• Rajeshwari Channakrishna

Consumer centric products mark the future in FemTech digital health market

Matthew Walls, chairman of Concepta Diagnostics, explores the way in which new technologies have acted as a tool to empower women, and looks ahead to the future of femtech.

There was a time when women’s health was discussed privately. The fate of reproductive health was mostly in the hands of a gynaecologists. Many matters remained un-discussed and so were many challenges clouded with mysteries and myths. Thankfully, now things are changing with digital connectivity, online resources are leading to awareness and de-stigmatizing. Women are finally getting to connect with communities and discuss issues related to their bodies and take control of their reproductive health. As more women have become “independent”, this welcome change is yet another empowering tool for a woman to take control of her life.

While people are digitally depending on apps and connected devices with technology leaping into IoT and AI. On the other hand, this is paving way for women to be self-reliant and discrete. Plus, the rise in awareness of various conditions on day-to-day life is making the world more gender sensitive. Holistically, this technology revelation is bringing better understanding of challenges that were unnoticed only a few years back.

From Maven’s virtual health clinics for women, a number of period trackers, connected breast pumps to fertility tracker and now menopause management apps, there is a steady momentum gathering around technology in women’s health market. FemTech has become a common buzz word to describe technology innovation to help manage women’s health. Thanks to the launch of first ever FDA approved digital fertility app (Natural Cycle), women’s reproductive health has taken a center stage garnering attention from investors across the globe.

Going by the recent trends, start-ups focusing on women’s reproductive health are on the rise and are drawing VC’s attention to innovations in this area. According to a study conducted by Frost and Sallivan, women’s health market is estimated to be worth over $50B by 2025 out of which global fertility service market alone is set to reach $30B by 2023 as told by Allied Market Research. This data is further supported by the World Bank report stating fertility rates in many parts of the world including the US, UK and Japan have continued to drop since the 1960s. No wonder then, according to PitchBook, Femtech has attracted at least $241 million in VC funding in 2017, as compared to $62 million in 2012 and the numbers are shown rising since.

The New York Times last year stated that women struggling to get pregnant turn to Fertility Apps. In addition, the average age of a woman choosing to get pregnant with her first child has increased. As a result, with biological clock ticking, better information on reproductive health is imperative any time. Also, for most women, natural conception is the key motivator as compared to IVF. Which means, they prefer specific products that determine their chances of pregnancy and track their hormonal health all along leading to natural conception.

While there is a plethora of choices available for new solutions, the future is clearly inching towards tailor made, user centric solutions based on individual data as opposed to average available data. When it comes to reproductive health, many factors come into play including individual health, genes makeup, age etc., Clearly what works for women at a personal level cannot be defined by data secured by the average median that many femtech apps are based on. Plus, generic statistics also don´t provide enough details or exact figures to build up a true picture of a female reproductive system.

Future is tailor made

The women’s health space is seen moving towards Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) solutions while new technologies like AI and IoT are being explored to further innovate. Solutions based on hormone level detectors are currently on rise which enable consumers to determine their own personal course of reproductive process which include, ideal time frame for pregnancy, ideal dates of ovulation, the ovarian reserve and estimated time to hit menopause. Concepta’s myLotus, for example, is the only fertility monitor driven by personal user centric data. The user can track their LH levels present in their urine and the rate-of-change can be measured in the accompanying MyLotus app. What differentiates this from other apps measuring fertility hormones is that the data is user centric and is not based on a generic threshold range of an average woman.

An opportunity to reign

Interestingly, more female entrepreneurs are inventing products for women such as Elina Berglund, who is the founder and developer of the app “Natural cycles” or Tania Boler, CEO of Elvie, who has developed a pelvic floor Kegel tracker connected with an app to help women improve their pelvic floor with real-time body feedback. This reinstates the fact that women are in a better position to understand challenges associated women’s body and women entrepreneurs see this as an area to conquer.

* This article was originally published in DHIT.*

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