Welcome to “A Healthusiasm World”, a newsletter by Christophe Jauquet on the latest healthcare and self-care trends impacting all types of industries.
Discover how both healthcare and consumer companies are experience-driven health businesses now.
Learn what's next for customer experience, purpose-driven marketing and digital health.
Be inspired to design the most engaging health experiences yourself.
Christophe Jauquet (He/Him/His)
_____ I am a man. I certainly can’t speak for women. I’m also not a FemTech expert of any sort. Yet, I do have a bit of experience in women’s health. For those who know me well, … No, I’m not particularly talking about my feminine side. J I’m talking about how I’ve been involved in the women’s health market for over a decade: I have worked for several pharmaceutical companies and some start-ups in the women’s health space. For a couple of years, a portfolio of contraceptive pills was even under my management. In a sense, this isn’t worth much anymore. Because everything is changing, and it’s fascinating to see the fantastic evolution the women’s health market is undergoing. But I’m even more intrigued about how this particular market segment influences how we will experience health in the future. Because yes, what we see happening by these Femtech companies in the women’s health space is altering healthcare management entirely. _____
Here’s how women shake up the healthcare system, and rightfully so
Women’s health has long been a taboo topic that no one really wanted to talk about, not even women themselves. For centuries much of women’s pain was reduced to hormone-related issues. And often, females themselves were considered to lack understanding of their own physical states. Seven years ago, that was also the overall conclusion from in-depth research I conducted on the health behaviour of women. The study researched how women in general deal with their health and hormones throughout their lifetime. The strategic conclusion, which usually would take up about ten power slides, was this time around synthesised into only one short sentence: “Women are used to enduring hardship because it’s part of being a woman.” My recommendation was to help women with that reality before anything else.
The female body
In our society, women’s bodies have long been viewed as “weaker” than men’s. Women also have poorer self-rated health than men. But perhaps their bodies are just fundamentally more complex. Women menstruate, give birth to tiny humans and lactate. These and other ‘changes’ inside the body can impact a life heavily. Take menopause, for example: Women going through menopause may experience up to 34 different symptoms, which can vary from fatigue, mood changes, sleep disturbances to a decreased libido and many others. The onset of menopause may also increase the risk of other severe health conditions, including osteoporosis, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Although all of these can dramatically impact the quality of life of women, medical providers can hardly ever answer their concerns and questions. In fact, research by start-up Gennev reported that 94% of women don’t get enough support to manage the side effects of menopause.
The non-female-friendly environment
Value-oriented care may have increased the focus on the patient in recent years. But since healthcare has been arguably male-dominated for a long time (and perhaps still is), it hasn't contributed much to the right solutions for women. Little wonder that 1 in 3 women do not even trust the health industry, according to a 26-market study by Edelman.
A similar conclusion can be made regarding the investment in digital health solutions for women. Since 2011 only 3% of the digital health deals in the US have been focused on women’s health. Even in 2019, Femtech received no more than 3.3% of the total investments in digital health (RockHealth, 2020). Digital tools specific to women have been a niche category with only a little attention or interest. Unrightfully so. That’s why things are slowly changing in ways that will impact the entire healthcare industry… even beyond women’s health
Things are changing
Driven by female entrepreneurs, new initiatives are now successfully being launched and scaled. They provide experiences that meet the expectations of women more than ever before. They consider what’s essential in their lives to offer even more value. On top of that, these solutions don’t have a single focus. They expand into related areas and “treat” women… as we all would love to be treated: as a whole person.
In the following three segments, I’ll try to showcase with different examples how women’s health is turning into the epitome of healthcare. Each part stands firm, but it’s the combination of all three that marks the end of healthcare as we know it.
1. Delivering a better experience
In the “Healthusiasm” book, I elaborate on what makes valuable health experiences: It simply requires meeting your customers' expectations. These are expectations that are primarily driven by the experiences in other parts of their lives. When people are happily accustomed to the convenience of Amazon, they start expecting it in other parts of their lives as well. These expectations may even have little or nothing to do with their actual need. Expectations are more about ‘how’ you want something, not ‘what’ you want.
