International Women’s Day this month shines a spotlight on women’s inequality and raises awareness of their needs. It’s also the right time to discuss women’s health — specifically, the gender imbalance in healthcare. Despite significant technology advancements, investment and progress in health solutions that address the unique needs of women still have a way to go.
Besides the many health issues that only women face, like pregnancy, menopause, cervical cancer and breast cancer, women are also at a higher risk for conditions and diseases such as depression, autoimmune disease, osteoarthritis and stroke.
So how will we tackle this in 2021?
Though 2020 will be recorded as one of the most challenging years of the past century, it also brought significant progress driven by Covid-19. The adoption of emerging medical technologies accelerated at an unprecedented rate, and by the end of the year, healthcare had secured its position at the forefront of public awareness. In the field of women’s health, I believe this progress will significantly strengthen the foothold of femtech solutions that had been gained over previous years.
As health organisations and the medtech sector continue to navigate the new normal in how care is provided in the fields of breast cancer, cervical cancer, menopause and pregnancy, I believe 2021 will be the year when new technologies driven by the Covid-19 pandemic will ensure women’s health becomes more accessible, affordable and convenient. Here are the three key trends I think we can expect to see through 2021.
1. Patient consumerism will drive women’s health awareness.
More patients are now active participants throughout their care journey, from research to care delivery. With an increasing wealth of information readily available on the Internet, women have access to more reliable health information than ever before. Professional websites and social forums are allowing women of all ages to independently educate themselves and share information on options available for care. As women’s voices are being heard, technologies and solutions will adapt to meet women’s needs rather than satisfying provider-centric or payer demands. In turn, healthcare providers will quickly adopt the types of solutions that women are seeking, ensuring better care for all.
2. An unquestionable preference for minimally invasive treatment.
As Covid-19 has led to delayed elective surgeries and medical resources have been allocated elsewhere, the adoption of minimally invasive procedures significantly increased in 2020. Minimally invasive approaches offer many advantages for patients and healthcare providers, including faster recovery, fewer complications, less hospitalisation time and resources, and economic benefits — while still achieving effective and safe treatment. The advantage of allowing procedures to be performed in the privacy of the physician’s office instead of the hospital, particularly in the field of women’s health, has been a key contributor to their significant uptake during Covid-19.
3. More personalised women’s healthcare at home.
Telehealth boomed during the Covid-19 crisis and this trend is here to stay. For women’s health, this is great news and the numerous digital health solutions on the market are keenly advancing a more personalised healthcare approach. Mobile tracking apps for fertility and pregnancy constitute more than 50% of the femtech market. These provide women with an easy home-based monitoring tool, like the one offered by HeraMED, which also enables remote midwife support and reassurance. Annual women’s wellness exams and cancer screenings dropped significantly during the pandemic. For this reason, I foresee new tools being developed to support remote screening, diagnosis and monitoring of high-risk conditions affecting women, such as cervical and breast cancer, arthritis and osteoporosis.
We are witnessing accelerated changes in the healthcare landscape, and women’s health is gaining the traction it deserves in these times. These developments are being driven by patient choice — and emerging technologies in women’s health will rapidly enrich women’s decision-making power. Fuelled by Covid-19, I believe this trend will result in more tailored healthcare solutions for women, offering improved outcomes, more convenience and more reassurance in 2021.