When it comes to femtech, digital health has options for women concerned about fertility, pregnancy and period tracking. But there just aren’t a lot of choices for older women who need help with menopause or senior care, said Reenita Das, global client leader healthcare and life sciences at Frost & Sullivan.
“We need to be really thinking about the needs and challenges of senior women, women over 60,” she said at a presentation at HIMSS21. “Currently we have very little [in the way of] solutions and products and technologies. Most of our work and growth has been around the fertility and menstruation and pregnancy area.”
The disparity doesn’t come from lack of need. Women ages 15 to 40, the focus of reproductive health technology, and women over 40, acyclovir prophylaxis genital herpes who need menopause and senior care, made up nearly equal parts of the global population in 2020, said Chandni Mathur, senior industry analyst for digital health at Frost & Sullivan.
She counted only about 20 digital health options for women over 40, while women of reproductive age had more than 100.
“We need to think differently, we need to come up with solutions. It’s a huge opportunity area,” Mathur said. “Vendors need to think of menopause and senior care as a separate category, move on from fertility and pregnancy.”
One problem is that femtech in general is a small portion of digital health investment, though Das is optimistic it will grow. Only 6.64% of digital health funding in 2018 went to women’s technology products, and that was the highest amount in her analysis between 2013 and 2020.
So why can’t femtech get the investment it needs? Women are behind most femtech products, Das said, but they have to go for funding to largely male venture capitalists who may not recognize the need.
But she noted other challenges too: the stigma female founders looking for investment face, and mistrust due to earlier femtech products that were developed by men.
“I’m pretty optimistic that we’ve started a movement within the femtech market. And many more female-specific venture capital groups started, setting up, and investing in that movement will continue to happen,” Das said. “But we’re not mainstream yet. We’re still on the sidelines.”
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