Beyond Wellness: How Femtech is Shaping the Future of Women's Healthcare

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Product Minting


Remember when Femtech was a brand-new term nobody knew? It feels like we have been using this word forever, but it has been around for less than a decade! Yet the history of products, technologies, and services addressing health issues specific or prevalent to women started long ago, ages before this umbrella term was first used in 2016 to address this rapidly evolving market. Since then, this industry has had major plot twists, from Maven Clinic becoming the first Femtech unicorn in 2021 to venture capital infusions shaking up the game; the sector is sizzling hot!

And let us give a thumbs-up to the growing acceptance and de-stigmatization of women’s health issues. It is no longer a niche but a booming market, with its size estimated at over $55 billion in 2022 and expected to surpass $100 billion by 2030.

Why is it important to me?

I am a digital tech specialist coming from the Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning field with a rich background in building and successfully deploying voice recognition, AI cameras, and virtual assistant products catering to millions. Lately, I have shifted my focus, stepping into the intriguing world of Femtech and healthcare drawn by the promise of AI to simplify and enhance healthcare solutions, changing stagnant approaches to women’s healthcare through daring initiatives.

With this article providing a thoughtful inquiry into how advanced technologies like LLMs shape modern healthcare and Femtech, I invite you to join me on this exciting journey. Together, we will take a look at how AI/ML boosts the Femtech market and sift through the new directions and strategies reshaping this burgeoning sector. Our aim will be not only to learn about the tendencies of the industry but also to identify key patterns that could offer thrilling opportunities. And so, if you are curious like me about how novel technologies improve healthcare experiences for women and what strategic footholds exist in the Femtech market, let us dive in and explore.

In the last few years, the Femtech sector has been undergoing a transformative shift. Gone are the days when Femtech products predominantly focused on menstrual cycle tracking and fertility planning. Today, the industry is blossoming with more specialized solutions, from advanced home-testing kits to cutting-edge wearables. Technological advances have attracted a range of strong players in a multitude of niche markets, each aiming to revolutionize different aspects of women’s health.

1. From Basic Tracking to Comprehensive Health Solutions

Take Sonio, a Paris-based Femtech firm. They recently received FDA clearance for their AI product, Sonio Detect, which aims to redefine prenatal ultrasounds. What sets Sonio apart is its manufacturer-independent tool that simplifies the screening process while raising its efficiency and accuracy, offering an easy-to-use yet powerful solution.

San Francisco startup Mira is pioneering another monumental shift in Femtech by embedding lab technology into a handheld fertility monitor. With a user base exceeding 76,000, Mira’s advanced fluorescent detector goes beyond traditional ovulation kits. The technology allows for daily health checks and has accumulated an impressive amount of data — over 8.5 million hormone data points and analysis of more than 670,000 menstrual cycles. With AI-driven insights into hormone fluctuations, Mira is offering more personalized and accurate predictions than ever before, quite literally putting a mini hormone lab in the palms of its users. Recently, The Inc. placed Mira at number 437 on its 2023 list of fastest-growing private companies in the US, ranking it the highest among Femtech companies.

More complex products that require significant medical research are also quickly gaining momentum. Teal Health exemplifies this with its recent $8.8 million seed funding round, backed by prominent investors like Emerson Collective and Serena Ventures. The funds aim to build a comprehensive women’s telemedicine platform, starting with the crucial issue of cervical cancer.

2. The Rise of Wearable Innovations

Wearable technology is another frontier where Femtech is making significant strides. One famous example is Bloomlife, a clinically validated diagnostic device for pregnant women that allows future mothers to track contractions, giving them a better awareness of their progress.

Movano Health has captured attention with its Evie Ring — a wearable gadget currently under examination by the FDA. Upon receiving FDA clearance, the Evie Ring will have the potential to set new standards in women’s health monitoring, offering an integrated, round-the-clock health monitoring and tracking solution right at the user’s fingertips.

Ava, a fertility and pregnancy tracking bracelet with an accuracy rate of over 90%, has already been cleared by the FDA. Established in 2014, well before we even started using the term ‘Femtech,’ Ava is a prime example of a successful Femtech startup. Having attracted over $42 million in funding, the company reported to have helped over 70 thousand women in 36 countries to get pregnant by 2020.

3. The Expansion to Different Age Groups

One of the noteworthy trends in Femtech recently is the surge in startups focusing on menopause. According to Female Insights, over 30% of companies in this sector were founded in the last three years alone. This uptick is accompanied by increasing diversity in the types of solutions being offered to tackle menopausal symptoms — from mobile apps that track hormones and symptoms and platforms facilitating user interaction and community building to consumer goods and therapeutic medications.

