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Femtech: The Rising Star

A few years ago, at a coffee shop in London a friend of mine told me about Period Diary, an app she regularly used to keep track of her menstruation cycle. She and her husband were planning a baby and the Period Diary was their guide to ovulation days and fertile days etc. She particularly liked the app as it allowed her to connect with women on the social forum to discuss her issues. The app has close to 30 PMS symptoms and 20 moods listed than can be used to track one’s symptoms, in addition to tracking the menstruation cycle, ovulation dates and PMS.

Since then, I have heard about quite a few period tracking and fertility apps. Maya, the period / health tracking app for women, and the winner of the Facebook FbStart Apps of the Year award (2017), proudly displays on its website that it has already touched the lives of 7 million women worldwide. In fact, there seems to have been a rise in Femtech over the years. Femtech (Female technology) is a term applied to a category of software, diagnostics, products, and services that use technology to focus on and improve women’s health.

Recently, on the 3rd of June, at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in California, new health apps (with Femtech features) for the Apple watch OS 6 were unveiled. The ‘Cycles’ app will allow female users to keep a track of and view key aspects of their cycle, including fertility windows and PMS symptoms they’re experiencing.

As per the Frost & Sullivan 2018 report, Femtech is hailed as the next big phenomenon in the women’s health market. With 50% of the global population as target customers and a market potential of $50 billion by 2025, clinical diagnostics, bio-pharmaceuticals, and medical device companies should tap into this market opportunity.

Here are some key findings of the report:

* Femtech is not limited to any product or service, it’s an end-to-end solution that can impact women’s health and wellbeing. 

* The economic contribution of women is expected to outpace the combined GDP of China and the United States by 2020.

* 90% Women are primary healthcare decision makers for their families and key influencers for friends. 

* 80% of the household healthcare spending is done by women. 

* 75–85% of women are more likely to use digital tools for their healthcare needs compared to men

Femtech applications include overall women’s health issues, such as reproductive and maternal health, general health, which includes mental health, communicable diseases and chronic diseases.

In India, as is the case globally, the primary areas of concern for women are affordable healthcare, family planning and fertility, maternal and child care, mental health and chronic diseases. Therefore, there is significant potential for companies to make a mark and grow in this area.

As per John Paul, the founder of the health app Maya, “Menstrual health is a leading indicator of overall health for women. Issues like Iron deficiency, PCOS, Thyroid, hormonal issues, etc. first show up in period related irregularities. The length of the cycle is also an important indicator of fertility. Particularly in India, incidence of health issues among women is very high – For eg. 59% of women in India are deficient in iron. Our vision for Maya is to be a smart personal health assistant for women – starting with tracking vital health data, getting health related predictions and insights, connecting with expert doctors online and an e-shop to purchase health and wellness products.”

Maya, was recently acquired by SHEROES, a women-only social platform (used by over 15 million women) in an all-stock deal. The platform nurtures interactions, offers support, and opportunities for women; available in five languages, they place high importance on trust and empathy.

According to Sairee Chahal, Founder-CEO of SHEROES, “Reproductive and menstrual health has been a big conversation on the SHEROES app right from the start. Around 30% of the queries in our health community are around periods in general, 9.7% specifically on PCOS and 13% around mental health. Being able to post anonymously helps women to open up. Acquiring Maya has helped us strengthen the Femtech piece further, and we launched a period tracker within the SHEROES app a few months back. Additionally, SHEROES users get to leverage our chat counselling helpline to talk to our in-house counsellors about postpartum depression/ menstruation, sexuality and sexual well-being.

We need more focus around preventive healthcare, and a women-first Internet that’s safe, relevant and high on empathy, which can be a real catalyst for women Internet users. Some of the things happening regularly on the SHEROES app are live chat sessions with our in-house doctor and counsellors, and knowledge sharing by healthcare champions who are specialists in their own field. We have also seen a steep rise in peer-to-peer conversations around health, creating a supportive, high-trust online ecosystem on SHEROES. ”

Healthcare market in India is expected to reach US$ 372 billion by 2022, driven by rising incomes, greater health awareness, lifestyle diseases and increasing access to insurance. – IBEF

A growing sector, the benefits of Femtech for India will be more than just making affordable care accessible to women. In many parts and communities of our country, conversations about Women’s health are still taboo, it is difficult for women talk about, and as a result seek advice about issues such as menstruation, fertility and/ or sexuality. Here is where Femtech will have an impact by helping women understand their bodies, connect with a larger community and speak about their health. The prime focus areas of companies stepping into this market would have be privacy and accuracy at affordable prices.- Business World

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