Does Digital Health Technology Know Women? – The Medical Futurist

It’s well known that the technological sector
is dominated by men. And I was curious how this gender bias translates
to apps and innovations on a consumer level. Let’s take a look at how women’s health
is being taken care of by the tech industry. In spite of the slogan of diversity pinned
on the flag of many tech companies, the field is dominated by men. With the Big Bang Theory, Silicon Valley and
The Social Network, it’s easy to imagine Silicon Valley as a bunch of guys in hoodies
and flip-flops, solving big problems, with women as sidekicks rather than protagonists. Women hold only 11 percent of executive positions
at Silicon Valley companies and only own 5 percent of startups. And it shows. The majority of the period tracker apps fail
women miserably. Fitness trackers and wearables are useless
when it comes to pregnancy. Most of our apps were designed and developed
without the input of their future consumers. And it’s not like there’s no demand. In the health category, period tracking apps
are reportedly the fourth most popular. Yet it took years for Fitbit and Apple Watch
to add it as a feature. And on the app side, a recent study showed
that 95% of menstrual cycle tracking apps are inaccurate for patient use – and almost
none of them cite medical literature or health professional involvement. But women’s health is not only about period
tracking and pregnancy. A lot less consideration is given to other
female health problems as well, such as menopause, cancer detection, breastfeeding troubles,
troubles around bladder control, and a lot more. While digital health companies already appeared
in these areas, their number is quite low, and they’re usually struggling to get funded. Let’s take a look at NextGen Jane, a San
Francisco based start-up that promises to get insights into female reproductive health
from menstrual blood in order to detect early biomarkers for endometriosis, cervical cancer
or other conditions. They struggled to get funding for years. So if there’s demand, and these issues affect
half of the population, why do only 10 percent of investor money go to women-led startups? Why do tech companies overlook features specific
to women? It’s terrible to see how digital health
is failing those in need, so here’s a wake-up call! Femtech investors, women’s health advocates,
as well as fitness wearable manufacturers step forward and create solutions that serve
the entire population.

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