Tlalit Bussi Tel Tzure is the Vice President of Business Development and Global Marketing for the Medical Device Company, IceCure Medical.
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 organizations 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.
Professional medical associations, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in the U.S. and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK, have set out to improve information dissemination and to support informed choices for all girls and women. 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 hospitalization 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.
For breast cancer patients, we have seen increasing adoption of ProSense™, a tumor-freezing (cryoablation) solution developed by my company that enables faster treatment to destroy tumors in the physician’s office, without scarring or changes in breast shape. Many more solutions are out there, such as Medtronic’s TruClear™ system for in-office uterine fibroid and polyp removal, and I envisage these will be increasingly sought out by women and professionals alike.
3. More personalized 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 personalized 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. The Israeli startup OsteoSee is developing a solution to enable osteoporosis screening, diagnosis and monitoring to be done for the first time at home. MobileODT’s artificial intelligence-driven solution to assess cervical cancer at the point-of-care will revolutionize access to much-needed screening.
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. Fueled 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.
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