The rise of femtech

Ella Henderson
Advised Account Manager
12 June 2023
3 minute read

Labour leader, Keir Starmer, recently announced that technology is the best way to tackle the growing issues within the NHS. This follows a similar trend globally, where the use of medical technology has grown substantially, both through government-led initiatives and the use of personal apps.

Revenue in the medtech space is targeted at around $580 billion annually, and within the UK, the government launched their first ever medical technology strategy in February.

An emerging subsection of medical technology – ‘femtech’ – has developed with a focus on women’s health, an understudied space for years. Historically, female health issues have often been neglected, and so the heady rise of femtech is making its mark upon the medical space, allowing women to take control for the first time.

So, what is femtech, why do we need it, and what are the pitfalls founders should look out for when insuring their femtech businesses?

Femtech: the intro

Femtech is a relatively recent term, coined in 2016 by Ida Tin, founder of Clue, a menstrual tracking app. It is now used to cover a wide range of technologies from trackers and wearables, to diagnostics and vitamins. It covers all areas of the cis and trans female health space, from hormones and reproductive health to maternal and menopausal health.

Female health has been dominated by men since the dawn of time – in the nineteenth century, having a uterus could be a very significant factor in being diagnosed with hysteria (meaning ‘womb’ in Ancient Greek).

It was only in 1993 that women were first allowed to be a part of US clinical trials – a whole 73 years after they got the vote. Before then, when arguably some of the most impressive changes to healthcare were taking place, half of the population were not factored in when creating life changing treatments.

Femtech, whilst going far in opening up the conversation for female health, does shut out a large portion of the female population.

We’re now seeing the need for huge leaps in education and support in women’s health issues in low-income countries – like the UNICEF-backed app Oky, developed to help children in low and middle income countries learn about reproductive health in a positive way. From period poverty to abortion rights, these are global issues and the technology only works if you have a smartphone or even access to electricity.

So where does insurance fit into this?

Insurance is important for any business. Of course we’d say that, but it’s true. For the femtech sector, insurance should be a high priority as there are so many facets to it.

In a post-GDPR world, data protection is key. Products such as period and fertility tracking apps, medical devices and wearables often require the input of a lot of personal user information. In these cases, insurers will be looking for stringent cyber hygiene along with a decent level of cyber insurance for companies that hold this sort of sensitive data.

Another area femtechs should look into is product liability insurance. There are regulations set out by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to ensure the products work as intended, as financial loss from products failing to perform correctly could have catastrophic effects for companies, especially in the startup space.

Failure of product performance is tied to media liability insurance, which is often an underlooked coverage in medtech policies as a whole. For femtech products, cover for defamation and libel is an important factor to look at when considering your insurance. Poor online customer feedback can disrupt or even paralyse businesses, especially in the startup stage.

Media liability insurance also covers the strict advertising and marketing guidelines laid down in law. Overstepping the mark with advertising can come with significant legal costs and compensation to pay.

Lastly, in an increasingly digital world, the value of intellectual property (IP) insurance is becoming more and more clear. Although not exclusive to femtech, patents and IP rights are vital, valuable assets that you should consider protecting. And intellectual property insurance can help if you need to defend your IP against another company.

Femtech has the power to transform access to healthcare for millions of women globally, and at Superscript we recognise this. As femtech and medtech founders, the last thing you need to be is an insurance expert, and so this is where we come in – experts in both.

This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer.

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