April 16, 2020
Smashing The Status Quo: Pain Disparities Receive FemTech Solutions
For 352 million women worldwide the pain associated with Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) often falls on deaf ears. And for the millions more experiencing Menopause, the disruptive symptoms are written off as “normal.” Women’s pain has long been pushed aside, ignored, downplayed, even relegated to an apparition or a mental health issue.
This is not new, yet numerous research studies prove its endurance both anecdotally and quantitatively: women wait, on average, 16 more minutes in the Emergency Room for pain relief than men do. And as recently as 1990 women were left out of medical studies altogether. When men are the singular study group, it becomes the norm for which all other interactions are measured against. It’s no wonder that care delivery has been historically fragmented.
In response to these imbalances, a surge of by-women, for-women digital health companies have entered the market. The experience a woman has with her own body is nuanced and direct and thus it uniquely qualifies her to unify and align women’s healthcare needs as they relate to the greater whole.
This investment is paying off. In 2019, funding for FemTech reached $800 million and is expected to keep growing in 2020. As the sector gains traction, it offers proof that consumer appetite for dedicated women’s health solutions was there all along.
Often described as “silent suffering,” Endometriosis and PCOS are categorized by a symptom profile as varied as it is vague. It can be so tough to pin down that a woman might visit seven-to-ten doctors and undergo multiple invasive procedures before receiving her Endometriosis diagnosis. DotLab, founded by Heather Bowerman, is seeking to solve this exact pain point by offering a non-invasive diagnostic tool. For PCOS however, no such solution exists - yet. Ten percent of women suffer from PCOS, a condition of enlarged ovaries edged with small cysts, and 10% suffer from Endometriosis, the growth of uterine tissue outside the uterus. Both conditions are fertile ground for innovation.
Menopause will affect nearly all women in their lifetime. By 2025, 12% of the global population of 8 billion will be experiencing menopause. Between its physical, emotional, and professional toll, Menopause symptoms color every aspect of life. And yet, a traditional office visit with its extreme time constraints will never be ample enough to explore the spectrum of symptoms associated with it. To fill in the gaps Dr. Leslie Meserve founded CurieMD, an online platform that provides resources and support for women experiencing Menopause. Genneve, founded by Jill Angelo, is another option that connects women to dedicated Nurse Practitioners and Primary Care Providers who specialize in Menopause support.
Digital Health solutions are solving for all of the above and more. Like the conditions themselves, each respective tech solution does not exist in a vacuum. It is essential that companies like DotLab, CurieMD, Genneve, and others not only do the job they market, but do so as part of a coordinated effort within the existing ecosystem. Fragmentation must be made whole and silos bridged. Care must be coordinated and decisions made in context. Integrated care is absolutely the future of women’s healthcare. And through it all, women must play a central role as both engaged patients and visionary leaders. Women’s Health is finally emerging from the shadows and into public discourse where it belongs.
At Bayer G4A we are seeking precisely these types of future-facing opportunities. This year we are looking for the right group of Partners to join us in tackling some of health care’s most pressing challenges, from integrated care solutions to Women’s Health and beyond. Find out how you can become a partner at G4A.health.
Writer, Digital Health