Expanding the Field of Digital Health for Women’s Health Care Benefits Everyone
Imagine targeting healthcare solutions that could meet the needs of nearly half of the world’s population. The sheer size potential makes this an important market to consider.
Yet, women are constantly overlooked and underserved in the health field. Issues and solutions supporting women’s health care are chronically underfunded and under-researched, putting the outlook of the health and well-being of women in a precarious state. Only 3% of businesses that raised financing (since 2011) have had a women’s health focus.
This is why Bayer G4A invests in digital health solutions to better support women’s health solutions and help level the health care field for the world’s mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends. The global women’s digital health solutions market was projected to reach $1.9 billion last year and is dominated by mobile apps tracking menstrual and fertility cycles and pregnancy. But there is a vital need to expand the field of digital health for women of all ages and life stages.
Learn more about the Bayer G4A 2022 Partnerships to join our portfolio.
Women’s Health is Not Just Reproductive Health
The most common focus and investment in women’s health is fertility. However, this does not adequately consider the full spectrum of health issues and identities women encounter throughout their lifetimes. Women’s health is not just about reproductive health; it can encompass care for pre-teens, chronic diseases, and peri and post-menopausal women, each with their areas of need.
With an average life expectancy of 80.5 years, women are in their reproductive years for less than half of their lives and therefore need the support of solutions that can look at the big picture. In solving some of the most pressing women’s health issues, the opportunity to steer policy change is also important to recognize. For example, the pregnancy-related death rate in the US is an issue that spotlights racial disparities in women’s health care. Black, American Indian, and Alaskan Native women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women — a clear indicator of the need to find a different way to provide better, more equitable care. By leveraging innovation and digital health, population health initiatives could begin to shift staggering statistics like these and improve outcomes.
In re-framing women’s health to have a more holistic view, the health care sector can also consider broader health aspects like mental health and overall lifestyle and well-being. One example of wider-reaching care is the health and wellness coaching boom. Coaching is no longer viewed in isolation as fitness or personal training and can include personalized nutrition coaching and condition-specific expertise.
The role of the health coach in bridging primary care physicians and the traditional health system holds incredible value and can make a culture of preventative care a reality. And leveraging digital health tech to make it easier to access means it can be more available to broader and condition-specific populations alike. For example, by making health coaching accessible for women living with often debilitating chronic conditions like endometriosis or PCOS, the chance to improve and sustain their overall quality of life is undeniable. By investing in preventative and lifestyle intervention resources, the public health system will save money and improve common knock-on effects like work and school productivity and absenteeism. Investing in regular, consistent care is an “everyone wins” scenario.
Shared Health Concerns & Risk Factors
It’s not just traditional women’s health issues that need more attention — women experience significant rates of cardio and metabolic conditions like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Heart disease, for example, is the leading cause of death among women in the US (it is the cause of one in every five female deaths).
Although the US spends more than $2 trillion a year on health care (more than any other country in the world), the state of health inequity means millions of people are diagnosed with or dying from preventable conditions. Comorbidities and risk factors observed among men, like high cholesterol, can also be present in women, albeit with potentially varying occurrence rates. But managing factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking have a clear and significant impact on all. For example, in addition to saving lives, reducing heart disease, kidney disease (more common among women), and stroke by 5% would save the US over $19 billion.
Another example of how digital health tech can have a wide-reaching impact is physiotherapy and pelvic floor health. Each year approximately 162.4 million people in the US are affected by a musculoskeletal (MSK) condition that can cause pain, limited mobility, and impairment of daily living. Within this broader issue is pelvic floor disorder, which affects nearly a quarter of women in the US (and is more common after childbirth and as women age). Pelvic floor disorder can cause pain, stress urinary incontinence, and fecal incontinence and can be treated with specialized physiotherapy. Making pelvic physiotherapy accessible to those who need it can drastically improve their quality of life. Bayer G4A is looking for solutions that can offer patients guided physiotherapy sessions and exercises to address MSK issues, including pelvic floor health.
A growing body of evidence supports that better access to preventative, consistent care leads to better patient outcomes. This includes education, diagnosis, and engagement during treatment or disease management. Digital health can support patients in often under-funded or overlooked areas like women’s health to become more informed, proactive self-advocates. Whether through mobile apps, wearables, algorithms, or other innovations, the potential to expand care and improve outcomes requires dedicated investment.
The Bayer G4A Digital Health Partnerships team welcomes companies for either the Growth Track or Advance Track that develop innovative solutions for the health of women and also develops ongoing relationships with co-investors. Interested in learning more about the Bayer G4A Partnerships Program or ready to join our portfolio? Click to access our Diligence Portal here.