The Rise of Interest & Investment in Women’s Health

In the 3rd century BC, the Greek philosopher Aristotle described women as “malformed.” He believed that the male genitalia were “outwardly directed,” and for him and others this explanation explained health problems peculiar to women.

Thousands of years later, gender bias still persists and contributes to the poor health of women.

Only in 1993 were women of childbearing age allowed to participate in clinical trials (although women are still underrepresented, even for products specifically aimed at women). A 2015 Summit showed that 70% of his graduate medical trainees indicated that the concepts of gender medicine or the impact of sex in treatment, diagnosis and care were never or only occasionally discussed or presented in training programs. I was. And today, life science research and medical practice are still based on a “reference man.” Until 2022, there was no completed 3D model of her in a similarly advanced ‘reference woman’.

As a result, women’s health is understudied, misunderstood and neglected. As of 2018, only 4% of total R&D funding was spent on women’s healthcare-specific products and services, and negative experiences with healthcare providers 20% of women who had sex thought it was because of their gender. Also, women are diagnosed four years later than men in their 750+ diseases on average, and women’s pain is perceived to be less severe than men’s.

but, Despite years of ingrained stigma, women’s health is starting to become a topic of conversation and is a market with huge investment potential.

One of the factors behind this rise is the size of the market. As of 2020, women spend an estimated $500 billion annually on healthcare, and the women’s health market is projected to continue growing and could reach her $1 trillion in the next five years. I’m here. Women dominate healthcare in every aspect. Women make about 80% of health care decisions at home, live longer, spend more money on health care, and see their health care provider more often than men. However, they also tend to provide unpaid health care more frequently than men. If she is unhealthy, she has the emotional, mental, or physical abilities necessary to keep her children, her parents, her in-laws, and others in her care healthy. may not have

Another factor is the relatively new buzzwords talking about women’s health. In 2016, Danish entrepreneur Ida Tin coined the term “FemTech” (short for “female technology”) when describing her period tracking app Clue. Her goal is to describe and justify the women’s health market, and to provoke and appeal to investors (mostly men) who were reluctant to use words like “menstruation” and “menstruation” instead. It was to make something. Since then, “FemTech” has been used to define technologies and products that meet the needs of women, especially in healthcare. For some, “FemTech” and “women’s health” are now synonymous.

The rise of this short, concise, social media-friendly label has fueled both interest and investment in femtech over the years. For example, McKinsey & Co. found that since 2008, there has been an increase in the number of articles on the level of funding in the FemTech space, related investment deals, and companies that have started.

Reflecting McKinsey’s findings, PitchBook Data also shows an increase in both femtech companies funded and dollars raised. Data as of November 2022, PitchBook found that her 29 women’s health and/or femtech companies raised a total of about $62 million in venture capital funding in 2015. .

The amount of money going to these companies, known as women’s health companies, femtech companies, or both, has increased over the last decade or so. But compared to what is needed and what the general healthcare market, which is not gender specific, is receiving, it still doesn’t matter. Put another way, total funding for women’s health and/or FemTech companies, as opposed to women-specific healthcare companies, only accounts for about 1% of typical venture capital funding.

As a result, there is plenty of room for progress and nearly every area of ​​women’s health is open to innovation and investment. Key opportunities include:

endometriosis: Globally, endometriosis (the growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus) affects approximately 10% (190 million) girls and women of reproductive age. It can lead to debilitating pain and infertility, as well as direct and indirect costs of about $21,000 per person per year. However, endometriosis takes an average of seven years to diagnose and currently has no cure.

menopause: Almost all women go through menopause, with a few exceptions. One report estimates the size of the menopausal market at approximately $600 billion. However, because only 20% of OB-GYN HERs are comfortable discussing and treating menopause, 75% of women seeking help to manage their symptoms do not get it. Hmm.

maternal health: The U.S. maternal mortality rate is among the lowest in the developed world and is two to three times higher for black mothers. Nevertheless, nearly 85% of maternal deaths are preventable. Over the past few years, even the White House has noticed this trend and responded with a day of motherhood action and a blueprint for addressing the maternal health crisis.

Stigmatized Areas: Women’s health conditions are often stigmatized, from postpartum depression to period cramps to urinary tract infections to urinary incontinence. Digital healthcare tools allow women to get diagnosed, educate themselves, receive treatment or treatment options, simply connect with others, and face this potentially embarrassing and isolating health condition alone. You can know that you are not there.

culturally sensitive care: Racial bias pervades healthcare, from clinical trials to patient care. Healthcare innovations that address the unique needs of people’s communities and combat fear can increase their chances of seeking care and staying healthy. A culturally sensitive approach to healthcare may benefit others. A study published in 2018 found that closing race-based health disparities could save $135 billion annually. Of that, $93 billion was in extra costs for health care, and $42 billion “would have otherwise hindered productivity.”

Women’s health and FemTech have grown in recent years, especially after the term “FemTech” was coined, but they still fall far short of the interest and funding of typical healthcare companies. Women have been neglected and neglected for centuries. Investments and innovations in this area can have a huge impact, including keeping women and their families healthy, supporting research and development, and eliminating the gender bias towards women and their healthcare that has persisted since ancient Greece. There is a nature. .

Photo: Hossloke, Gatti Images

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