Digital Health’s Next Frontier: Women’s Health

Digital health is helping out during the COVID-19 pandemic—can it now make a difference in women’s health?

Daphne Allen

November 5, 2020

3 Min Read
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Digital health technologies have seen adoption grow this past year during the push for new solutions to treat and manage COVID-19. Now the next frontier for digital health could be in women’s health, and speakers at an upcoming event will explore how digital health could help improve health equity, among other digital health topics.

“We’ve talked about digital health for a long time, and today everyone knows what it is, but there was still a hesitancy to fully embrace it—until COVID-19,” Luba Greenwood, senior lecturer at Harvard University and former head of strategic business development at Verily (Google Life Sciences), tells MD+DI. “Until COVID, there were just a bunch of pilots. Now, we’re no longer in pilot mode.”

Greenwood sees digital health’s potential for women’s health, which she describes as an under-served sector. Women make up the biggest group of purchasers and decision-makers when it comes to healthcare, she noted. “Women also live longer. But at the same time, there are a lack of products for women.” She adds that healthcare for women involves much more than managing pregnancy or menopause. Women have unique needs when it comes to cardiology, for instance. “Women present heart attacks in different ways,” she says.

Researchers are also discovering that disease isn’t just based on “genomics—it is also the sex of cells,” she adds. Treatment can therefore be “personalized based on cell sex.”

Digital health technologies may help tailor care to women. “Digital health is all about personalization—it improves outcomes and lowers cost because it personalizes medicine to the patient,” she said.

Greenwood will be discussing such potential and more during a panel discussion at MedExecWomen’s virtual fall forum, “At the Cutting Edge of Digital Health” on Tuesday, November 10, from 4-6pm. Event registration is at Joining her during the panel discussion will be Jodi Eddy, SVP, Chief Information and Digital Officer, Boston Scientific Corporation; and Anjana Harve, Senior VP & CIO, Fresenius Medical Care NA.

The discussion will be moderated by Maria Shepherd, president, Medi-Vantage, and co-founder of MedExecWomen, and will cover the roles medtech and digital health companies can play in the shift to virtual care, trends in delayed elective procedures during the pandemic, opportunities for monetizing digital health data, ideas for improving patient engagement and patient care, and digital health’s role and opportunity for improving/maintaining health equity.

“In the future all medical devices will have a digital component. Bringing together an expert panel like we have and companies such as Boston Scientific and Fresenius will offer the audience insights into the trends that digital health will bring to medical devices,” Shepherd told MD+DI.

Greenwood believes “there is an enormous opportunity in the digitization of things.” During the discussion she will review digital health developments that emerged during COVID and then examine other health areas ripe for change, such as women’s health. She shares with MD+DI a few of the developments that have transpired during the pandemic. “First, there’s been a willingness of key stakeholders to drive forward innovation. Second, patients’ attitudes have changed—now everyone is an expert, asking how accurate something is, such as, ‘What is this test going to tell me?’ People never had these conversations before outside the diagnostics industry. We also thought we’d see growth in point-of-care testing, but now patients want tests sent to their houses, at pharmacies, at schools. We are already seeing availability of tests outside hospitals and labs.”

Greenwood will discuss these topics with Eddy of Boston Scientific and Harve of Fresenius in the panel discussion “At the Cutting Edge of Digital Health” on Tuesday, November 10, from 4-6pm.

About the Author(s)

Daphne Allen

Daphne Allen is editor-in-chief of Design News. She previously served as editor-in-chief of MD+DI and of Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News and also served as an editor for Packaging Digest. Daphne has covered design, manufacturing, materials, packaging, labeling, and regulatory issues for more than 20 years. She has also presented on these topics in several webinars and conferences, most recently discussing design and engineering trends at IME West 2024 and leading an Industry ShopTalk discussion during the show on artificial intelligence.

Follow Daphne on X at @daphneallen and reach her at [email protected].

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