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November 19, 2021

A Change of Direction May Be on the Cards for Women’s Health Tech (WHT)

Commentary
Jinsy Raichanna
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The Status Quo: Women’s health tech solutions have mostly been period or fertility trackers. ‘’Digital health for women’’  has historically been dominated by solutions in the reproductive space with a high focus on period and fertility tracking apps as well as those that provide women with pregnancy and postpartum information. However, women’s health is of course vastly more complicated and extends beyond reproductive health alone. It is known that the experience of certain health conditions (cardiovascular, metabolic, musculoskeletal) can vary significantly based on gender.  It is therefore imperative that digital health solutions for women focus on more than just reproduction. 

There’s a lot of money in WHT, with just under half available for new types of solutions. With hundreds of period and fertility tracking apps already on the market, the space is ripe for innovation and has the funds to back it. Just this year, US WHT startups raised $1.3B, nearly doubling all of 2020’s $774M funding across a similar number of deals. Globally, the WHT market is estimated to be worth $50BN by 2023. While the market share of Fertility Tech alone will be $36Bn, there’s still quite a bit of room for innovation in other areas of women’s health. The market is witnessing a shift from software solutions using calendar tracking to more engaging novel diagnostics for gynecologic disorders and targeted virtual care for women.  

Innovations are developing in the area’s of menopause, under-researched gynecologic disorders & In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). 


Menopause

Menopause changes a lot in a woman's life. Many women who are in their 40s today are digitally literate and tech savvy. Market research suggests that globally women’s earnings are rising faster than men’s. This high earning potential makes them an ideal target market as they may be especially receptive to D2C digital health solutions. Many startups are trying to abolish the stigma surrounding menopause by developing platforms that encourage open communication, enabling women to share experiences, identify symptoms and discuss treatment options (e.g Alva's online community).The digital health menopause space is quite diversified in terms of solution types and the variety of unmet needs being addressed. Solutions for menopause range from CBT-based techniques for the management of symptoms (e.g Caria by Virtue Health), cooling bracelets for hot flashes (e.g. Astinno's Grace Braclet), to specialised telehealth (e.g. Genney)

Gynecologic Disorders 

With the market’s focus moving away from fertility trackers, previously under-recognised and under-researched reproductive conditions are now being addressed. Within this space, companies are focusing on conditions such as endometriosis and PCOS. For instance, companies are supplementing their solutions with condition-specific assessments (e.g Flo and Clue) or working on non-invasive diagnostics (e.g NextGen Jane and Dotlab) while others are focusing their efforts on specialised telehealth initiatives for such conditions (e.g Tia, Perla and Allara)

IVF Treatment Optimisation & Infertility

As more and more women are choosing to conceive later in life, this has opened up various avenues in the space for IVF treatment optimisation as well as IVF success prediction and egg freezing. One notable example is the FertilityNow App which has an algorithm that can predict chances of pregnancy with IVF treatment. Companies are also starting to specialise in assisted reproductive technology by leveraging big data and genomics (e.g. Celmatix). Consumer-focused service providers are also helping couples leverage technology to improve fertility chances. In Vitro Fertilisation and Infertility are potential areas where the power of digital can be harnessed to facilitate effective patient-provider communication, support those wanting to conceive through stressful IVF cycles and equip couples with reputable educational resources about infertility.


Future Gazing: We can expect to see WHT continue to expand into less-saturated spaces and become part of the mainstream healthcare landscape. As the Women’s Health Tech umbrella continues to expand into less-saturated spaces, we expect to see solutions that address all aspects of women’s health including the previously unchartered territories of sexual wellness. pregnancy complications and postpartum depression (Woebot’s digital chatbot tackling postpartum depression recently received FDA breakthrough designation), among others. With high-dollar exits paving the way for Women’s Health Tech we also expect to see an embrace of these solutions into the mainstream healthcare landscape.

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