Posted: 05 Oct. 2023 5 min. read

Can FemTech help bridge a gender-equity gap in health care?

By Sheryl Jacobson, US Consulting Medtech Practice leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Jen Radin, US Health Care Advisory Sector leader, Deloitte and Touche

Women are an average of 4.5 years older than men by the time they are diagnosed with many of the same diseases. And in cases of cancer, men are diagnosed an average of 2.5 years earlier than women, according to a study of nearly 7 million people.1 Another study found that middle-aged women who have symptoms of heart disease are twice as likely as men to be misdiagnosed.2

Although there are nearly 4 billion of us worldwide,3 women’s health is often viewed a niche market.4 The growth of FemTech could alter that perspective.

The term FemTech (female technology) was coined in 2016 to help drive innovation, attract investment, and normalize conversations about female health.5 It refers to diagnostic tools, products, services, wearables, and software that use technology to address health issues that affect women solely, differently, or disproportionately. This includes everything from pregnancy and menopause to cancer and cardiovascular disease.6 The global FemTech market accounted for $40.2 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $75 billion by 2025, according to one estimate.7 Another estimate suggests the FemTech market could reach $1 trillion by 2027.8 At this point, more than one-third of the FemTech market is focused on nursing, reproductive health, contraception, and subsectors.9

Women spend $15 billion more than men on OOP health expenses

Health conditions that are unique to women (or more prone to affect women) tend to have higher out-of-pocket costs, which can create a barrier to accessing necessary care. Even after excluding maternity claims, women still spend an average of 18% more on out-of-pocket medical costs than men, according to an actuarial analysis from Deloitte (see Hiding in plain sight: The health care gender toll). That translates to about $15.4 billion a year in additional out-of-pocket spending. Moreover, while women have 33% more doctor visits than men, just 4% of medical research is specific to women, and half of that research is in oncology. In other words, just 2% of non-cancer medical research is focused on women’s health (see An economic case for a more women-centric health care system).

Investors are beginning to acknowledge women’s health

Since the beginning of the year, we have been having more and deeper conversations with health care leaders and medtech executives about women’s health and the potential for FemTech devices and services (see Sheryl’s February blog, Digital Medtech, FemTech, GeriTech among topics at J.P. Morgan). Last spring, for example, Mass General Brigham health system announced the launch of a comprehensive women’s health portfolio that will address the specific health care needs of women by expanding access to appropriate care and support, while advancing health equity.10 Several years ago, Northwell Health launched the Katz Institute for Women’s Health, a holistic center focused on women’s health throughout their lifecycle. The Institute integrates the various clinical service lines (including cardiology, endocrinology, and gastroenterology) to meet women’s’ health needs.11 The Institute’s Center for Maternal Health takes a “360-degree approach” to improving maternal care and focuses on reducing health disparities among birthing persons.12

Our colleague Karen Taylor, director of the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions in the United Kingdom, recently noted that just 1.4% of capital investment is in FemTech. In a recent blog, she explained that male investors often shy away from talking about women’s health, or they simply don’t understand the value proposition. In 2021, almost 90% of investment decisions were made by men. Consequently, most FemTech companies might not have the investment they need to function effectively, she wrote (see Why investing in FemTech will guarantee a healthier future for all women).

Among larger medtech companies, FemTech is often seen as being too niche. However, we have generally been seeing growing interest among venture capital investors and start-up companies. Some start-ups have been able to acquire venture funding for FemTech because they have recognized a gap in the market. Eventually, some of those start-ups could be acquired by the larger medtech companies or other stakeholders.

