New York City-based Nomad Health, which makes a digital marketplace to connect doctors with freelance clinical work, has wandered in the world of nursing. Starting today in Texas, nurses can use Nomad to find and register for short-term clinical work in hospitals and health systems.
The news comes a little less than a year after Nomad, which was founded in 2015, raised $4 million in early stage financing. At that time, the platform was still in beta testing with around 400 and doctors in hospitals and clinics around New York, New Jersey and a few other east coast states, but the company has expanded quickly. In May, it began offering services in California and Texas, and the company eventually hopes to make its services available nationwide.
“Since the moment we started this company, we knew we wanted to get into the nursing market. It’s just happening a lot sooner than we thought it would,” Nomad cofounder Dr. Alexi Nazem told MobiHealthNews. “We didn’t think we would be doing it until 2018, but there was such a fast market uptake and a lot of interest from clients and customers that we moved it up.”
It’s a considerable market to get into. Just like doctors, nurses are in short supply, and many hospitals and clinics struggle to keep enough staff on hand. It’s expected that by 2022 there will be a shortage of 1.2 million registered nurses.
“It’s the same problem that exists in the doctor market, but to a worse degree,” said Nazem. “And it is getting worse for a lot of reasons. There is a huge demand on medical services as we have an aging population, and many nurses are also nearing retirement themselves.”
What’s more, the traditional process of connecting clinicians with short-term work can be an onerous, time-consuming task. The $15 billion temporary healthcare staffing industry can complicate the process with hidden costs and delays, Nazem said.
“There is this huge industry around temporary staffing, with per diems and the traveling nurse field. But there are about 2,500 staffing agencies in the United States, so there is this huge amount of fragmentation,” Nazem said. “That’s part of the difficulty of being a nurse who is interested in freelance or traveling work. It’s hard to get a handle on all the opportunities, and then once you have finally found a broker, it takes a long time to actually start the temporary job.”
So Nomad wants to cut out that intermediary and connect nurses and doctors directly with healthcare organizations looking for extra staff. By replacing the broker function with an online platform, Nomad handles the application process, credentialing, payments, malpractice insurance and communication, and reports efficiency gains to tune of 30 percent savings for employers and higher pay to nurses.
“We’re completely transparent in all of our costs. It’s known from the outset how much we are charging, how much the health organization is taking, and how much nurses are making,” said Nazem. “By cutting out the broker, we can also allow immediate interaction between the nurse and clinic.”
Nomad is now live for doctors in 14 states across hundreds of healthcare centers, but the nursing network will begin in Texas because it has the largest Nursing Licensure Compact, which allows nurses with an NLC license to practice in any of the 25 NLC states. Additionally, the state is a desirable place to work due to the high number of urban medical facilities as well as rural healthcare centers that could use the extra help. After the launch in Texas, Nomad plans to continue rollout out throughout the country over the next year.
While Nomad’s doctor-staffing service works by classifying doctors as independent contractors, the nursing service will actually require nurses to fill out a W-2. But that doesn’t mean they are only employed by Nomad. Rather, they use the platform to connect with clinics and hospitals, then have temporary employee status with Nomad to access the network regularly.
“They don’t become an employee of Nomad in absence of a specific job, but it makes it a lot easier to string together a bunch of engagements,” said Nazem. “Nurses can have a lot more flexibility in their careers. There are a lot of doctors and nurses who wouldn’t necessarily be locums or traveling nurses, but they would be Nomads."
What that means is there are scenarios wherein younger nurses or those who prefer to switch it up every so often can use Nomad to facilitate a less static work life.
“The platform can invite a lot more people into the fold who may want to do traveling nurse stints for awhile, or just have changes every few years. It can be this fun, nomadic lifestyle,” said Nazem. “The millennial generation (which is now becoming this new crop of professionals); they are doctors, they are lawyers, but all the same employment trends are affecting them. They want to be freelancers and have control over their life. They aren’t going to spend 25 years at IBM.”