When medicine meets business



WePrescribe is a telemedicine company co-founded by Dr. Cedric Strong, EMBA ‘19 

EMBA alumnus serving the community with telehealth services on the COVID-19 frontline
By Dani Douglass

Dr. Cedric StrongWhen Dr. Cedric Strong, EMBA ‘19, launched WePrescribe late last year, he was fulfilling a dream to start a telemedicine company. Since then, WePrescribe, which he co-founded with Dr. Neel Chauhan, has been providing services to more than 100,000 members as a telehealth company in Hawai’i. Now that he is working on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, the video chat service has seen a 30% increase in patients seeking assistance with general health conditions.

As the public’s concern surrounding COVID-19 continues to grow, so does the popularity of telehealth services like WePrescribe. Seeing a board certified physician in the comfort of a patient’s own home significantly decreases the risk of exposure. The virtual visits Strong and his team conduct help diagnose more than 50 common conditions including urinary track infection, pink eye and cold and flu symptoms. The company also assists with prescriptions for conditions such as rosacea and hair loss.

Screening for coronavirus

WePrescribe is also screening patients -- and providing expedited testing if needed -- for COVID-19 following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines. Strong advises that anyone who has traveled to a hot spot such as Wuhan, New York City, Las Vegas, Italy, Spain or South Korea to consider whether they should be screened.

“If you think you have come in contact with someone from these areas that was symptomatic and you have been in close quarters with them, you should consider getting screened especially if you are having symptoms,” he said. “The most common symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath.”

Other symptoms the WePrescribe physicians monitor related to COVID-19 include headache, myalgias, sore throat, nasal congestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of taste and loss of smell.

“If you have any of these symptoms, you should self-quarantine,” Strong said. “You should also be screened, preferably through a telehealth service so you don’t risk contagion and spread of illness. If one of our doctors determines that you need testing, we arrange for an appointment at one of the testing centers in our network.

As you can see many in our community may have symptoms and are not even aware that they have it,” Strong said. “Only the most severe cases get admitted to our hospitals. Patients who have had COVID-19 describe it as a severe case of the flu.”

How it works

Before the video visit, a trained clinician reviews the patient’s detailed history submitted through a questionnaire. During the visit, the medical professional asks questions to diagnose the condition and calls in a prescription if necessary. Home delivery can also be arranged if needed. Patients are asked to pay the $49.99 fee at the time of service. An invoice and detailed notes are then emailed to the patient to submit to their insurance company. Reimbursement or credit toward the visit are possible depending on the patient’s insurance plan.

Building on a strong foundation

Strong, who has been a practicing medical doctor for 20 years, says that his time at the Shidler College of Business and in the Executive MBA program gave him the confidence to become an entrepreneur.

“When I first thought about starting a telemedicine company two years ago, I never thought in my wildest dreams that it was achievable. Just about halfway through my MBA, I realized it wasn’t such a crazy proposition.”

Strong reflects fondly on the mentorship he received from his professors and the Professional-in-Residence (PIR) program, both of which help him to build the strong foundation needed to be an entrepreneur.

“I owe a lot of credit to the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE), run by Executive Director Peter Rowan,” Strong said. “I can’t sing enough praises about them. The PIRs were also very helpful with some of the legal intricacies and marketing, which is very important when starting a new business. I am fortunate that I was able to meet with other startups and learn about their experiences.”

Following his graduation from UH, many of those relationships served as stepping stones to help Strong build his company to where it stands today. Those valuable experiences include Impact Hub, East Meets West conference sponsored by Blue Startups and the True Initiative, a public-private partnership at the Entrepreneurs Sandbox.

“I made some great friendships in school and I actually do business with several of my classmates. If I had gone to school somewhere else I would have never benefited from these experiences and the relationships that I developed at UH.”