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Freelance writer for Contemporary OB/GYN
Digital transformation of the women’s health market is rapidly occurring through FemTech (female technology).
The term FemTech was coined by Danish entrepreneur Ida Tin, the co-founder and CEO of the female health app, Clue.
“The whole concept of FemTech can positively impact women’s health and well-being because it is not limited to a product or a service, but is rather an end-to-end solution,” said Paljit Sohal, a principal consultant at Frost & Sullivan, which is tracking the lucrative market from a research perspective. “Women’s healthcare issues are coming to the forefront with an increased focus to differentiate care provided for the healthcare issues specific to women, which no longer fit into the frameworks of men’s health.”
Sohal told Contemporary OB/GYN there is a need for inclusion of women in clinical research and trials, product development, and targeted marketing. “It will be exciting to see new applications for reproductive, maternal and general women’s health and wellness, including mental health issues, elderly care, and chronic diseases and communicable diseases,” she said.
Nearly 50 FemTech companies combined have received in excess of $1 billion in funding since 2014 and are offering interactive digital health applications for women’s health, according to Sohal. “However, major healthcare companies have only started to see the benefits of integrating FemTech into their strategy,” she said.
For example, Zimmer Biomet is scheduled to market its Gender Solutions high-flex knee, which is the first knee replacement designed specifically to fit a woman’s anatomy. Similarly, Cook Group has announced the launch of its women’s health business unit, which will address some of the most prevalent issues in women’s health globally, including infertility, chronic pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, and incontinence.
“There is also an unmet need for accessing healthcare at affordable rates in developing markets,” Sohal said.
For instance, CareMotherfrom India-based CareNX Innovations helps detect high-risk pregnancies in early stages through mobile monitoring tools like a health information management system. Likewise, GE Healthcare’s Vscanwith dual probe is a pocket-sized portable
ultrasound machine that enables women to better manage their pregnancy.
FemTech can benefit ob/gyn practices because fertility, pregnancy care, and maternal care are major areas of concern-especially for women opting for later pregnancies or at higher risk of complications. “We see various solutions already making a positive impact, such as Minerva’s endometrial ablation system for the treatment of abnormal uterine bleeding,” Sohal said.
A mobile colposcope that uses a smart phone for cervical cancer screening received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration in 2016.
Sohal said use of digital technology will help motivate patients to access and use applications for managing women’s health issues. “Women patients are playing an active role in their care delivery and are beginning to invest in their own care,” she said. “These technologies encourage patient self-management and continued engagement to manage women’s health issues. Digital technology adds value.”
The ability of women to set their own self-management or self-care goals, especially for wellness and reproductive health, “will positively benefit patients,” Sohal said.
Sohal anticipates that the rise of FemTech will promote collaboration between device, healthcare IT, and pharmaceutical companies. “A network approach will be required, though, and companies will need to continually seek new partnerships, as well as innovative business models to keep abreast of changing dynamics in the industry,” she said.
It is also critical for healthcare companies to either consider the acquisition of FemTech applications or partner with specialized FemTech companies or build their own portfolios, according to Sohal. “The end goal is to formulate a marketing strategy exclusively for FemTech,” she said. “The companies that recognize this need early on will have the first mover advantage.”