Today is International Women’s Day — and women have an unfair share of representation in healthcare. While the global income of women was estimated to be worth $18 trillion in 2018 and women drive or influence more than 70 percent of all consumer spending, only 4 percent of all the funding for research and development for healthcare products and services in the world is invested in women’s health.
Women are also highly under-represented in clinical trials for chronic conditions. Only 35 percent of the participants in clinical trials around cardiovascular disorders are women, and 25 percent of trials report gender-specific results. But researchers identified gender differences in how bodies respond to cardiac medications.
“In the era of personalized medicine, gender bias for clinical studies highlights the lack of importance of gender in the research field of the healthcare industry,” wrote Reenita Das, senior vice president of Frost & Sullivan Transformational Healthcare.
But lately, more startups and companies are looking to use digital health to improve women’s health and to create female technology.
In the U.S., female technology is expected to become a $50 billion market by 2025, and many companies are focusing on applications that are relevant for conditions like breast cancer and cervical cancer.
Tech can truly help women. VRHealth, for instance, has conducted a clinical study where virtual reality reduced hot flashes and night sweats in women suffering from breast cancer.
And while women account for 80 percent of healthcare decision making and make up 70 percent of the healthcare workforce, they only occupy about 35 percent of leadership roles and just 13 percent of healthcare CEOs.
But there are many women in health information technology (IT) that have been making a difference in the industry.
Take Lygeia Ricciardi, chief transformation officer at Carium, who received an award for Most Influential Women in Health IT at HIMSS 2019.
“The award gives me a platform to encourage other women and to educate both women and men about how we can achieve greater diversity, especially among leadership in health IT,” Ricciardi wrote.
And Bridget Duffy, M.D., chief medical officer at Vocera, is seeking more representation by women at speaking events, and advancing the diversity in the field.
Geeta Nayyar, M.D., MBA, has been a pioneer in health IT and has been named one of the top 26 smartest people in health IT.
Although there is a clear gap in power and representation in the industry, women like Ricciardi, Duffy and Nayyar have paved the way to create significant change. Thanks to them, it might only be a matter of time until things change.
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