How Technology Can Become a Catalyst in the Advancement of Healthcare For Women

From areas of menstrual health, birth control, pregnancy, breast health to menopause-This is how technology can be a great help

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“I have a brain and a uterus, and I use both.” — Patricia Schroeder

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It has now been established, beyond any reasonable doubt, the role of women’s health in demographic transition, the economic take-off and overall prosperity of a nation. However, for long, the patriarchal structure of societies, especially in developing nations, have relegated women’s health to the end of the pecking order with women rarely having the same degree of access to even basic healthcare as their male counterparts. To exacerbate matters is the culture of secrecy and taboo surrounding women’s health.

What do the Women Have?

Fortunately, in the last decade or so, movements such as #MeToo, RMNCH+A program by Government of India and literary works such as “Lean In”, by Sheryl Sandberg, has certainly brought to centre stage the various struggles of modern day women, including the disparity in access to care. Such initiatives are leading to break down of societal taboos and empowering women to be more vocal about their health. Discussions are no longer confined to an OB-GYN office or spoken about in a hush-hush manner. However, for these movements to reach scale, be sustainable and make a lasting impact, the role of technology can never be undermined. With increasing advancement, acceptability and accessibility, technology holds tremendous promise to be a women’s best friend when it comes to health.

mHealth to diagnostic tools, wearable trackers, and additional online services, technology now has the sophistication to transform women’s health, empower them to be in charge of their own health choices and, most significantly, disrupt commonly held misconceptions. From areas of menstrual health, birth control, pregnancy, breast health to menopause, technology is effectively addressing the unique aspects. Touted as “Fem-Tech”, technologies revolutionising women’s health is garnering great interest from various communities, including physicians, health policymakers, pharmaceutical and medical devices companies and from investors alike.

Addressing the Problem Pin pointedly

While technology was always considered to be a key ingredient in addressing women’s health issues, the recent advancements in the field of artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics, have enhanced the role of technology and is now widely believed to be the foundation upon which successful women’s health program can be constructed. Providing a fillip to this transition is the increasing penetration of smartphones, focus on vernacular content, low bandwidth data rendering and acceptability of virtual modes of communication. A visit to an Ob-GYN office is now being replaced with virtual consultations, thereby saving time for both stakeholders, tracking of periods and ovulation is now as easy as downloading an app and letting it does the work for you, educating girls about puberty and mensuration, providing women of reproductive age about ovulation, managing their pregnancies and getting back to work, information on infertility and menopause, is no longer at the mercy of health educators alone. Education materials in the form of audio and video can now be made easily available to women of all age groups and at any remote part of the world.

Every woman is unique and so are her health challenges. A one size fits all approach has rarely helped. Advancements in the field of AI/ML and data analytics has helped break that barrier to a great extent. mHealth apps, wearable devices, EMR’s etc. are proving to be a way to handle the five V’s of Big Data (Velocity, Volume, Value, Variety, and Veracity). When utilised by data analytics engines, the big data transforms into extremely meaningful and actionable insights, thereby helping us understand the unique needs of women and her body. This, subsequently, leads to more personalised and customised care. Making it sui generis, the insights can not only help move from curative to preventive care but, also make it persuasive enough.

Technology is acting as a catalyst and bringing about a paradigm change in the way women’s health issues are identified and addressed. Yet, the potential of technology has not been harnessed to its true potential and there remain several ways by which it can be made more ubiquitous, inclusive and intuitive. Nevertheless, technology in its current avatar is helping women’s health movement in all the right ways. Women no longer need to do what they are supposed to do, but, what they want to do.

Adrit Raha

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Adrit Raha, CEO, Vivant, is responsible for overseeing all aspects of Vivant’s business, from aligning the business to the company’s mission, vision and goals to setting strategy, direction, through to Sales, Product, tech and HR.

Prior to joining Vivant, Adrit was Head of Affinity Marketing at AIG (Singapore), with key responsibilities such as managing Existing Partners for AIG (Singapore), along with new business growth in the personal insurance sector. He has also held integral positions at institutions such as Wells Fargo Financial, RSA and Health Source.

He brings to the table a wealth of experience in the fields of Project management & delivery, Sales and NB acquisition, Account Management, while proving to be leader with a strong track record of performance within high-paced, international insurance companies.

He has particular and extensive experience with running a distribution P&L, leading multiple distribution channels across Consumer and Commercial segments (Broker, Bancassurance, Affinity and Alternate distribution), and, delivered successful change projects and initiatives across functions and geography’s.

He is of the strong belief that healthcare has, is, and will always continue to evolve, and it so happens that tech innovation in healthcare is the current now.

Adrit has been at stellar institutions throughout his educational development with his schooling at the prestigious Doon School. He then went on to pursue his Bachelors in Arts at Knox College where he majored in Economics and Psychology. Adrit also attended the University of Strathclyde where he attained his MBA.

In his free time Adrit indulges in Golfing and fast paced runs and enjoys savoring a variety of dishes such as Butter Chicken, Chicken Kiev and Aloo Paratha.