What Can FemTech Teach Digital Health?

FemTech is a tech-enabled, consumer-centric field of solutions addressing women’s health. The field aims to improve women’s healthcare across maternal health, menstrual health, pelvic and sexual health, fertility, menopause and contraception, as well as general health conditions that affect women in unique or disproportionate ways. Although women account for 80% of healthcare consumer purchasing, FemTech companies only receive three percent of all digital health funding. The last decade has seen a steady growth in the field, and McKinsey & Company reported the market size of FemTech being $500 million to $1 billion in February 2022.

These four graphs from McKinsey show that interest in Femtech is rising
Interest in FemTech is Rising – Key Metrics of FemTech Growth – McKinsey and Company

 

Increasing Patient Education

This screenshot shows BabyCenter App's baby size comparison tool, indicating that a 14 week old fetus is the size of a lemon
BabyCenter App – 14 Weeks Baby Size Screen

Period and fertility trackers such as Clue, Glow and Flo allow users to log symptoms for better understanding of their menstrual health. OviaHealth offers three separate apps, Ovia Fertility, Pregnancy and Parenting; each provides education and trackers. Patients find tracking and educational articles to be informative and valuable, according to interviews conducted for our Maternity Care: The Patient Journey Report (subscription required). Several respondents spoke about how interactive elements and visual examples of the baby’s growth allow for better understanding of that week’s developmental progress and enhance their understanding of their pregnancies. Other digital health and patient engagement platforms can add visual aids to enhance the health literacy of visual learners.

 

Improving Access to Care

Patients may avoid medical care for many reasons including inconvenience, price barriers or fear of discrimination. Companies like Nurx and Favor provide direct-to-consumer solutions, such as online prescription and delivery of contraception and STI testing/treatments, allowing patients to bypass a brick and mortar pharmacy. Not only do direct-to-consumer solutions reduce barriers to sexual wellness and gynecological care but they increase medication adherence in general. Stroke patients’ medication adherence increased by over 20% when receiving their prescription via mail order.

This screenshot shows an example of a message board for expecting mothers in the What to Expect app
What to Expect App – Discussion Board

Telehealth also allows for greater access to care. Our Maternity Care Report indicates that telehealth appointments might increase postpartum appointment attendance, considering in-person appointments may be difficult for new mothers to attend when recovering from delivery. Boutique centers, such as Oula Health and Maven, provide a digital app with on-demand appointments and around the clock care team access for pregnant or postpartum patients. Increasing access to on-demand appointments and direct-to-consumer solutions allow patients to feel more in control of their health and stick to prescribed action and medication plans.

 

Addressing Stigmatized Areas

Studies show that 25% of women experience intense menstrual pain, over 30% experience pelvic floor disorders and up to 85% of women ages 45-68 experience a menopause-related symptom. But many do not receive adequate information or care about their concerns. Only half of women discuss menopause with their healthcare provider and the average diagnosis delay for endometriosis is 8-12 years. FemTech has provided a comfortable and discrete avenue to care with telehealth options and digital therapeutics. Digital tools like Renovia’s Leva, an FDA-approved pelvic floor muscle trainer with visualization technology, enable patients to complete medical care from the comfort and security of their own home. Providing discreet at-home care can be beneficial for many stigmatized health concerns, including STI care, substance-use disorders and mental health.

 

Creating Community

CI’s Maternity Care: The Patient Journey Report also revealed that respondents found comfort and connection in virtual communities available through maternity apps. Community-based elements, such as message boards and groups, allow mothers to form connections, read and share experiences and find emotional support. Mothers can also seek reassurance about their symptoms, situations or feelings by reading shared posts or educational articles. Digital health and patient platforms can increase the presence of digital communities, especially targeting at-risk communities such as aging adults, lowering risks of dementia, depression and heart failure.

To learn more about the our Maternity Report, check out the Maternity Care webcast below. And for full access to the report, learn more about our Health System subscription research service here.

 

Alexandra Bolshakov
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Alexandra Bolshakov is an analyst on CI's healthcare team.