Kansas City entrepreneur cashes in on her experience to provide telehealth services to the underserved

When Dr. Shelley Cooper launched her telehealth consulting business Diversity Telehealth LLC in Kansas City, Mo. in 2015, she knew she’d face an uphill battle due to the nature of her work. “‘What is telehealth, and how does it work?’—Those are the questions I get all the time,” says Dr. Cooper. “But I’m here to tell you about the lifesaving benefits it can provide, and why you should care about it.”

Telehealth services allow patients to connect with a doctor via virtual visits to receive care for non-life threatening injuries and even receive prescriptions as needed, all from the comfort of home. In light of the distancing guidelines put in place during the pandemic, telehealth services have become a staple for patients who would like to receive medical care while being cautious. But even when Dr. Cooper saw a spike in her business during the early stages of the pandemic, most of her contracts and projects have been cancelled. She explains, “I’m down to only one contract at the moment, but I’m hopeful that business will continue to thrive as more people learn about telehealth.” 

Dr. Cooper’s work and entrepreneurial endeavors are what keep her grounded and motivate her to continue to seek avenues to keep her business running. She  shares, “My goal in life is to give back to my community. I want to ensure that underprivileged and underserved communities can access telehealth services. It’s the most cost-effective option to access healthcare for them, but it can also be a great way to get in touch with a physician now that we’re in the middle of a pandemic.” And to aid in her goal to provide greater access to healthcare services, Diversity Telehealth Community Network 501(c)(3) raises funds from public and private partners, which are in turn utilized to provide complimentary virtual medical memberships to families. She offers Teladoc, an organization that provides virtual healthcare. 

Along with her consulting business and nonprofit, Dr. Cooper also spearheads SureShow Inc., an application that sends alerts to patients and their doctors when patients miss their in-person appointments. The app invites customers to participate in a virtual appointment directly with their doctor, and provides other features for patients and their healthcare providers. She shares, “SureShow allows clinics to reduce their no-shows, which ultimately affects their bottom line. But it also helps people receive medical care at their own convenience, even when life gets too complicated.”

Despite her entrepreneurial endeavors to better serve patients and clinics during the pandemic, Dr. Cooper still needs help to weather the ongoing crisis. She plans to apply for a second PPP loan to help her wade through the mountain of expenses that owning a business carries. 

She shares, “Small businesses are working tirelessly to keep their doors open and remain in business, and we’d like to continue to innovate and diversify the American economy. But to do that, big companies and those in power should take a chance on the little guy. We need opportunities to prove that we can get the job done, but it requires that those who are in power take the chance on us.”

Small Business Majority is sharing stories like Dr. Shelley Cooper’s to educate policymakers about what small business owners need in order to survive this crisis. Help us spread the word that policymakers need to do more to support business owners in order for our economy to recover by sharing your story or signing our letter to Congress to ask for long-term relief.

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