Digital Health Women's Health

Femtech on the rise, but new companies have homework before they’re ready for payers

The femtech business is making its way onto the digital health map. In fact, according to a new market report by Research2Guidance, there are now over 3,000 app-based women’s health products on the market.

“The addressable market is huge and so we think that the market is still very much in the beginning,” Ralf Jahns, managing director of Reasearch2Guidance, told MobiHealthNews.

The venture dollars are pouring into this space with femtech companies raising over $220 million since 2011, according to the report. By 2024 the research agency is predicting that that number will jump to $297 million.

While more and more services are emerging, the report points out that the bulk of the products remain focused on fertility, pregnancy and early maternity.

“This idea of managing women’s health with digital services along the entire lifecycle of their reproductive phase and ages is what we expected to find, but this is not the case,” Jahns said. “Most of the companies [instead] focus on a segment — so just providing services for fertility, or providing services for pregnancy, or even for menopause. So, it is interesting, it is just the opposite of what we expected.”

As for the future, Jahns said that the startups still have a long way to go before meeting their full potential for reimbursement.

“There is still a lot of work to be done,” he said. “It is a useful opportunity because there is benefit here for payers to save cost in the sense of reducing sick times, or reducing preterm births, or reducing complications during birth especially for the segment of solutions which are working and prenatal care. There are a lot of benefits which could be addressed and put forward.”

Validation is a key to becoming what Jahns calls “payer ready,” or fit for working with insurers and employers.

“They have to still do their homework. Some haven’t even started. There are more than 3,000 vendors and solutions out there,” he said. “Only a minority of them have been able to put together some kind of evidence that their solution does provide some benefits for the patient or for the payer organization.”

WHY IT MATTERS 

Historically women have been underrepresented in clinical research. This growing femtech movement represents a step towards a focus on women’s health.

While many of the products are just coming onto the market, Jahns said that the adoption rates in the US in particular were high. He said that one in five US women in the target demographic are using a femtech product.

“So, 20% of the women in the target group of these applications are capable and use the digital tool,” he said.

He noted that there is potential for expansion into larger countries like India and China in the future.

THE LARGER TREND 

According to a Rock Health report, funding for Femtech companies has increased by 812% from 2014 to 2018. The report also found that these companies were starting to raise money in latter stage rounds. In 2018, 30% of the funding deals for women’s health companies were Series B or later.

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