Wearable breast pumps, portable ultrasound machines and more FemTech contraptions are making healthcare more favorable for women. To that we say: it’s about time!
Women’s needs have been largely neglected for years. They get fewer job opportunities, excessive household work, subpar pay and little healthcare attention. Well, no more. The rise of FemTech startups (largely women-run) is changing the healthcare landscape for women. As per a report by CBInsights, FemTech will be worth US$50 billion by 2025. So, what is FemTech, and how can you get started?
What is FemTech?
FemTech refers to technology—products, services, apps and devices—that caters to women’s health. There are over 200 FemTech startups globally. They focus on a range of issues, from menstruation and pregnancy to infant care, sexual health and more.
For instance, virtual care company Babyscripts focuses on automating prenatal care. Recently, it raised US$12 million. The brand will use the money to augment its roll-out of a virtual maternity care platform. Babyscripts helps women keep tabs on their health needs by monitoring their blood pressure, blood sugar and more. It also helps identify any potential health-related issues, such as blood pressure complications and preeclampsia, in advance. This way, pregnant women don’t need to take frequent trips to the doctor, and physicians can focus on high-risk patients.
Period trackers are another commonly used FemTech tool. They use machine learning to track one’s periods, predict their next cycle and notify the users of expected hormonal changes. There are also bracelets that track fertility, and wearable breast pumps that track milk production in real time.
FemTech startup Evvy launched an at-home test kit for vaginal microbiome. It uses metagenomic sequencing to evaluate your vaginal health and look for infections and the causes behind them. Using this technology, you can stay on top of your vaginal health without needing to browse Quora or WikiHow!
What are the challenges that FemTech companies face?
For one, the various myths surrounding female health and hygiene deter people from buying FemTech products. Women’s health concerns have been underrepresented, largely thanks to the hush-hush sentiment that accompanies them. In school, girls are forced to speak under their breath if they want to discuss periods. Growing up, the idea that female health is a secret of national importance becomes entrenched in them. Such a mindset is among the primary barriers for FemTech companies.
Another challenge is underfunding. As of now, a mere 1.4% of capital dedicated to healthcare globally goes to FemTech companies. That could have something to do with the fact that 90% of investment decision-makers are male. Males struggle to thoroughly understand female health concerns and end up underestimating them.
What about the pink tax?
Pink tax refers to discriminatory pricing strategies that companies deployed on feminine products. Often, they place a heftier price tag on products designed for women than that for men. We all know feminine products are infamous for bearing the pink tax. So, who is to say that these FemTech products won’t come at a price–or even an exorbitant one?
Some companies might levy the pink tax to boost sales and beat competition. Some, even though reluctantly, might do so to appease investors. That would make FemTech products less accessible for women, adding another hindrance to women’s health. Safe to say, for a FemTech startup, levying the pink tax is a significant consideration.
How to launch a FemTech startup?
To launch a FemTech startup, you must first prepare yourself for the societal and economic hardships that come with it. You will also need to do thorough market research and come up with a concrete idea–it could be for an app, a software, a device or even a service. The market for women’s health is wide open with numerous opportunities. Look to tap into less explored ideas. Then, get investors on board. There is growing support for FemTech offerings right now, so go and make the most of it. Finally, build a strong team, get all the necessary permissions and start working!
Is FemTech the next best thing in healthcare?
As entrepreneurs draw the world’s attention to women’s health, FemTech is set to grow in the coming years. On the potential of FemTech, the CEO of mobile app Clue, Ida Tin, who coined the term “FemTech”, said, “You might come to a point where you can really enable a woman to take out her phone and she can see if it’s a day she can get pregnant. And then you have a digital contraceptive, which is obviously a huge market opportunity in the world.”
Partner at the London-based healthcare consultancy firm Candesic, Dr. Michelle Tempest, told the New York Times, “There’s definitely an increasing appetite for anything in the world which is technology[-driven], and a realization that female consumer power has arrived.” According to her, that power wants access to quality and future-forward healthcare.
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