Femtech had overall funding of over $1 bn, in the last few years

reenita-das-senior-vice-president-partner-transformational-health

Reenita Das, Senior VP & Partner, Transformational Health (Healthcare) Practice, Frost & Sullivan, speaks on the advances in femtech, its impact on women’s health and future growth drivers and trends of the segment, in an exclusive interaction with Lakshmipriya Nair

Despite huge unmet needs in women’s health across the world why did it take so much time for this segment to emerge and gain recognition?
The delay in gaining recognition was primarily due to the industry’s focus on chronic diseases in the last five to six decades. It was only in this decade that the focus extended beyond cancer, cardiac diseases etc. to lesser fatal diseases that people were suffering since a long time, such as respiratory diseases, sleep disorders etc. This move brought focus on women’s health conditions, and thus to Femtech. Women’s per capita health expenditure in the US is 25 per cent more than the male per capita health expenditure. Globally, over the years, healthcare products and solutions were designed, developed, and delivered without recognising the need for differentiated care for men and women considering the fundamental differences in physical, physiological and psychological factors. Impact of this is particularly true in India where the disparity in healthcare delivery is high based on differences in gender, socio-economic status and regional divide, and this often puts healthcare delivery for women on the back foot. Science and technology has driven these changes as well.

Can you elaborate on the need for gender-specific healthcare and how femtech is enabling a more individualised approach to effectively serve women’s healthcare needs?
Femtech is not just a product for women’s health conditions, but is also for customising products for women, based on their anatomy, even for chronic diseases affecting both men and women. According to research, 60 per cent of the US population has more than one chronic condition and women tend to have more than three chronic conditions on an average, as they grow older. To improve the quality of life for women, we can’t have the same technologies and treatments for both genders. This has led to the need for customising the solutions for women. The focus of femtech currently is towards preventive care and wellness, which works best when the treatment/monitoring is individualised.

I read an earlier article written by you which mentions that Femtech is set to be the next big disruptor in the global healthcare market. What are the factors combining to bring this about?
Femtech had an overall funding of more than $1 billion, in the last few years, which is a significantly high investment for an emerging sector in the short term. Most of the investments are driven by financial companies, not by major medical technology companies. This is a big driver because of the culture of investment companies to drive sales and develop the sector before they sell the companies. Interestingly, now the medical device associations, regulatory bodies are understanding the significance of femtech solutions in saving money for health systems and improving quality of
women’s life.

What are the factors encouraging/inspiring healthcare companies/ innovators/investors to actively develop specialised, interactive applications for women’s health?
Healthcare is in transition. The health systems are moving towards wellness and preventative care. Consumerisation of health and engagement of patients in their health and treatments has the changed the world for device manufacturers. Solutions that are customised, targeted and easy to manage for patients have the highest adoption rate even if it is out-of-pocket spending. Hence, now is the time to grow this sector.

What are the five big growth opportunities in femtech? In which areas of women health are we witnessing a major transformation due to femtech solutions?
Women’s health and wellness, reproductive health, pelvic and uterine care, maternal and infant care are key areas witnessing transformation today with product launches and investments. It is interesting to note that the quality of life of women in these segments is poor, across both established and emerging geographies. Thus, affordable solutions in these segments for women in US or in India will have significant impact.

A Frost & Sullivan report released early this year predicts that with 50 per cent of the global population as target customers, femtech has a market potential of $50 billion by 2025 globally. Can you throw more light on its market potential in India?
It is too early to predict market potential for India, but we anticipate significant change in women’s mindset for femtech product adoption in the country. This we believe will help reduce the rural and urban divide in women’s health in the country.

What will be the future trends in this segment?
The next focus of femtech solutions will move to customise the treatment for chronic diseases in women and use AI to improve quality of life for women using technologies, devices and apps. Anti-ageing, osteoporosis prevention etc. are expected to be the buzz words.