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The digital health start-up tackling the taboo of men’s health

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A UK-based start-up is utilising digital health and telemedicine to address stigmatised male health problems, including erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, fertility and hair loss.

Numan is a digital health platform that launched in February 2019 to help men better understand their health and wellbeing through a digital experience that incorporates telemedicine, pathology, screening, blood testing and consultations.

Historically, there has been a great deal of stigma attached to men’s health issues, impacting the lifestyle and self-esteem of those with such conditions. Numan says it is addressing these issues by improving access, availability and the ‘user experience’ of healthcare services.

Backed by a number of investors, including Vostok New Ventures, Numan developed a platform that provides treatments, supplements and doctor consultations, with the aim to increase men’s engagement with healthcare services and encourage them to seek help.

Numan was founded by serial entrepreneur, Sokratis Papafloratos (pictured above), who previously founded two other consumer technology companies and was one of the first investors to back Secret Escapes and Calm.com.

Papafloratos says: “Men are twice as likely to have a heart attack than women, they are three times more likely to die from suicide and, in general, don’t have the lifespan or the health standard that they should.

“Men often carry a lot of baggage when it comes to how we take care of ourselves. Numan’s position is that you need to take ownership and responsibility for your health, and you need to take action and do something about it.

“We’ve zeroed in on a language and a message that is all about taking the first step, whatever that happens to be for you. It could be educating yourself on some of these conditions; it could be starting an online consultation, or it could be using medicine to help yourself.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the company has seen its registrations for erectile dysfunction treatments more than double, and registrations for hair loss kits more than quadruple.

Papafloratos puts this down to the natural momentum of the company along with the astronomical rise of digital health which has come as a result of the virus.

“As horrible as the current situation is for everyone, it has been a catalyst for digital health and it has forced a lot of men to look for solutions,” says Papafloratos.

“Men are spending a lot more time with their partners at home and we are seeing increased cases of anxiety and stress. We know that people are going to be needing more support during this period. And companies like ours are there to provide one of the solutions.”

Last week, Numan launched two new additions to its platform; a personalised supplementation product and a personalised health ‘MOT’.

The latter is a series of blood tests that check for key biomarkers around patients’ lipids, cholesterol and hormonal levels. Results from the tests are used to connect men with a doctor to discuss their symptoms and potential treatment options.

As an early-stage company, Numan isn’t currently utilising advanced technologies such as machine learning or AI. According to Papafloratos , what the company is doing is using technology to make men’s healthcare more affordable, accessible and convenient.

“At the moment we’re not revolutionising healthcare,” Papafloratos says. “By that I mean we’re not doing primary research and we’re not doing science,”

“What we’re building is a consumer brand around healthcare, which is not something that you hear about a lot. But I fundamentally believe that we need to provide the education, the tools and the access to experts, so people can take the best actions for their health and wellbeing.

“Our approach is to be vocal about men’s health. We’re going to create experiences and a brand that unashamedly speaks about taking action and doing something about the problem.”

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