Femtech Explained: A Look at Health IT Use Cases
Over the years, femtech has evolved beyond female reproductive health to encompass a broader scope of health. It can now refer to technology related to health conditions that affect women differently or disproportionately, such as autoimmune disorders, migraines and cardiovascular disease.
“When 80 to 90 percent of people with a disease or disorder are women, then it’s a women’s health issue,” says Barreto. She says that disease can also present differently in men and women, which is something that needs to be considered when creating diagnostic tools.
It’s also important to consider how gender bias can impact care delivery in areas such as pain management and mental health.
“The COVID-19 pandemic drew our nation’s attention to many gaps in mental healthcare access and delivery in our country,” she says. “We know now that women are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression. Gender is increasingly acknowledged as a social determinant of mental health in the U.S., and more investment in this area is critical to helping us better understand the root causes behind these inequities.”
Many femtech companies are providing individualized care programs with a unique understanding of the factors that affect women’s mental health. One such technology, LunaJoy, offers online, holistic mental health counseling and therapy for women. Another is Flo, an app designed to help women manage their menstrual cycles in addition to tracking and monitoring moods. Femtech companies have the opportunity to screen and monitor gender-specific mental health issues and provide digital interventions, according to Solinsky.
She says femtech should design mental health interventions for women experiencing antepartum and postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, complex menopause issues, perinatal mental health issues, eating disorders, traumatic births or miscarriages, and intimate partner violence or gender-based violence.
Barreto says there are several new femtech solutions she’s excited about, including Rosy, an app focused on sexual dysfunction founded by an OB-GYN; Juno Bio, an at-home vaginal microbiome test; Irth, an app where women of color can review doctors and hospitals based on their prenatal, birthing, postpartum and pediatric experiences; and NUA Surgical, an Irish femtech startup that developed the SteriCISION C-section Retractor to improve access and visibility during caesarean deliveries.
Tips on Femtech Implementation for Healthcare Organizations
Femtech adoption is not only happening on a patient level. Many traditional, brick-and-mortar healthcare organizations are adopting femtech. For example, Oova is an at-home hormone test paired with a smartphone app that translates test results into a personalized fertility plan. It was created in collaboration with the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York by a doctor who personally experienced challenges in her fertility journey.
“Once patients receive their results within the app, their hormone levels and any relevant symptoms are reported in rea time on the Oova provider dashboard and can be viewed at any of the 100 partner fertility clinics across the U.S.,” says Solinsky.
Another femtech company, Babyscripts, offers a software that logs maternal health vitals using remote monitoring. Barreto says the company offers its app as a white-label product for healthcare organizations.
“Many women will have more faith in a technology if it’s offered through their personal doctors,” she adds. “It’s a great business model, but these companies need more funding to achieve further success.”
Healthcare organizations looking to adopt or implement femtech must invest in quality data with accurate gender representation, which can often be an issue in clinical trials.