Day 2 at WHII: Women need to leap-frog over the system and invest in women's health
Day 2 of WHII was filled with a lot big names in women's health in Israel. The halls were filled with interesting lectures, demos and mingling.
My key takeaways from Day 2:
Women are not like men when it comes to basically everything that has to do with health and medicine
Women (and men) need to come together to push forward inclusive research & products to leap-frog in women's health and close the gap
We need to get more investment into the field, whether it be from women or crowdfunding and stop waiting for the system
Some highlights from the sessions I attended below (again, it was hard to choose which sessions to go to and I'm sure I missed out on some great ones!)
As I mentioned in the last post, for me the highlight of this day was the Women's Health is a Nation's Wealth Panel that occurred in the afternoon. Participants: Michael Hemmo Lotem (CEO of Osheya), Dr. Osnat Levtzion (General Director of Assaf Harofe Hospital), Meredith Rose Burak (Investor), Sara Tancman (The Bria'a Foundation), Dana Weinberg (Women and Their Bodies), Reenita Das (Frost & Sullivan), Anula Jayasuriya (Investor), Anat Horovitz (Isha2Isha)
Meredith Rose Burak gave a very inspirational speech:
Nearly half of women say they don't have a financial role model; women need to learn to talk about money
Women need to help each other out -- meet each other when we are contacted by other women
Women will hold $72 trillion in assets by 2020; 62% of women investors want to invest in something they care about -- we need stop waiting for the system, the government, VCs etc. and push forward initiatives in women's health by ourselves
Too much of femtech is focused on fertility and menstruation. We need to look at cancer and other diseases affecting women.
Our challenge: Investment in men's hair loss is way higher than cervical cancer. There are too few women in leadership positions and we need to change the ecosystem. We need to look at young girls and try to give them as many opportunities as possible.
HBS/Brigham Hospital study: If a woman arrives in the ER with a heart attack, she is way more likely to live if the doctor that sees her is a woman.
Until 2000 pharma companies looked at the # of people they could reach. Today they look at niche drugs for rare diseases. That way they need less sales people but can charge a lot more for those drugs.
We need to get the message out that women and men are different in their health needs.
It takes women twice as long to absorb food compared to men -- think of that as a starting point to our differences.
Anya Eldan, VP at the Israel Innovation Authority opened the morning at WHII
How she knows there is a need to push ahead and grow the women's health industry: She received only 40 requests from the 7,000 startups in Israel to present at the start-up pavilion at WHII (for most conferences she receives hundreds)
Dr. Noa Dagan, Chief Data Officer at Clalit Research Institute
AI models need to incorporate fairness algorithms that make models more accurate for sub-populations (including women).
It’s currently cool to talk about predictive and prescriptive models, but sometimes we forget that we still have a lot of work to do just looking at descriptive data -- using the big data to describe and give us more information about the situation. This point stood out to me at the conference, as it seems that we haven’t yet started to even analyze the big data (if we have even have it) for so many fields in women's health.
I asked her about how the models that Israeli health systems are creating today hold out once they reach different populations (particularly in lower-income countries). She said that one of the biggest challenges is getting existing models to work with fewer variables in countries that have collected way less data. Basically if we want AIs created in specific health systems today to work across the globe, we still have a lot of work to do gathering diverse data and adjusting models.
Shiri Solomon, VP of Products at Zebra Medical
80% of osteoporosis patients are women
1 in 2 women over 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis fractures cost $18B per year in US
12-30% of women over 50 have vertebral compression fractures (VCF) but often radiologists miss them in abdomen + CT scans (49% of the time at Oxford FLS)
Radiologists + AI re-analyzing CT scans = much better results
This technology can highly impact developing countries where there are very few radiologists
Dr. Zipi Dolev gave a very interesting lecture about women and sleep:
Women suffer twice as much from insomnia then men (women suffer from more insomnia across all age groups)
Women spend more time in bed but less time sleeping than men
Hormones (estrogen) cause a decrease in REM sleep cycles, so women are more likely to have sleep issues during PMS, pregnancy, postpartum and menopause
40% of perimenopausal women report sleep difficulties but hormonal medicines don't work unless they are suffering from insomnia due to heat flashes
Dr. Avital Porter, Director of the Women's Heart Clinic at Beilinson Hospital
There is an increase in cardiovascular mortality in women under 55; up to 50% is preventable!
Endothelial dysfunction is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease in women
There are sex differences in cardiovascular aging; Early menopause is associated with poor endothelial function
Women with complicated pregnancies (particularly preeclampsia) compared to normal pregnancies show higher rates of endothelial dysfunction and future risk of cardiovascular disease
Super interesting startup combining clinical grade results and home diagnostics.
10M visits a year because of vaginal infections a year; doctors misdiagnose 40-50% of the time because don’t do a microscope test
Women often delay going to a clinic, which can result in complications.
Their solution is an at-home microscope. Women can test at home, take a picture of the microscope results, send through teleservices and then receive a prescription (if necessary).
For those looking to read some more:
Microbes influence every stage in a women's life cycle
There is a reciprocal relationship between estrogen and the microbiome
A pre-diabetes population had a 60% average reduction of time spent above 140 mg/dl after 6 months when eating a diet specific to their microbiome makeup (compared to 10% reduction on the ADA diet). I asked how much improvement was shown when looking just at a female population, but we’ll need to wait for the study to be published to find out more details. As there is a relationship between estrogen and microbiomes it will be super interesting to see how women’s recommended diets/microbiomes are affected by their menstrual cycle + aging.
Martin Maier, Global Marketing and Product Management Lead for Obstetrics (OB) & Neonatal Monitoring at Philips
An increase in pregnant women with high BMI and that are looking for convenient products with higher comfort. He spoke about the Avalon Beltless Solution for fetal monitoring.
Philips is looking to integrate AI solutions that will make fetal monitoring more successful and give guidance to anyone anywhere and anytime.
Currently algorithms are not used to predict which embryo's have a higher chance develop into a healthy blastocyst and be implanted.
Both companies are looking to provide AI-empowered decision making tools for the IVF process.
I also heard about a bunch of other startups (Eve Pharm, TillaCare, igentify, Hera Med and more). Contact me if you want to hear more about them).