Despite femtech’s recent growth in the digital health sector, only 3% of the digital health deals in the U.S. since 2011 have focused on women’s health, according to a new report from Rock Health.
Of that percentage, a majority of the funding has gone to companies targeting fertility, pregnancy or motherhood. Rock Health says that 65% of all femtech funding has gone to these areas, while less than 45% of the female population in the U.S. is of reproductive age. Furthermore, only 10% of women struggle to get or stay pregnant, according to the report.
“We shouldn’t have to say it, but here it goes: women are so much more than their reproductive organs,” the authors wrote in the report. “The shortsightedness of only building around this (important) need means companies miss the greater opportunity to enhance the totality of women’s healthcare experience. While we’ve cheered advancement in the Femtech sector, we’re just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to transforming the health of all women.”
From 2013 to 2018, femtech saw year-over-year growth for venture investments. The sector went from just five deals in 2013 to 18 deals in 2018, worth $388 million. Still, though, femtech made up 4.7% of that year’s total digital health funding.
Since its peak in 2018, femtech deals have been on the decline. In 2019, the category received 3.3% of digital health funding and 1.5% through the first half of 2020.
When looking at the femtech landscape, Rock Health found that companies operate in five segments: fertility, pregnancy and motherhood, sexual and gynecological health, chronic disease, and lifestyle and wellness.
There are, however, many areas within women's health that the report says are currently unmet. Some of these include combating maternal mortality among Black mothers, inclusive care for queer and transgender communities, prenatal remote monitoring devices, and sexual education.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Women are traditionally underrepresented in clinical trials, however, femtech offers a way to bridge that gap.
Reports show that the femtech market is on the rise, with one report from Research2Guidance predicting that the market revenue will reach $297 million by 2024.
Despite that, experts still say this is just the beginning for femtech. Expanding into more segments is one way companies can meet their full potential.
THE LARGER TREND
In June, Women of Wearables hosted a forum about femtech where investors discussed the state of the market.
Again, much of the discussion surrounded the need for expanding the industry beyond fertility and pregnancy.
AARP recognizes the need to address other spaces in women’s health with its Hacking Menopause Challenge. Three startups were recognized for their noninvasive tools to combat common menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, fatigue and sleep disorders.
Also in the menopause space is CurieMD, which offers women remote consultations and, for the first time, mail-order prescriptions of menopause hormone-replacement therapies.
Femtech company Bloomer recently raised $3 million in seed-round funding for its bra-like ECG tech. The wearable is able to track a woman’s health data over time. In addition to the ECG, users can view pulse rates, respiratory rates and heart rhythms.
ON THE RECORD
“We believe the opportunity extends beyond the connotations of the widely-used term 'Femtech,' and see an untapped market capable of supporting the diversity of women’s experiences, with an emphasis on addressing health inequities and tackling stigmatized conditions,” the authors wrote in the report.