These S’poreans tackle sensitive health issues via telemedicine

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One of the most memorable part-time jobs I took as a student was as a triage staff member at a family clinic in the East of Singapore. There, I ensured patients completed the safe entry and pre-appointment surveys. 

While the job may sound mundane to many, it was through this experience that I learned more about unique health issues. One of the distinct memories I had was when a girl who was about the same age as me came to the clinic to get her birth control pills. 

As my knowledge of birth control pills and their uses were only limited to what my parents and friends shared, I decided to ask the clinic assistants about it. While they were open and patient as they responded to my questions, I sensed they were slightly surprised when I first asked them about it, which unknowingly made me feel self-conscious. 

When I reflected on this experience, two questions ran through my mind: If I felt conscious of how my colleagues perceived me, how about those experiencing these health issues themselves? How can they receive the help they need if the world continues to judge them for their sex life? Dr Bosty Chan Jun Yang, founder of The Cloud Clinic, seems to have a solution for those problems.  

Before starting The Cloud Clinic, Dr Bosty had a background in surgery after graduating in Scotland and was active in the Singapore health tech scene, notably working at TrustScan – a local COVID-passport aggregator and running Lokuns – an online marketplace for doctors in Singapore. 

Together with his wife Hazel, who has a background in healthcare research and previously worked at the National Cancer Center Singapore, they poured some of their life savings into launching The Cloud Clinic in 2021.

Breaking stigmas against sexual health 

men erectile dysfunction
Image Credit: iStock

Given that Singapore is an Asian and, consequently, conservative country, one might have the idea that sexual health issues are rare occurrences. Contrary to common beliefs, sexual health issues such as erectile dysfunction (ED) are more common in Singapore than one might think. 

In an article written by the Singapore Heart Foundation, more than half of the Singaporean male population suffers from ED over the age of 30, which could also manifest into a heart disease or stroke if it remains untreated. 

While this takes a toll on a man’s overall confidence, one of the reasons that many may be averse to seeking help is the shame associated with seeking assistance for sexual health matters – a scenario that Dr Bosty is acquainted with, having worked as a physician at Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Sengkang General Hospital. 

SIRE and DAME products
SIRE and DAME products / Image Credit: The Cloud Clinic

During his tenure, Dr Bosty witnessed his patients’ hesitation and discomfort when they first visited him for a medical consult due to the “hush-hush” nature of their health concerns. These encounters spurred him to start brainstorming on how he could provide a more private and accessible healthcare experience for his male patients, leading him to launch his telemedicine platform, SIRE, in 2022 and DAME in 2023 for women. 

Both brands focus on providing healthcare services for sensitive health issues, such as ED, birth control, performance anxiety and emergency contraception. For SIRE, Dr Bosty shared that the ages of his patients range from 18-50 years old, the majority of whom seek medical advice on ED, premature ejaculation (PE) and hair loss issues. On the other hand, his female patients whom he communicates through DAME are career-minded women aged 25-45 who are interested in family planning and women’s empowerment. 

“We understand the consumers do not like to be judged in sensitive matters and that each patient needs to be treated with utmost respect and privacy,” added Dr Bosty. When asked whether sexual health remains a taboo topic today, he acknowledged that this sentiment remains prevalent among different demographics in Singapore. 

He also pointed out that more people have become more comfortable communicating their health needs to him, linking this to an encounter with a couple who sought help.

The lady of the couple had booked a consultation, to the man’s surprise, where he came out to be shy and a little awkward, but they were both committed to making their relationship work. As the man understood the treatment better and started seeing the results, he booked consultations and is now a happy customer. 

Dr Bosty Chan Jun Yang, founder of The Cloud Clinic

Dr Bosty added that over time, more people have become open to discussing sexual health matters, with the fertility telemedicine sector gaining traction and awareness. He also expresses his ambition to encourage honest conversations through The Cloud Clinic’s online platforms.

Leveraging telemedicine to cater to sensitive healthcare needs

Aside from the added convenience and privacy that telemedicine brings patients, one might question Dr Chan’s decision to start his telemedicine platforms instead of a physical clinic. Moreover, Singapore saw a surge of telemedicine platforms that specialise in sexual wellness, notably Noah, Zoey and Ease Healthcare – how does The Cloud Clinic keep up with the competition? 

