FemTech is a young industry. However, it’s demand is growing. There’s the boost in demand by the growing awareness about the burden of chronic and infectious diseases by women all over the world. There’s also the growing presence of the female workforce in the healthtech domain, which is playing a critical role in developing technologically innovative healthcare solutions for women.
With a wave of high tech digital solutions for women’s health hitting the market, from wearables for menopause relief to period tracking apps, its high time we take a look at the rise of FemTech, and what the future holds for this flourishing industry.
The term itself was originally coined by Ida Tin, founder of period tracking App Clue, while attending the start-up conference Techcrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. Frustrated over the fact that while there were entire areas dedicated to groups such as FinTech and GreenTech, products that supported female health were dispersed around the exhibition hall, Tin says,
“I knew immediately that for these products to be taken seriously, the market needed to be defined, so I suggested that we should begin to call ourselves a FemTech company.”
Consequently, the term ‘FemTech’ – short for female technology – was born, with FemTech definitively referring to software, diagnostics, products and services that use technology to cater to the needs of women’s health. The sector is concerned with addressing the whole lived experience of women, and FemTech innovations usually fall into the following categories:
- Menstruation & Period Care Products
- Fertility & Birth Control
- Chronic Conditions & Hormonal Disorders
- Pelvic Health
- Pregnancy & Post Pregnancy
- Breast Feeding
- Sexual Wellness
- General HealthCare
The Value of Defining FemTech
Ruth Shaber, founder of Tara Health Foundation and Co-Founder of Board Chair of Rhia Ventures, discussed the importance of defining FemTech as separate from any other part of healthcare technology in a recent interview with Mobile ODT.
Shaber determines, “in absolute terms, FemTech, or women’s health in general, shouldn’t be seen as separate from any other part of healthcare. But the reality is, there exists a significant lack in attention given to women’s health. Women have greater disease burden, yet women’s health remains an underfunded space. Women’s health hasn’t seen anything like the type of investment as oncology or infectious disease”
Ultimately, women’s health needs to be ‘singled out’ to ensure that it is given the necessary attention.
How Big Is The Market?
As of today, FemTech accounts for over 200 start-ups globally – many of which are founded and led by women. Pitchbook estimates that in 2019, the global FemTech market generated $820.6 million, and estimations have also been made that $200 billion has been spent on FemTech each year. Funding in the sector also continues to increase. According to a Rock Health report, FemTech funding rose as much as 812% from 2014-2018. For a comparatively young industry, it certainly has a fast-paced trajectory for growth.
However, when you consider the size of the FemTech sector in relation to HealthTech, it becomes minute in comparison. Despite its growing popularity, FemTech still remains a significantly underdeveloped area of HealthTech, with only 4% of all healthcare research and development being targeted specifically at women’s health. As well as this, only 2% of publicly funded research in the UK is dedicated solely to reproductive health, yet data indicates that almost 1/3 of British women will suffer from reproductive or gynaecological health problems during their lifetime.
Although unfortunate that FemTech remains underfunded when you look at the big picture, what this difference ultimately shows is that there is so much space still available for FemTech to evolve. With an emerging recognition that there are many needs that still need addressing in women’s health, there are numerous opportunities yet to be seized which will sustain the rise of the industry.
The Benefits Of FemTech
For women, the benefits of FemTech are countless – with the sectors goal being to give women more control over their health, their happiness and their futures. As well as this seemingly clear function of the industry, there are multiple other benefits that FemTech brings, such as the following three:
It can help advance scientific knowledge:
Apps such as Clue, Natural Cycles and Ovia Health are informative not just for their users, but also for a greater scientific understanding of women’s bodies. It’s much faster and easier for companies to analyse data that their users are already providing than it is to approve, carry out and publish health studies.
It is destigmatising menstrual and sexual health:
In creating technology that improves women’s reproductive sexual health, FemTech is bringing ‘taboo’ and widely undiscussed topics to the table, pushing for conversations to be had in these areas and giving them the attention they deserve.
It helps health problems get diagnosed and treated faster:
By helping women understand their own bodies better, as well as adding to general scientific knowledge, FemTech can ultimately help those suffering from medical conditions get diagnosed and treated faster. Endometriosis, for example, takes on average 10 years to diagnose. But if a women has been tracking her period symptoms with a FemTech app, it may be able to warn her that her periods are abnormal and that she should see a doctor to discuss this. From here, symptoms of the experience can be reported more accurately and a diagnosis and treatment can be quickly provided.
The Future Of FemTech
The female technology industry is growing rapidly and its effects on the HealthTech market in general are set to be tremendous. The quick growth of the sector is leading to a surge in investments, with estimations being that FemTech will receive investments of more than $9 billion by 2024. A report by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan even stated than within the next 5 years, FemTech will reach $50 billion in value.
FemTech is an amazing example of how the world is adapting to work better for women. With businesses finally being built to solve problems in women’s health that have historically been overlooked, an understanding and open-mindedness to women’s health is being adopted. To put it simply: this is just the beginning for female health technology.
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