Technology has made an impact on every field. And Healthcare is no exception. Advances in medical technology have proven to be a game-changer in the health sector. But is the case same when Women healthcare comes to mind? It will not be less than a shock to learn that Women were not included in medical research and clinical trials until 1993. In the USA, Cardiovascular disease is the main reason for the deaths of women. Yet in CVD trials, only one-third of the subjects are women. Even when the subject of the trials is animal, sex of the animal is not identified in 66% of cases. But why are we focusing on sex-based trials? Because the Metabolism of men and women work differently. The same dosage of drugs acts differently on men and women.
Women are the center of the family. They are the producers of environmental hygiene. They present different roles in different places. This is why mainstreaming the women healthcare is indispensable. Enhancing the general status of women will benefit society as a whole.
In order to achieve this focus should be on enhancing sex-based research, promoting transparency and equal status to women in clinical care and training.
Major pharmaceuticals on their discussion to improve women healthcare addressing their specific needs did inject a boost into the quest for the better women healthcare system. Although recent activities in the field have given us hope but this isn’t a silver spoon on the platter.
With recent approvals by FDA for AbbVie’s endometriosis pain-reducing drug, Natural Cycle’s fertility tracking app, new start-ups coming up with advanced ideas for women health, technology is going to transform the future of women’s healthcare. Currently, Y Combinator leads with 15 investments in women’s health start-ups looking at last 5-years. This profound interest in improving women healthcare could also due to the hike in funding in this area. Last year saw a huge hike of around USD 500 Million as compared to 2013. Rael, which offers a line of period care products along with other wellness products, raised a USD 17.5 Million Series A in September. And thus we can expect the Women’s healthcare market to grow over USD 50 Billion by 2025 globally. Although the majority of deals are still in the early stages of development showcasing the immaturity of the emerging market.
Let us have a look at the wide range of technologies aimed at improving the quality of women life.
In the cause of Cancer
Breast Cancer is the most prevalent type of Cancer in women contracting one in eight US women at some point of life. Mammography used to detect it misses an awful number of cases with many times resulting in false positive results.
Looking at the current inability of the present diagnostic method researchers at the University of Michigan started on developing a pill when swallowed can illuminate the Cancerous cells if exposed to Infra-red light. This further can help in revealing the type of cancer present-metastatic or benign. The Amulet, which is a Digital Mammography System created by combining FujiFilm’s Device Development Technology and Vacuum Deposition Technology, which will help in early detection of Breast Cancer as it captures high resolution and lower noise image electrical signals. Beyond the shock, a mobile app equipped with stories of survivors and can help to provide the affected women a better understanding and moral support.
Researchers at Lehigh University developed an AI algorithm to help recognize cervical dysplasia, which will help in an easy screening of cervical cancer.
But will this be enough? What about other prevalent forms of Cancer that are haunting Women since ages?
Maternal Care is not something to be overlooked
Number of Deaths due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth is something which cannot be ignored. African and South Asian Countries have relatively higher Maternal Mortality Rate. Why so? Because the technology to prevent these deaths does exist but in developed countries. Most of these deaths could have been prevented if those women had better access to healthcare. We do have companies like Sera Prognostics which are developing diagnostic tests to detect pregnancy-related complications. Researchers at Purdue University came up with an idea of using sensors to detect the complication in a pregnant woman or her unborn child. A complication called preeclampsia, caused by high blood pressure can cause grave problems like organ failure or premature birth. Wearable sensors can radically reduce the number of prenatal deaths as well as maternal mortality.
A team of GE engineers in China designed an inexpensive, portable version of PORTABLE ultrasound which can be accessed using a laptop with special attachments and software. This will prove beneficial not only for maternal care but also for emergency healthcare, biopsies, and regional anesthesia.
Developing inexpensive devices and making them accessible to the needy are two different aspects which require handling. The approval from the Government, the cost factor and the success rate still poses a
Mostly every woman faces different types of discomforts during her Periods. A recent study by the Institute of Complementary and Integrative Medicine in Switzerland has shown that acupressure can help in relieving those symptoms to a great extent. An app called AKUD helps in relieving period pain by self-assisted and guided acupressure.
Even when companies are being generous enough to provide comfort to ladies during their periods but the Social stigma behind still lures in the back of mind.
So far women are being under-represented in the world of technology. But the trend has changed now. Women are no more second class citizen in the healthcare industry.
Digital-health sure did help in achieving the unachievable.