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Nurse staffing: Online platforms poised to make their mark

Healthcare Staffing Report

Nurse staffing: Online platforms poised to make their mark

Katherine Alvarez
| January 13, 2021

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Online platforms for nurse staffing are growing quickly, a beneficiary of Covid-19 and more. In addition, more traditional healthcare staffing firms are taking a closer look at incorporating the concept. Even before the pandemic hit, competition for nurse talent was tough; now, many hospitals and healthcare facilities are facing crisis-level staffing shortages and seeking new ways to staff up.

Epic Health Network estimates that 77,500 nurses nationwide are now directly caring for Covid-19 patients each day - an increase of 245% from only 22,500 nurses in mid-September. Its report found that non-Covid staffing needs are down, but taken together, Covid and non-Covid nurse staff demands have increased by an additional 26,000 nurses per day, 11%, doing direct patient care that can be attributed to increased Covid-19 hospitalizations. 

And with the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, online staffing platforms can truly be a lifesaver.

Hiring platforms overall are still an emerging business model dominated by the IT sector, and SIA has identified fewer than 50 companies providing these services, according to our Introduction to Hiring Platforms report. However, SIA anticipates that such platforms have strong growth potential given technology trends, established interest from important and successful brands and the fact that players from different parts of the workforce solution ecosystem - including healthcare - perceive opportunities.

Nurse Platforms Report Strong Growth

Trusted Health, an online staffing platform for nurses, offers temporary nursing positions nationwide. The San Francisco-based firm uses technology to match nurses to openings, and its automated platform hires nurses on a W-2 basis. Trusted Health had $28 million in revenue in 2019.

“Demand for our nurses is probably the highest than it has ever been,” says Head of Marketplace Amanda Maxedon. She reports the number of open roles has tripled since this time last year, noting the period is already peak flu season and Trusted’s seasonal high. In addition, internal headcount has increased to 140 from 77 over the last 12 months.

SkillGigs is a talent marketplace using AI-based matching technology to pair healthcare professionals with personalized job openings. Its platform experienced a 35.7% increase in the total volume of jobs, recording about 11,000 daily average travel nursing jobs at the end of the fourth quarter. And in December, 22% of its total demand came from Covid jobs - about double the percentage in September.

“We continue to see unprecedented growth in jobs, clinicians and employers signing up to use the marketplace to supplement their existing procurement strategies,” Founder and CEO Kashif Aftab told SIA. “In the future, we also see the concept of the VMS and a vibrant talent marketplace merging to produce an even more powerful solution for all stakeholders. It is an exciting future for sure!”

IntelyCare, an online staffing platform for nurses, experienced exponential growth over the past few years and is seeing “significant demand” for its per-diem staffing and scheduling platform that helps to match post-acute facilities with qualified nursing professionals, according CEO and co-founder David Coppins. Facility demand for staffing more than doubled in 2020 from 2019 and in many of the regions IntelyCare has been operating in for two years or longer, facility demand has grown by almost 400%. Company revenue has doubled year over year since 2017.

“Now, more than ever, our partnered facilities need a solution that helps them efficiently schedule and engage their own staff while also finding ways to fill their staffing gaps,” Coppins said. “We have a solution that solves both of these problems and allows nursing professionals to get maximal flexibility and pay to fill those shifts.”

StaffDNA last year launched a digital marketplace that enables healthcare professionals to find and manage jobs for travel, local and permanent contracts. Healthcare professionals on the platform can search for jobs nationwide. They can customize pay packages by selecting housing options, benefits and travel allowance and apply to jobs. The platform also allows for tracking job submittal status as well as managing compliance requirements, timesheets and assignments.

The marketplace signed on more than 2,500 clients within the first five months; it received more than 100,000 unique app downloads in less than six months and currently averages 20,000 new downloads per month. StaffDNA opened 23 states during Covid-19 when offices were closed and working remotely, and plans to be operating in all 50 states by the end of 2021.

“Self-service apps have changed the way we live, but that was missing in the staffing industry,” said StaffDNA Founder and CEO Sheldon Arora. “Healthcare professionals are very busy and lack quality of time; it’s become unrealistic to have to rely on recruiters and their 8-5 business schedules.”

Investors Taking Note

Investments in online nurse staffing platforms is a nod to their future growth potential.

Online nurse staffing platform SnapNurse last month announced it received a $15 million growth equity investment from investment firm Pivotal Group along with a $100 million credit facility. SnapNurse plans to use the funds for continued growth.

Pivotal Group CEO F. Francis Najafi said SnapNurse has been growing thanks to its technology and its “understanding of how to make the process easier for both healthcare professionals and facilities” instead of getting bogged down with lengthy processes and credentialing paperwork.

SnapNurse reported it had revenue of more than $200 million and 50,000 nurses on its platform. It aims to deliver nurses to clients in 36 to 48 hours.

Quincy, Massachusetts-based IntelyCare in February 2020 announced a $45 million series B funding. It was led by new investor private equity firm Endeavour Vision and included Kaiser Permanente Ventures and investment platform Generator Ventures. The investment followed a previously announced $10.8 million series A funding round in November 2018.

Trusted Health received a $20 million funding round in 2019. Craft Ventures led the funding round and was joined by previous investors Felicis Ventures and Founder Collective.

The Road Ahead Includes Care for the Nurses

Demand for certain types of nurses and other healthcare professionals shows no signs of slowing as the pandemic continues, SIA Senior Editor Craig Johnson wrote in an article in Staffing Industry Review’s Online Showcase. Bill rates are up, with some providers seeing increases of 30% to 40% and some hospitals reportedly paying nurses as much as $8,000 to $10,000 per week.

But despite the fat paychecks, nurses have been negatively impacted the prolonged, increased workloads and the emotional stresses of treating the sickest of Covid patients. Nurse staffing providers are taking note and stepping up.

For instance, Trusted Health last year partnered with the Ohio State University College of Nursing to create a program to support the mental health of nurses.

Under the program, nurses employed by Trusted Health who are working in facilities with Covid-19 patients have access to an emotional support line staffed by a nurse practitioner faculty, including mental health experts and supervised students. The faculty and students will review stressors with callers and offer coping strategies and stress-reduction techniques. Nurses who call the emotional support line may then opt to participate in a wellness support partnership program supported by the College of Nursing for a period of four or eight weeks.

“It’s worth noting that a lot of nurses are burned out, and there is so much stress and trauma on these roles right now,” Trusted’s Maxedon said. “And they are seeing a level of deaths that they have never seen before.”