Med Tech

Understanding Femtech Startups in India

Despite there being progress in improving Women’s Health concerns, a large population of women still face problems when it comes to accessing healthcare resources. 

In India, having open conversations about menstruation and women’s health issues is still considered taboo especially in rural India or in orthodox patriarchal families. Women are asked to keep these health issues under wraps and not talk about it to men or doctors. There is even the stigma of most gynecologists being men which makes women hesitant to talk about their problems or examining their bodies.

The resistance towards the discussion of these issues in the public sphere has a negative impact as it can lead to women being unaware of certain irregularities happening in their bodies. Thus causing them to neglect it till the disease or anomaly reaches its malignant stage.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for a robust healthcare system and brought about a resurgence of the Indian startup ecosystem as several entrepreneurs ventured into the healthtech space. Online telemedicine startups were able to provide doctor consultations and e-pharmacy options from a single platform. These startups also include various femtech industries which refers to software, products and services, diagnostic tools that use technology to support a woman’s health.

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The term ‘femtech’ was given by Ida Tin, the founder of Clue, a period tracking app. Some of the innovations of femtech include menstruation products, fertility and birth control, pelvic health, chronic conditions, pregnancy, sexual wellness and general healthcare. However, Femtech startups in general are still considered nascent in a developing country like India. This could be due to: 

  1. Reluctance of Investors: Indian investors are reluctant to fund femtech startups as they perceive it to be a niche business serving a small market. Also, the investor community is dominated by males, who are unwilling to talk and understand about women’s health issues and solutions. 
  2. Cybersecurity concerns: Since femtech is about technology and apps, it poses a high risk of being vulnerable to cyberattackers exposing the details of users. 
  3. Low Awareness: Low awareness in women about solutions that can ease the pain points of women is also a reason for its infancy.

Femtech’s growth can occur through talking more about women’s health issues, implementing wearables, understanding the convenience of remote healthcare and making healthcare accessible to rural areas. Increasing awareness, popularity and availability of these technology options and encouraging their adoption can take the Indian femtech industry to the next level.

Current Femtech Startups in India

NIRAMAI: Bengaluru-based NIRAMAI Health Analytix founded by Dr Geetha Manjunath and Nidhi Mathur uses Thermalytix is an AI-based, radiation-free breast cancer screening solution which has also received CE mark approval, ISO 13485, and MDSAP (Medical Device Single Audit Programme) International Certifications. It uses machine learning algorithms for detecting breast cancer and growth abnormalities in women. 

Say Cheese: Founded by Rajpreet Kaur in 2020 in Mumbai SayCheese is a women’s happiness centric platform that assists women to tackle challenges across careers, relationships and health. It provides a Happiness Evaluation Report through proper assessment tools and enables women to stay healthy and focused. Their values include secret RECIPE (R- Resilience, E- Excellence, C- Creativity, I- Integrity, P-Persistence, E- Empathy).

Celes Care: Celes Care is a virtual Health Clinic for women’s health that was founded by Raghu Bathina and Dr Rajah Koppala in 2015. This startup aims to offer medical guidance and information to women through their female doctors specialised in infertility, pregnancy, thyroid, PCOS, weight control, skincare, etc.

CervAstra: Cervical cancer goes unnoticed by many women and results in a high mortality rate. CervAstra is an AI-powered medtech company that detects cervical cancer. It analyses pap smear samples to detect abnormalities in a short turnaround time. The instruments used for detection are portable and will enable women to walk into the nearest primary health centre, get screened and receive reports.

Care Mother: A home-based pregnancy care solution developed by CareNx, CareMother offers personalised healthcare to pregnant women at home by connecting with gynecologists and providing at-door medical tests with a portable medical kit. 

Femtech startups in India have a lot of potential to expand by foraying into the LGBTQ space to offer mental health and medical assistance to individuals who have undergone a recent gender change operation. These startups can also develop vernacular content and a strong network that can provide care to the rural areas as well. The need of the hour is for investors to back such innovative ideas and bring the Indian femtech industry at par with its global counterparts.

Author: Parvathi Nair

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