According to Pubmed, by 2030, up to 1.2 billion women will be in or approaching menopause globally, with 47 million new women joining every year. By 2025, it is estimated that over 1 billion people worldwide—about 12% of the population—will be going through menopause. Financially, the menopause product market was valued at $15 billion in 2020 and is projected to skyrocket to $23 billion by 2028. These figures illustrate a maturing market with significant financial potential, underscoring why it has become a magnet for innovation and investment.

An Irish startup, IdentifyHer, offers menopausal women AI-driven sensor solutions. Controlled through a smartphone app, the sensor passively gathers information on menopause symptoms without interfering with the wearer's daily activities. The app also makes use of the data gathered to track progress and assess the effectiveness of lifestyle changes. The collected data is presented in periodic reports and can be used by medical professionals to diagnose and treat menopausal symptoms.

Midday is another customized menopause product developed by US-based startup Lisa Health that offers comprehensive management of the menopause journey. Midday’s solution, including a wearable device, an AI-based symptom tracking system, and a decision support tool for hormone therapy, uses advanced tracking to determine the menopause stage and anticipate symptoms. The app is used by doctors to manage the entire menopause process and provide decision support, while users are provided with a variety of therapeutic options and informational resources to give them personalized insights and get them ready for every stage of menopause.

4. Going Beyond Just Health

Although Femtech is considered, first of all, a rising star in the Medtech industry, the possibilities of women-oriented digital technology products are not limited to healthcare alone. Recently, the term started to see new applications, one of which is Women’s Safety.

Indian startup Shakti Wearables manufactures Shakti, a women’s defensive wearable device that increases women's safety in dangerous situations. When the wearer activates the button on the device, a small, non-lethal current is released, electrifying an attacker, while the internal insulation of the bangle keeps the wearer safe; this gives women a chance to flee their attackers and call for assistance. Additionally, Shakti sends the wearer's most important three contacts a WhatsApp message with their most recent live location.

Another interesting personal safety app is being developed by Australian startup Safely, offering women peer-to-peer support in tense or frightening circumstances. With their contacts, users of the app can create private groups or circles for internal communication and location sharing. In case of emergency, users can also switch on the high-alert mode and notify each of their designated guardians. The app then uses live monitoring, records live video and audio, sends GPS updates, and saves all of this data to the cloud for later use as evidence. Additionally, users receive safety alerts from locations of interest to help them plan their commute or travel safely.

Expanding healthcare’s reach with new technologies

The world of healthcare is rapidly evolving, especially when it comes to Femtech. This dynamic transformation is powered by modern innovative technologies that are reshaping how women engage with healthcare and how healthcare providers offer services tailored to them.

1. The Personalization Revolution Fueled by LLMs

One of the most disruptive advancements in this domain is the rise of Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT and GPT-4. Far from being a mere tech fad, LLMs are revolutionizing healthcare, with Femtech embracing this new technology. LLMs have the potential to serve as virtual nursing assistants, supporting busy doctors in responding to patients' basic queries about medications or health conditions. As you will see from the examples below, LLMs are proving to be instrumental in facilitating the creation of highly promising Femtech products, from personalized consulting products to innovative community engagement tools.

One of the most intriguing examples of the implementation of this technology in Femtech is Soula, a Cyprus-based startup that provides women with support during pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood with its "AI-powered" assistant. Powered by Med-PaLM, an LLM developed by Google to generate answers to medical questions, the app is expected to be able to respond to inquiries about pregnancies and maternity issues and provide information on a range of health-related concerns. It will also be able to answer questions about diet, sleep, physical activity, and emotional self-care, as well as track fetal movement and kick frequency.

Mexican startup Kuna utilizes an LLM-powered chatbot to give women a secure way to access information and advice on parenting and sexual health. The startup's AI-powered chatbot, Kuna Chat, offers details on sex, reproduction, pregnancy, and parenthood. The startup also provides online consultations with experts for more complex or difficult questions. In this way, Kuna encourages sex education for the uneducated while offering trustworthy, practical, and concrete answers to users' queries.

2. Cost-Effective Health Management

An extraordinarily important aspect of building successful medical products is to make services affordable to the customer, reaching broader but less solvent user segments and geographies. In this vein, Femtech offers not only personalized but also cost-effective healthcare solutions. Apps often provide free basic versions, with premium services available through subscription fees. Quite obviously, the use of LLMs trained on medical data sets and specialized in specific product cases can provide a boost to the more affordable cost of the products themselves.