In this way, I’ve identified 12 different expectations that make health experiences more desirable for customers. I believe these expectations to be a very critical part of the engagement with healthcare solutions. But it’s something that the healthcare industry has long overlooked. The sector often assumed the need (for a medical solution) to be big enough that not many efforts were invested into how the solution should be provided. When there was a lack of adherence, the patients themselves were considered not being engaged enough. But that fact of the matter is that patients are engaged! They may just not be engaged with your solution because it did not meet their expectations.
Start-up companies in the women’s health segments have understood women’s expectations very well. They have redefined how women navigate each area of their health by carefully applying one or more of the 12 Healthusiastic expectations. Let’s look at some examples like the New York-based Maven Clinic. This women’s clinic may seem to offer the traditional medical services for pregnant women and new moms. Still, they actually do it with the same convenience as Skype: video appointments and private messaging with a widespread network of family and women’s health practitioners. Of course, this telehealth solution may sound evident in the post-covid era now, but they have been doing this for almost eight years. Another medical centre for women only, called Tia, meets that same convenience for their services. With a monthly subscription, they even allow women to access their personal health assistance anytime and anywhere. In fact, Tia is building a new on-demand model of care for women, much like Netflix has built a new subscription model for on-demand streaming services. But it doesn’t stop here. Just like Deliveroo transformed the food and restaurant industry, Nurx is bringing prescription-based birth control right to the doorstep as well. Lola is even turning this home delivery into a recurring delivery. For young women who experience their period for the first time, they provide a starter kit that includes a free digital guide, complete with expert tips and icebreakers.
Each of these (and other) start-ups bring experiences that improve the overall engagement with health, often in ways that previously was unheard of (in a medical setting). You can expect that customers and patients will now demand these experiences in any other healthcare setting as well. Femtech is leading the way into how healthcare is experienced. It’s set the tone. But it does not stop here…
2. Considering what’s important in life
In the outside world - outside the healthcare industry, that is - it becomes difficult to differentiate from competitors. Expectations are increasingly being met with a wide variety of digital tools. As I like to talk about in my keynotes, it has become tough to differentiate based on experience only. If you want to create value for your customers today, it’s essential to consider what is vital in their lives. You need to create an experience that makes the customers feel better, healthier, and why not even intrinsically happier. As you transform the customer in this way, these experiences are called customer transformations. And these transformations are turning into the main point of differentiation between competitors.
This approach necessitates looking beyond the mere touchpoints with your product, service or company. It demands understanding what is essential in the lives of your customers. Today, you’ll discover that this is often related to people's personal aspirations: How does someone want to develop themselves and become a better person. For non-healthcare companies, this can be a hard nut to crack, but some manage this very well. Nike, for example, launched the (Cycle)Sync workout collection on the Nike Training Club App. It was designed to make women feel at their best in every phase of their menstrual cycle and includes workouts, nutrition advice, and expert tips adapted to each of its different phases.
Meeting the life aspirations of customers should be an easy fit for healthcare organisations or providers, but this aspect is often overlooked by the system as well. It is too quickly assumed that people just want to “have something bad removed”. But aspirations are about how to become the best possible version of yourself. It’s not just about going from sick to healthy. It’s about wanting to be as healthy as possible, whether or not being sick.
Again, Femtech has understood these aspirations very well. That’s why Maven Clinic also offers career coaching for newly mums. And Lola, a feminine care company, opened up a hotline to normalise and destigmatise sex and sexual health conversations. A trendy American telehealth company called Hers takes it even one step further. They aspire women to feel healthy and confident in their own skin, on their terms, with flaws and all. It’s about the freedom of being a woman without backing down from the unmentionables that might come along with it.
Aren’t these aspirations every human being somehow desires to develop? It sure will create more engagement with your customer if you include these aspirations into your value proposition. That’s precisely what these Femtech companies are achieving. And there is no turning back now. People increasingly aspire to become healthier and happier. More and more, they are looking into solutions that help them achieve those aspirations. And healthcare providers will need to make those aspirations part of their offering if they want customers to engage to the fullest with their solutions.
