During this session, investors and business leaders discussed the future of women-focused care and the exciting opportunities in the rapidly growing sector of women/women+ health.
- Ashley Antler, Former Vice President, Legal and Head of Regulatory Affairs, SimpleHealth
- Kim Boyd, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Caire
- Jessica Federer, Managing Partner, Supernode Ventures
- Caroline Reignley, Partner, McDermott Will & Emery
- Moderator: Stacey Callaghan, Partner, McDermott Will & Emery
Top takeaways included:
- Women’s health has historically been an under-resourced and underserved area of health. It wasn’t until 1993 that Congress required women and minorities to be included in clinical research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Centering men in clinical research and medical education has led to a real lack of understanding of how diseases affect women, and the healthcare system has not been built to account for the differences between men’s and women’s health.
- We are finally seeing research and data that is prompting developments and investments in women’s health. The 1993 NIH policy change kicked off the collection of data on women’s health—and 30 years later, that data is finally informing the development of new therapeutics and digital health solutions, as well as building awareness of the need for patient engagement, support and relevant platforms. Now that the therapeutics and digital solutions can be built, investments are needed to help women’s health companies and solutions come to market.
- Women’s health is much broader than fertility and menopause. For example, 80% of autoimmune patients and two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients are women, and women have significantly worse outcomes than men in the year following a heart attack. Neurological health, cardiology, mental health, autoimmune conditions and gastroenterology are all areas ripe for women’s health solutions and investments.
- Women’s health can be both mission-driven and business-driven. As the business case for fertility solutions has exploded, there is hope that the business case will be seen for other areas of women’s health. The business case for women’s health is simple: women make the majority of healthcare buying decisions in the United States. With the explosion of fertility businesses, investors are starting to realize that women’s health is not just impact investing—there is, in fact, real money to be made in the women’s health space. There are opportunities in new therapeutics and digital solutions, including digital add-ons to existing platforms and brick-and-mortar operations. At the same time, companies and employers are realizing that investing in women’s health solutions is a smart business decision; when women lack access to the care they need, there is a tangible impact on workforce productivity.
- Given the constrained capital market, digital health companies in the women’s health space are facing challenges similar to those of other digital health companies, while also facing unique regulatory pressures and concerns. For example, there are real concerns that there will be an attack on access to contraception. These regulatory fears can chill investment in a tight market, having an impact on investors and innovators who are otherwise willing to enter or take a risk on the space. At the same time, there is enormous opportunity for digital companies to address access issues.
- The Dobbs decision has had an enormous impact on women and their providers, as well as a chilling effect on innovation and investment in the women’s health space. At the same time, it has mobilized women and shone a light on the need for women’s healthcare and solutions.