2020 PVD Design Catalyst: Eugenio Fernandez of Asthenis
August 3, 2020 /// Featuring: Eugenio Fernandez of Asthenis
EUGENIO FERNANDEZ of ASTHENIS
1. Tell us about your company!
Asthenis is an innovative design concept that re-imagines the health care experience in Rhode Island. Our mission is to help build a health-conscious community by promoting public health guidance and health education.
2. Where did the name of your company come from?
Asthenis (Astheneis) is Greek for the word “patient”. In medicine, the people are referred to as the “patient”. We believe that some of the issues we face in the US healthcare system stem from putting too much of the focus towards administration while too little of the focus on the patient. We believe that by focusing healthcare back on the people (or “patients”) this will help dig us out of some of the healthcare troubles we experience as a nation. We named our company Asthenis (patient) to be a constant reminder to focus on people and not administration.
3. Why did you start your business?
During graduate school, I observed that many of the physicians in my classes would complain about the shortened amount of time they had to spend with a patient. They would argue that they often felt rushed and did not have enough time to effectively diagnose, select a therapy, and explain treatment plans to their patients. Their concerns about rushed medical sessions turned out to be accurate. The average length of a doctor’s office visit is only 15 minutes. Yet, your doctor’s office is usually your most reliable source for health information.
This made me wonder what the experience was like for the patient. If you visit your doctor’s office and within that 15-minute session you forget to ask a question, where else can you turn to as a reliable source for health information? There are WebMD and other internet sources, but these channels are generally not patient-specific because what may be OK for one patient may not be the case for another. Consequently, I decided to form an entity called Asthenis in the community that becomes the community’s resource for reliable health information.
Our mission at Asthenis is to help build a health-conscious community by promoting public health guidance and health education.
4. Why do you have your business in Providence?
I am the son and sibling of Cuban refugees and was born in Providence. I grew up poor on Hanover Street in Providence and attended Classical High School. I have close ties to Providence’s low-income neighborhoods and am intimately familiar with some of the challenges to better health outcomes.
I was the only URI quadruple degree undergraduate to concomitantly earn a Doctor of Pharmacy, Master of Business, Bachelors in Psychology, and Bachelors in Biology. I completed my graduate studies in public health from Harvard University. I am a RI Wavemaker fellow and looking forward to bringing innovative ideas that will improve the healthy living of our state’s most vulnerable populations.
5. How has the Catalyst program impacted your business?
The Catalyst program has been impactful to Asthenis' health design experience. The Catalyst program provided mentorship and resulted in changes to our branding and operational efficiency.
Through the Catalyst program, Asthenis worked with creative and talented people who helped us fine-tune our brand and better communicate our messaging. The interior of our physical space was adjusted by adding new artwork to our plastic panels. This is impactful to our branding because visitors at Asthenis are now able to learn about our design experience and mission through the new artwork. Our messaging was captured with updates to our website and in two 30-second videos, one in English and a second version in Spanish. The videos were professionally edited and helped demonstrate Asthenis’ public health and community focus. To view the videos and website updates please visit AsthenisUSA.com.
The Catalyst program helped us improve our operational efficiency. We were able to use funds by the Catalyst program to update our existing systems and changed some of our operating procedures. With the restructured operational workflow, we can now meet our growing demand and leverage technological advancement to work more efficiently.
Our mentorship provided exceptional value to our Catalyst program experience. Under guidance from my Catalyst mentor, I was able to work with more confidence and stick with our community mission. Moreover, my mentor allowed me to learn more about myself and continue with our mission of building a health-conscious community.
6. What aspects of the program did you find most valuable?
The Catalyst program’s cohort and mentorship were the most valuable aspects of the Catalyst program. The comradeship that was established with our cohort was also valuable because it provided us a venue to share and learn from each other’s experiences. When social distancing measures were imposed, we were able to innovate as a group and work closely together. The Catalyst program has had a great impact on our business model. We are very grateful for the impact the Catalyst grant has had in helping us improve access to public health guidance and health education to our community members.
7. What’s the most important aspect of being a business owner?
An important part of being a business owner is that you enjoy what you are doing. Most business owners wear multiple hats. Typically you will find that one or fewer individuals will have multiple responsibilities (i.e. marketing, budgeting and pricing, business development, etc.). These responsibilities can become tedious and cumbersome if you don’t enjoy what you are doing.