Indonesian startup Newman’s targets treatment of sensitive health issues through online medicine

Indonesia based Newman’s is using telemedicine for enhanced patient care in treating stigmatized health issues. Founded by Elsen Wiraatmadja, Alfred Ali and Anthony Suryaputra, the startup’s first program was dedicated to treatment of hair loss.

Their first campaign of hair treatment was driven by personal experiences of hair loss in twenties.  “It was a rather depressing period. It affected our confidence, our jobs and we didn’t know who to talk to and what to do,” explains Suryaputra. “Even going to the doctor for treatment was an awkward process and it was expensive to pay for medications. We talked to other men and they faced the same issues.”

In Indonesia the two most important ingredients for treating hair loss- minoxidil and finasteride require a prescription. Furthermore, the country has a paucity of physicians, making it difficult to obtain consultation.

As a result, the startup initiated direct contact with manufacturers for its hair loss products, which contain minoxidil and finasteride. Newman’s margins are higher as they cut out on distribution and retail middlemen. The team uses this share of income instead to pay consultation for doctors on platform. Furthermore, they encourage buyers to use their products for a period of minimum three months and guarantees a 100% money-back.

Newman’s platform uses a detailed questionnaire and photos to help doctors diagnose and evaluate specific treatments. The platform reportedly has 15 doctors on board, who attend to about 10 to 15 patients per day through the platform.

Newman’s expressed its ambitions to expand its business in Indonesia in the future. Part of Y Combinator’s winter 2020 batch, the team speaks about launching telemedicine prescription into treating other sensitive health issues such as erectile dysfunction and smoking cessation. The startup will further also invest in women’s health.

According to World Bank, the country has less physicians per 1000 patients, in comparison to the United States, or neighboring countries like Singapore and Thailand.

“We cannot create more doctors, so we have to make seeing patients more efficient for them,” commented Suryaputra.