Rise of 'femtech' promises health solutions for women
- A growing number of digital startups are focusing on the use of data to provide health recommendations to women, according to a panel of speakers at this week's TechCrunch Disrupt.
- Among the technologies highlighted were connected breast pumps from Naya Health, which provide mothers with lactation insights such as their best times to pump and how to best maximize their milk production.
- Other highlighted technologies involved apps for fertility research and insights, with one fertility tracker even suggesting it could serve as a "digital contraceptive."
While several start-up co-founders pointed toward massive growth potential for the female health tech market, they conceded that it could prove a sensitive--and sometimes controversial--new landscape as products strive to find a place of trust and to gauge just how far to go in providing women with health advice.
During the panel itself, TechCrunch reporter Sarah Buhr challenged CEO Ida Tin of Clue, a fertility tracker, over her assertion that women will be able to trust their phone to tell them whether it's a day they can get pregnant or not through "a digital contraceptive, which is obviously a huge market opportunity in the world.” When Buhr disagreed, Tin argued, “A lot of people already do it," though she added they don't recommend it without any backup contraception.
However, as Albert Wenger, a partner at Union Square Ventures in New York commented to Bloomberg in June about the need for Clue, more women are going to have easy access to a smartphone than to birth control.
Tin also aims to develop Clue to use women's health input to identify diseases such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and endometriosis based on their health patterns, and then recommend seeing a physician. That plan currently hinges on working through the regulatory aspects, Tin said.
The recent Bloomberg report also highlighted the rise of women-led startups focusing on women's health, noting more venture capital is going toward the niche; nine female-focused digital-health companies raised $82 million through the third quarter of 2015, up from $29 million in 2014, it quoted Rock Health.