Telehealth platform aims to be SA’s online sexual health clinic

Although currently focusing on areas of sexual health, the telehealth platform Control will seek to expand into other health areas and expand its product line.

Some of these areas include primary health, mental health and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) says co-founder and CEO Alex Schmid.

Schmid was talking to ITWeb about the next phase of growth for the online prescription and delivery service for sexual health and confidence products.

Launched in May last year, Contro offers “discreet” virtual consultations with licensed healthcare professionals, from R150. The service also includes drug prescriptions through the platform and a delivery service at no additional cost.

Contro’s prescription services include birth control, erectile dysfunction treatment and hair loss treatment. Its acute services also offer on-the-spot treatments for certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs), thrush and urinary tract infections.

Schmid says: “Our next product launches will focus on genital herpes – which is something we are looking at from a chronic perspective – cold sore treatments and emergency contraception.

“With emergency contraception, we will not provide the drugs, only the prescriptions. The reason we haven’t launched these is that Contro is not an emergency service; we do not provide treatments for emergency situations.

Schmid notes that these products will be available in the coming months.

In the case of PrEP, he comments that this is a major area of ​​interest for the telehealth platform. “It’s something we’re looking to put on our platform and give more people access to it.”

Alex Schmid, co-founder and CEO of Contro.

Alex Schmid, co-founder and CEO of Contro.

Schmid explains that addressing sexual health questions and concerns virtually empowers more people to take control of their sexual health and sex life without fear of judgment.

Since its launch, Contro has attracted more than 1,000 customers, he reveals, noting that 30-40% of customers live in areas such as Soweto and the townships of Khayelitsha and Langa in Cape Town. “It’s great to see that people have better access to health care.”

To use the platform, the co-founder explains that a user will start by registering and then selecting the service they need. “If a customer chooses birth control, for example, they will need to complete an online health assessment form, filling in questions that would normally be asked during a doctor visit – the process usually takes about five minutes. .

“Once the form is completed and the client has verified and paid the R150, the form is sent to one of our doctors you are assigned to and the system flags and informs the doctor of any areas that may be problematic. Once verified and paid, the client can book a virtual consultation at a time that suits them best.

“After the consultation, which lasts on average about four and a half minutes, the client’s script is sent directly to the pharmacy, packaged and delivered free of charge to their door.

“Every month for a chronic product like birth control we repeat your prescription and manage it so that you always get your script on time and we charge R150 per month plus drug costs if the we don’t get medical help.”

In the case of STI consultations, he indicates that these are also done virtually because doctors normally treat according to symptoms. “The big problem with STIs in South Africa is that getting tested is exceptionally expensive. The cheapest we found was R3,600 which is unaffordable for the majority of South Africans.

“When we spoke to the doctors about it, they said that in practice people were not testing and they were being treated based on symptoms and given medication based on their symptoms.

“If it is a complex case and there is something that the doctors are absolutely unsure of and cannot treat virtually, they will refer the patient to a public clinic or a private doctor. that the individual can afford.”

He continues: “We don’t deal with HIV because it’s a much more complex disease to manage. It requires more patient-doctor management and requires a lot of testing, so it’s not something we got into.

As for growth, Schmid notes that Contro is raising funds to further improve the business. “We raised quite a bit of money and are closing the last round of funding; we are there most of the time.

“We want to be SA’s online sexual health clinic, and that’s where we see ourselves going. Additionally, we want to be South Africa’s go-to telehealth platform.

“Our plan is to expand well beyond South Africa; we are looking to establish ourselves in regions such as the Middle East, Europe and the rest of the African continent. The South is just the beginning.

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