Exploring & Mapping PriOrities for Women’s health technology, Equipment, kit, devices, and pRoducts
Summary of this project
Many aspects of women’s health and well-being could be improved by developing better technology or devices.
Women’s ideas and priorities need to be at the heart of technology development. This project set out to represent the views of a wide range of women and the clinicians who care for them about priorities for new healthcare technology.
To do this, we:
- Worked with women and health-professionals to develop surveys asking women and health-professionals what they think are unmet women’s health needs and ideas about changes in technology that could help. This included any aspect of health and wellbeing and things that women use themselves at home or might encounter in healthcare settings.
- This survey was distributed widely, including through social media and women’s health organisations.
- Spoke individually and in small groups with women and health-professionals who shared their ideas and experience of unmet needs and technologies in women’s health and well-being.
- Put together a summary ‘longlist’ representing all 329 survey responses from the surveys and what we had heard when we spoke to women and clinicians.
- We checked whether any of the unmet needs on our longlist might be helped by technologies which already exist, and if so, how well those technologies meet women’s needs.
- This identified 51 suggestions about unmet needs in healthcare where better products or devices could help
Finally, we held a partnership meeting with 12 health-professionals and 16 women with a range of background and experience. Together we reviewed these 51 suggestions and agreed on the following top-ten priority list of unmet needs in women’s health where better devices could help:
- Better dilator technology for vaginal pain including after surgery or treatment
- Better period (menstrual) products
- Better non-hormone contraceptives
- Better tests that can be done at home for infections, like water infections, thrush and sexually-transmitted infections
- Better tests and treatments for period pain and pelvic pain, including pain from endometriosis.
- Better devices for internal examination, including things that women could use themselves
- Better tools to help with vaginal prolapse
- Better devices for monitoring health while giving birth
- Better ways to diagnose and treat breastfeeding pain
- Better ways to prevent and manage incontinence during and after pregnancy
Women and clinicians have identified many opportunities where better equipment could be developed to support their health and healthcare.
The Top 10 unmet womens needs
Below are the top 10 unmet needs based on the prioritisation exercise.
Note, these are not ranked in importance.
- Better dilator technology for women with vaginismus (painful vaginal spasms), post-menopausal women, and for women following surgery or radiotherapy
- Better menstrual products - cheaper, more environmentally friendly, better for teenagers, better for heavy bleeding
- Better non-hormonal contraceptives
- Better rapid point of care and home infection tests to look for urinary tract, vaginal thrush, and sexually transmitted infections (gonorrhoea, chlamydia, herpes, warts, trichomonas, syphilis).
- Better tests and non-drug treatments for pelvic pain and period pain including endometriosis detection
- Devices for clinicians to examine the vagina and cervix which are comfortable and work for women of different sizes, with wombs which sit at different angles, and work for trans people and pregnant women and women with pelvic pain. Devices for self-examination.
- A better range of devices to manage vaginal prolapse including self-management, and better ways of choosing devices, such as measuring tools to get the right pessary size
- Monitoring during labour which allows movement (for example not requiring abdomen stickers)
- Technology to address breast and nipple pain while breast feeding, and home tests for nipple thrush
- Technology which can be used before birth to manage urine leakage and incontinence and reduce perineal damage from the birth, to provide perineal support/care for perineal after birth, and to help manage discomfort and bleeding
You can also download the top 20 list below by clicking the button.
What we have heard
Click the button below to download a narrative .pdf of the full list of what we have heard through the priority setting exercise.
Who are we?
We are a group of health professionals, researchers and service users from the University of Oxford. Our aim is to understand where better technology could be developed to improve women’s health and well-being. We want to hear what the women think are the most important (priority) areas for better technology to be developed. Once we understand what women and health professionals think are the most important priorities for better technology in women’s health, we plan to work with engineers and industry to develop new technologies.