gain and behavioural health, that impact women differently. We spoke with Kim Page, founder of Isoshealth — a digital marketplace which brings together nutrition, physical and mental health specialists in the UK, who says, “Women have been targeted with fad diets and fake health information for years. I wanted to build a place where qualified health experts could reach women and cut through all that noise”. Most of Isoshealth’s clients are women and seventy percent of the practitioners on the platform are women.
Femtech addresses the needs of roughly half of the world’s population and, with time, it will no doubt fulfill the huge economic potential that exists. The time is right because of the confluence of increased women’s awareness and maturation and reach of digital technologies.
(1) (Frost & Sullivan 2018)