We had the opportunity to attend the FemTech Forum where the latest innovations and technologies being applied in women’s health were showcased. The forum was a fascinating event where everything from sexual wellness apps to cannabidiol infused tampons were discussed, and we wanted to take the opportunity to share our take on some of the key themes from the event:
1. The balancing act of trust, privacy, and innovation in FemTech
In a world where practically, everything is digitalised and tech-enabled, protecting data from cyber breaches is priority number one, particularly when considering the sensitivities of health data. When women upload information about their fertility or sexual habits on an app or engage with an online bot, they want to know that this data will be kept safe and private.
Maintaining transparency is key and women should be made aware of how their data will be used and what will happen to it over time. Privacy should be at the centre of the design of new technologies and can be used as an important differentiator from other competitor products.
2. Bridging the ‘data gap’ in female healthcare
There is a significant data gap in women’s healthcare when compared to men. It wasn’t until 1994 that the National Institutes of Health mandated the inclusion of women in clinical trials. As a result, there are shortcomings in our knowledge of how women are affected by certain medications, resulting in an increased risk of drug related adverse events (AEs) in women.
A one-size-fits-all approach, where products are often built around male-driven data, is now being left behind. The FemTech industry is striving to develop health apps which leverage digital diagnostics to bridge the data gap, creating a ‘full story’ of female health.
3. Investing in FemTech: Challenges and opportunities
FemTech can be viewed by some as a ‘niche market’, making it a challenge to raise funds for new products that target women’s health. FemTech may be an emerging sector, but the market is there: over 50% of the population! Recently, with the rise of campaigns such as body positivity, menstrual realness and #MeToo, investors are starting to recognise FemTechs value – estimated to be worth $50 billion by 2025.
Despite venture capitalists backing more and more start-ups in the women’s health space, still less than 3% of funds go to female-led start-ups. More female leaders are needed as they truly understand the needs of women and a significant gender pay gap still exists in tech. There is still some way to go when investors still cringe upon hearing the word ‘vagina’ and Facebook’s algorithms ban ads that allude to a woman’s anatomy, but with openness and communication steady progress is being made.
At Clark Health Communications we have extensive experience of supporting our clients with communications challenges in women’s health. If you’d like to find out more, please contact us at [email protected] or call +44 (0) 7545 120910.