Removing gender biases could require an ecosystem

A survey from Gennev—a telehealth service for menopause—found that 99% of women in the U.S. don’t have access to employer-sponsored menopause care benefits. Moreover, 22 million women living in the U.S. cannot afford access to basic menstrual products, rendering sometimes expensive FemTech products and services largely inaccessible.13 Symptoms specific to women can be more difficult for clinicians to recognize due to an ingrained gender-agnostic approach to medicine.14

FemTech could help fill some of the gaps in women’s health and wellness that have historically been overlooked. But removing gender biases in health care will likely require an ecosystem approach. Here are a few examples of FemTech companies that are working to help bridge the gender gap:

  • Digital platforms: Some companies are emphasizing education, 1-on-1 support, telemedicine, and a community approach for removing gender inequities in health care. On its website, Elektra Health notes that menopause in the U.S. is “shrouded in stigma, shame, and secrecy.” The start-up has developed a digital health platform to help women navigate the 10-year menopause transition.15 Last October, Elektra announced that its services would be made available to employees at EmblemHealth, a not-for-profit health plan that serves New York.16
  • Behavioral health: Many women feel uncomfortable talking about mental and personal health challenges in the workplace, according to Deloitte Global’s Women at Work report. A digital solution could help remove that barrier and improve access. For example, Curio Digital Therapeutic, a Princeton-based digital health company, has developed cognitive behavioral therapy programs specific for women. The company says it is working to “destigmatize mental health and can help change the trajectory of women’s behavioral health outcomes across their lifestyle.”17
  • Virtual health: Last spring, Maven Clinic was named one of the 50 most innovative companies of 2023, by Fast Company. The virtual health care company offers everything from OB/GYN care to egg freezing and lactation consultations to family planning and postpartum care. Last year, it added a program for menopause-related care.18 The company recently announced that it had partnered with Amazon to provide employees with free access to fertility doctors, gynecologists, adoption coaches, mental health providers, obstetricians, nutritionists and other providers through Maven's platform.19
  • Wearable devices and apps: A wide range of FemTech companies have developed devices and apps to help women track their menstrual cycles, track fertility, and access convenient and discreet birth control options.20

Can FemTech help remove gender inequities?

Gender inequities in health care is an endemic issue that has likely existed since the beginning of time. Even in 2023, women are far more likely than men to be misdiagnosed or receive a diagnosis years later than men. This disparity underscores the need for a better understanding and awareness of gender-specific symptoms, as well as unbiased medical evaluations, to help ensure appropriate treatment. We are optimistic that the gender gap can be closed, and the FemTech market could play a key role.


Jane Makhoul, Carissa Clark, Kayla Smith


1Women are diagnosed years later than men for same diseases, study finds, NBC News, March 25, 2019

2Heart disease in women: Unsuspected? Overlooked? Ignored?, Mayo Clinic Press, February 2, 2022

3World Population Day, United Nations, July 11, 2023

4Women’s health ‘missing out’ because of male-dominated investment, Financial Times, February 12, 2023

5Breaking down barriers: How FemTech is improving women’s health, Forbes, June 29, 2023

6FemTech founder: An Interview with Clue CEO, Ida Tin, FemTech Live, February 11, 2021

7FemTech market overview, FemTech Analytics, 2023

8Meet the woman who invented a whole new subsection of tech set to be worth $1 trillion, March 6, 2023

9FemTech Industry landscape, FemTech Analytics, August 2022

10Mass General Brigham Health Plan announces launch of comprehensive women’s health portfolio, Mass General Brigham press release, May 24, 2023

11Katz Institute for Women's Health, Northwell Health

12Center for Maternal Health, Northwell Health

13Menopause care is largely untapped and ripe for innovation, Fierce Healthcare, June 28, 2023

14The long history of gender bias in medicine, Time, June 17, 2021

15Elektra Health

16Elektra Health teams up with EmblemHealth, press release, October 2022

17Curio Digital Therapeutics

18Why Maven Clinic is the highest-valued startup in women’s health, Fast Company, March 2, 2023

19Maven Clinic, Amazon partner to offer women's health care to Amazon employees, Mobihealth News, August 8, 2023

20Phexxi, Carrot Fertility, Flo pregnancy app

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