3. Providing a holistic approach
I’m not much of a fan of using the word ‘Holistic’ because it has become a buzzword. It’s overused and often unrightfully so. But this third way in which women’s health is transforming healthcare couldn’t be better described than with this word. This time around, it is not about overly ambitious companies trying to attract attention. Not at all! In fact, the word Holistic is not even mentioned on the websites of these Femtech companies. But they do realise that women are not only occupied with one single disease or condition. These women want to manage their overall health in the care experience they are seeking.
“What does optimal health mean to you?” With this question, Tia unpacks the unique goals a patient has for their care journey. This question permits Tia to support women along a journey that most likely will go beyond one condition. Because the company does not only want to treat a patient's disease. They want to set women up for better success. It’s the broader patient narrative they are interested in. This holistic view on care will define the personal experience, include life aspirations, and promote overall health. This care plan will contain daily, weekly and monthly activities to optimise one’s health. And similar to a personal trainer, the Tia care team will meet with them frequently to assess progress and ongoing needs.
The companies mentioned in the other segments comply with that same vision. Maven Clinic assists women before, during and after their pregnancy on every aspect of that journey, ranging from family planning and pregnancy through postpartum to surrogacy or career coaching. They employ back-to-work or sleep coaches, relationship consultants, and mental health therapists alongside 25 other types of specialised medical and wellness providers—all working on every aspect of the pregnancy journey. Menopause company Gennev also presents a broad range of services specialising in gynaecology, primary care and lifestyle behaviours. At the same time, they are also delivering natural wellness products and supplements for your overall health and lifestyle when dealing with menopause. Hers, then again, insists on providing healthcare that feels like self-care by combining medical with health, wellbeing and lifestyle solutions. Finally, Nurx, the women’s health expert specialised in-home delivery, claims to be on a mission to transform healthcare. Because transforming healthcare is welcomed.
For the past 170 years, our healthcare system has been focused on solving acute diseases. We developed a medical system to eradicate these diseases. It’s a fragmented approach. And because of the ever-growing medical knowledge, the healthcare system is becoming even more fragmented. It leads to poor patient experience, clinical mistakes and rising costs. But this science-driven approach does not strike with how we feel as human beings. We don’t feel fragmented. It leaves the patient confused because, after all, we are one whole person. Today, the holistic way women are “treated” by these Femtech companies is a real game-changer. It changes the game for the rest of the healthcare system. It simply cannot be ignored.
This newsletter should apply to you whether you are a healthcare provider treating patients, a project manager working on patient services in a pharma company, or a marketeer integrating health in consumer strategies. It shows how a target group with their needs underserved - since forever - is making amends themselves now. Female entrepreneurs created businesses from what it feels like being a woman. They did not start from science, literature or a disease-specific approach first. They started from the human being and what optimal health would look like for them. Sure, that optimal health might contain some medical needs related to a patient situation. But let’s not just treat that need. We also must consider the personal expectations and the life aspirations of those people. And by being a bit more holistic, we can even help them engage in their overall health and the lives they want to live. Because the way we live our lives are the ways we build our health. That’s how Femtech companies are successfully serving women today. That’s how the healthcare system will inevitably change in the years to come.
Not sure how to get started with this? Luckily, we do.
If these examples teach us one thing, it’s that the world is changing; even so is the way we manage our health & happiness: The customers are changing, the context is changing, and competitors are changing. So, you may ask yourself “what are the (future) changes that impact my business?”
This might not always be easy to answer while you are running your business. That’s where we come in: we study customer behaviours, make macro trends meaningful for your business and scan the innovations by (un)known competitors. That’s all you need to get started. The next step is to change the culture and design creative concepts. And yep, also there, we can help you to take the next step. Want to know more? Hit the reply button or book a 15-min call via this link. Talk soon,
Health Experience Expert
International speaker on the (future) changes in health & self-care
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