For example, the Ava fertility bracelet mentioned in the previous section of this article costs around $249 in the U.S., and the accompanying app is free with the bracelet purchase. When considering that the average cost of infertility treatment in the U.S. is around $11,000—often not covered by basic healthcare plans—Femtech presents a more affordable starting point for many women.

3. Breaking Barriers in Remote and Rural Areas

Digital technology in Femtech is also crucial for improving healthcare access in remote and rural areas, especially in low- or middle-income countries in Africa and Asia — two regions with the highest female populations. Femtech provides innovative solutions such as virtual prenatal visits and remote monitoring, empowering women to manage their health more cost-effectively, regardless of their location.

One successful example of such a product is M♡THer – a virtual care product facilitating the diagnosis of gestational diabetes mellitus by measuring blood glucose levels, blood pressure, weight, and more. GDM affects up to 20% of pregnant women, leading to various birth complications, and M♡THer, developed by the Australia E-Health Research Centre, has already benefited thousands of women in remote areas of the region.

4. A Multifaceted Approach to Chronic Diseases

Femtech is not solely about reproductive health; it also targets female-specific chronic diseases through a mix of prevention, societal change, and technology. Mobile apps and wearable devices make it easier to manage and monitor conditions over time, a vital component of tackling chronic diseases that affect women disproportionately.

To name an example of a health issue specific to women, it is estimated that 1 in 10 women have endometriosis – the growth of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus that can cause significant problems from pelvic pain to infertility. DotLab, a US-based medical diagnostics company, pioneers medical tests in this area, applying machine learning mechanisms to diagnose and assess this currently incurable disease.

On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Kheiron Medical Technologies, a UK Medtech startup, combines data science and radiology to help with the diagnosis of breast cancer, another terrible disease affecting predominantly women. According to published clinical trial results, the company’s breakthrough technology achieves previously unseen heights in malignancy detection in breast cancer screening.

Applied Conclusions

Recent years have shown rapid exponential growth in the number of Femtech companies and products, both through the use of innovative technologies and through the discovery of more and more new applications and solutions. With the Femtech market estimated to reach an imposing $100 billion globally by 2030, it is one of the areas of the modern technology economy that is expected to provide maximum lucrative opportunities for new bright ideas and prosperous businesses in the coming years. While deciding whether to follow this attractive route, aspiring Femtech entrepreneurs should consider the following market characteristics.

  1. While there are highly competitive niches in the Femtech market, specifically well-established fields like menstrual cycle and pregnancy tracking, there are also areas that are more attractive for entry. Examples of such areas include app-controlled wearables and menopause management. The largest share of the global women’s health market surprisingly pertains to chronic women’s health conditions (forecast to reach $218 billion by 2027), and only 1 percent of existing Femtech companies address this area. Did you hear that? That is an opportunity knocking.

  2. AI and specifically Large Language Models can be a powerful boost for Femtech products as (a) with proper customization, LLMs assist in scaling the product or service itself and strengthen the core part of the product, and (b) they provide magnificent tools for community development, and the community is said to be the most important part of a product! Organic communities built around products are both a way of monetization and a tool that increases retention, helping build durable community-led growth.

  3. Taking into account the fact that the Femtech market is rapidly developing with a simultaneous increase in competition, and given the general market conditions (in particular, subscription applications revenues are currently declining; even if positive dynamics have remained in the Medtech segment, it has become more difficult to attract and retain users), companies need to be cost-efficient and provide a highly personalized, secure service to survive and rise above the competitors. A relevant and extremely effective tool employed by more and more technology startups for achieving these goals, again, is AI technologies. Whether it's addressing questions about menstrual health, pregnancy, or chronic conditions, LLMs can fill the information gap quickly and efficiently. Statistically, only 6% of Femtech companies used AI in 2021, mostly in diagnostics and data analytics, and while this share has seen stable growth over the years, there is enough room for new inspired ideas and success stories in this area.

All in all, the advent of Large Language Models heralds an exciting era for Femtech entrepreneurs. LLMs have the potential to revolutionize user engagement and content delivery, supporting busy healthcare professionals by handling preliminary patient communication, serving as virtual nursing assistants or health advisors, and simply bringing a personalized touch to technology. With cutting-edge AI technologies charging Femtech products, humanity has the chance to drastically improve the efficiency of the entire healthcare system catering to women. Finally, there is a chance to overcome the millennia-old barriers plaguing this area of medicine, such as high costs, gender bias, stigmatization of women's health-related topics, and a lack of resources.

Powered by the latest technological advancements, Femtech waits for its next hero — and it may be you!

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