Gilda is the founder and CEO of technology solutions and compliance consulting services company PQE Group.
Femtech (short for “female technology”) and women’s health are two concepts that are very close to my heart. First coined by Clue founder Ida Tin in 2016, the term femtech describes technology products, services and companies focusing on women’s unique healthcare needs and preferences.
According to some estimates, femtech is projected to reach a market value of more than $103 billion by 2030. But just how much is the femtech industry impacting women’s healthcare, and how can it contribute to addressing the long-standing challenges and disparities in this field?
Historical Perspective Of Women’s Health
In 1977, the United States Food and Drug Administration recommended excluding women of childbearing age from participating in clinical trials for most drugs. This changed in 1993, but the policy resulted in a limited understanding of women’s health issues and introduced significant knowledge gaps. For example, we know less about how conditions such as cardiovascular disease (paywall) affect women, including potential differences in diagnosis and treatment compared to men.
While there has been a steady increase in the representation of women in clinical trials, low recruitment of women still needs to be improved, with females only accounting for 29-34% of participants in industry-sponsored early-phase trials. We still have a long way to go before we achieve equal representation in medical research.
How FemTech Can Help
Despite progress, women still face persistent barriers to accessing healthcare services, such as cost, gender biases, discrimination, stigma about women’s health issues and a lack of funding. Femtech can help to solve the misrepresentation of women in medical research in several ways. These organizations can leverage their existing customer base to raise awareness and interest, thus increasing registration and participation in clinical trials. Another way that femtech can be applied is to improve the accuracy and quality of results by funding and encouraging further research into sex-specific analyses regarding conditions that affect both men and women.
Femtech can empower women to take control of their health by providing access to personalized health information and resources. In turn, technology can help women to track their symptoms over time and help them identify patterns and potential health issues so they can make more informed decisions about their healthcare.
By addressing the gender bias and disparities that exist in healthcare, femtech can also improve inclusivity by increasing awareness, accessibility and affordability of healthcare services for women, including those from marginalized communities who may face barriers to access. This can lead to better health outcomes and improved quality of life for women. Additionally, by involving women in the design and development of femtech solutions, these technologies can be tailored to meet the unique needs of diverse groups of women, promoting a more inclusive and patient-centered approach to healthcare.
Investing In Women’s Health
After years of being overlooked, femtech is helping to change that, and we’re seeing a rise in new startups. A few pioneers include:
• Clue, a popular period-tracking app founded in 2012, raised $55.5 million in funding and has paved the way for further innovation in the femtech market.
• Ava, a fertility and pregnancy tracking bracelet established in 2014, raised $42.4 million in funding.
• Maven Clinic, a virtual clinic offering continuous, holistic care for fertility, family building and other women’s and family health services, became the first U.S. unicorn in the women’s and family health sector (paywall) in 2021.
Personally, my company has set its sights on investing in women’s healthcare awareness with a focus on personalized and meaningful treatment. In the process, we’ve learned some valuable lessons that could be helpful to other investors looking to support the femtech movement, including the importance of:
• Consulting a woman. When deciding on which femtech companies to invest in, it would be valuable to hear a woman’s take. Involve female investors in the vetting process and beyond to understand the true potential and impact products and services will have on women’s lives.
• Thinking long term and considering scalability. Ask your team: What technology is used? Is it innovative? Is the business viable in the long run?
• Getting to know the team. A company’s talent is its greatest asset. Before investing in a femtech startup, get to know the team and understand each person’s background and expertise. When executed by a talented team, any good idea is bound to succeed.
Ultimately, femtech is a game-changer for women’s health. This emerging field addresses health disparities by creating solutions to help fix women’s healthcare access gaps.
Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?
Read the full article here