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July 12, 2021

Healthcare, digital health trends and their impact on FemTech

PwC Global Health Topics 2021

During the Tech4Eva Zurich Roadshow on July 1st, Isma Hachi, PhD, Senior Manager in Life Sciences Consulting at PwC Switzerland, presented an overview of the Global top health industry issues 2021 and their impact on the FemTech sector.

Four issues have been identified by PwC through several interviews with key health executives and the results of a global consumer survey of 10,000 people across 10 countries (link to the full report).

The three main issues covered during the Tech4Eva Zurich Roadshow are:

1.    Striking the right balance on virtual clinical care

a.    Survey results show that consumers have an extremely high interest in remote care even if they are able to return to in-person care

b.    There are significant challenges to determine the right balance between virtual and in-person care and those challenges are also related to finding the right experience for patients and physicians as well as defining a well-established reimbursement strategy

2.    Harnessing data analytics

a.    In addition to a need for a strong data analytics capability and a clear value proposition, an ecosystem approach is a must have. Because no one holds the keys to all types of data, collaboration and a willingness to gather information from non-traditional sources are vital

b.    A relevant example in FemTech is LactApp with their data/AI-driven approach at an affordable cost for breastfeeding mothers. Mothers ask questions based on their concerns and the app uses AI/machine learning to answer in real time (i.e.; 98% queries answered autonomously while the remaining 2% require a virtual consultation with a LactApp specialist through the app)

3.    Evolving clinical trials

a.    Digitally driven trials are not only applicable for COVID as 93% of Pharma Life Sciences executives answered that digital elements are important to their pipeline in the next five years

b.    66% of consumers would be willing to engage in remotely conducted clinical trials. The COVID pandemic has accelerated some behavioural changes. In non-pandemic situation, those behavioural changes are taking longer and request significant effort in terms of awareness and education  

This pandemic has brought major challenges and has impacted all aspects of our life but those challenges are generating huge opportunities as COVID has been a digital enabler, ecosystem facilitator and behavioural changes accelerator.

One important opportunity, relevant for the FemTech sector, is the comorbidities associated with COVID. Isma has been interacting with some key opinion leaders in mental health, who mentioned that some evidence data shows how women are more vulnerable to mental health issues related to COVID (particularly women who are pregnant, post-partum, miscarrying or women experiencing intimate partner violence). Also, according to Dr. Thatiane De Oliveira Sergio, who led a recent study at the university of Indiana, anxiety disorders occur in twice as often in women than men, and social and cultural factors likely play an important role in the development of anxiety in females.

We asked over 180 participants of the Tech4Eva Zurich Roadshow to share their perspective regarding the 4 global top health issues. The issue related to data is considered as the most impactful and it is followed by clinical trials.

According to the Global FemTech market report published by BIS Research in 2020, an increasing number of data-driven solutions have been used for female-targeted applications including period and fertility monitoring, pregnancy care, sexual wellness and menstruation tracking. A Swiss example is the Ava bracelet, an innovative FemTech solution in fertility tracking. The Ava bracelet comprises in-built sensors that track vital signs such as perfusion, breathing rate, skin temperature, heart rate variability ratio, and resting pulse rates.The data is collected overnight and is synced with the associated application for analysis and prediction of the fertility window.  

How about the use of AI in FemTech?

Most FemTech start-ups are integrating artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) to their digital and connected devices. AI/ML is expected to drive the FemTech global market and facilitates the adoption of FemTech through user-friendly and intuitive FemTech solutions.

Also, the participants have shared their own perspectives on the main issues that will shape healthcare.Major responses are around cost, aging, data, equality and privacy.

And finally, an interesting question was raised regarding the appetite of women to use and adopt new technologies in healthcare and the answer is positive, given that one of the FemTech drivers is the explosion of consumer-driven wearables and smart solutions used by women. The higher adoption of wearables among women is explained by well-being focus and awareness and the need to better manage chronic diseases.

Let’s not forget that most FemTech solutions are getting their proof of concepts validated in the consumer sector. Therefore, FemTech is mostly driven by consumer trends and behaviours which facilitate the deployment and adoption of tech/digital solutions.

Written by Isma Hachi - Senior Manager Life Sciences, PwC Switzerland

Isma Hachi is Senior Manager at PwC. Throughout her professional career, she assisted Pharma and health clients in the USA and Europe with the development of innovative business models towards an ecosystem building approach. She has a major interest and passion in personalised health by advocating a holistic approach driven by 3Ps (Patients, Providers, Payers), data, behaviour changes and digital transformation. She supported her clients with the assessment of opportunities in the FemTech industry, a trend that will democratise women personalised health beyond fertility.

About PwC

The purpose of PwC is to build trust in society and solve important problems. They're a network of firms in 157 countries with over 276,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. PwC Switzerland has over 3,300 employees and partners in 14 locations in Switzerland and one in the Principality of Liechtenstein. Find out more by visiting www.pwc.ch.

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