The journey of seeking medical advice begins online. 

When we post educational materials online, people can learn about their issues at their own pace. This raises awareness of our brand and authority in this domain.

Dr Bosty Chan Jun Yang, founder of The Cloud Clinic

SIRE and DAME delivery process
How medicines are delivered from SIRE and DAME / Image Credit: SIRE and DAME Singapore

Both SIRE and DAME operate using a subscription-based model, which allows patients to continue their line of medications. Patients can also schedule a virtual consultation with one of their doctors for S$25 before deciding on a subscription plan.  

However, the days leading up to the launch were not the smoothest for The Cloud Clinic. Dr Bosty explained that not only did he experience all sorts of technical challenges as a non-tech entrepreneur, which included the lack of readily available software – he had to grapple with the seemingly endless regulations, which included the Data Protection Act (PDPA) and guidelines set by the Ministry of Health (MOH) before he could commence operations.

SIRE medicines
SIRE’s medicines are packed into individual packets / Image Credit: The Cloud Clinic

Undeterred by the setbacks, Dr Bosty tirelessly worked towards designing a delivery framework and implemented security measures to protect the privacy of his patients. He explains that the deliveries are tightly controlled, and data is not shared with the NEHR (National Electronic Health Record). “We [also] remove the stigma from the pill-popping experience by packing them into individual sleeves,” he added. 

Dr Bosty also shared that another motivation to launch his practice was that he felt that the telemedicine sector is ‘misunderstood’ in Singapore. When asked what he meant by ‘misunderstood’, he quickly clarified that beyond convenience and affordability, many have yet to utilise telemedicine for more severe and long-term healthcare issues, to which he recounted an incident where a family member experienced severe abdominal pain whilst on holiday.

Things took a dramatic turn when she consulted with Dr Bosty, who determined that the pain was disproportionately severe following her medical history, resulting in ending her vacation early for an emergency surgery. Upon further diagnosis, they found an incarcerated inguinal hernia – a protruding growth in the groin area that could become life-threatening if it had ruptured.   

As compared to diagnosing patients in person, he added that there is a specific set of skills that telemedicine doctors use when evaluating patients virtually to ensure patients are cared for to the highest degree, especially for sensitive health issues such as sexual health. Despite many of his patients using telemedicine for the first time, they were satisfied with his services, allowing SIRE to break even within six months after launch.  

The vision is to build healthcare solutions tailored for the internet-savvy generations from millennials to GenZ and beyond. We firmly believe that digital health is the future. 

Dr Bosty Chan Jun Yang, founder of The Cloud Clinic

Plans to become the top digital hospital in Asia

Over the years, the public has become more aware of sexual health services and, eventually, decreased the stigma against sensitive health issues. This is a welcome change for The Cloud Clinic, as Dr Bosty expresses his optimism for more advancements in the industry. 

He shared that, unlike in the past, people suffering from sensitive health issues can now acquire their medications through safer mediums with the help of health professionals. Apart from hiring a licensed pharmacist to assist with inquiries from potential patients, he plans to cater to the increasing demand through community building and establishing advisory medical teams. 

Since its inception, The Cloud Clinic has grown its brand as a pioneer of home-based semen analysis in Singapore. The company has also grown from a duo to a team of 15, including five telemedicine doctors. 

It seems the sky’s the limit for The Cloud Clinic, so what’s next for the business? 

The company aims to expand its spectrum of healthcare services on both platforms and introduce other niches, including chronic and gynaecological health. Dr Bosty has also shared that he is open to exploring more partnership opportunities and strategic initiatives to bring SIRE and DAME’s telehealth services beyond Singapore and Southeast Asia. 

Dr Bosty has also expressed his ambition for The Cloud Clinic to become the top digital hospital in Asia by focusing on education to empower more people to take control of their health and build a community that provides a safe space for those dealing with unique health concerns. 

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Featured Image Credit: The Cloud Clinic

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