BY, MS, BHSA, RN-BC, CCM, CRRN
In this edition of Legacy Leaders, Anne Llewellyn caught up with Benjamin J. Foster, the CEO and founder of Nurseify, Inc. Ben is doing important work in nurse recruiting and helping nurses realize their potential as they move into new areas as well as take the entrepreneurial route. Here are some questions Anne posed to Ben to learn more about new models nurses and case managers are looking at as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q:HOW DO YOU SEE THE WORKFORCE CHANGING BECAUSE OF COVID-19?
Ben: I like this quote by Florence Nightingale: “Never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.”
Florence Nightingale’s words resonated in the 19th century and continue to resonate today. The evolution of nursing can be tracked back to several “practical beginnings.” Although it is too early to identify all of the evolutionary paths the nursing practice will take due to COVID-19, the rise of nurse case managers in the “gig economy” is certainly beginning to take root.
Q:TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT NURSEIFY, INC.
A: Nurseify, Inc. is a startup, on-demand, gig economy, staffing application for licensed registered nurses, advanced practice registered nurses, nurse leaders and nursing students interested in working short-term assignments at healthcare facilities. Nurses create profiles that highlight their experience and credentials. Nurses set their own hourly rates and shift preferences (e.g., days of the week, shift duration, day shift vs. night shift, etc.). Healthcare facilities look for nurses to meet their short-term staffing needs and can also post their short-term assignment needs on the application. Nurseify, Inc. was founded on May 12, 2020.
Q:WE HEAR A NEW TERM ‘THE GIG ECONOMY’. WHAT IS THAT?
A: The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines gig economy as, “the economic activity that involves the use of temporary or freelance workers to perform jobs typically in the service sector” (Source: Meriam-Webster dictionary). Nurses working on temporary or short-term assignments through a staffing agency is a very mature model. Over the last five years, the traditional, agency-based, travel nursing or contract nursing model has evolved with the creation of technologies that empower nurses to work independently. In 2020, we saw a significant rise in all nurses exploring travel nursing and the gig economy, including nurse case managers.
Prior to COVID-19, we projected some nurse case managers would be interested in the gig economy, but we assumed that the vast majority of interest would come from “bedside” nurses. Due to the complexity of the support provided by nurse case managers, we also projected lower interest in the gig economy model from healthcare facilities. Although “bedside” nurses account for a majority of the nurse profiles in the application, we saw a 60% increase in nurse case manager profile creation between October 2020 and December 2020 (Source: Nurseify.app database). In addition, over half of the 60+ healthcare facilities that were introduced to the app in Q4-2020 identified nurse case management as a top three need. During onboarding discussions with hospital senior leaders, they explained that the two biggest drivers of short-term nurse case management support are (1) the additional work required to coordinate post-acute care for COVID-19 patients and (2) the backlog of work in the case management department due to full-time nurse case managers being deployed to the bedside.
Q:HOW IS THE PAY STRUCTURE CHANGING TO MEET NEW ROLES?
A: Since nurses set their own hourly rate in the Nurseify application, we are able to collect unique insight on the compensation requirements for nurses working in different specialties. In Q4-2020 alone, we saw the average hourly rates set by all nurses increase by 22% from Q3 averages; we saw the average hourly rates for nurses that self-identified as nurse case managers increase by 31% from Q3 averages. Healthcare facilities are also feeling the nurse supply and demand challenges exacerbated by COVID-19. Maximum bill rate thresholds set by healthcare facilities increased by almost 40% in Q4-2020 compared to Q3-2020 (Source: Nurseify.app database).
Q:BEN: CAN YOU GIVE US AN EXAMPLE OF HOW THE PROCESS CAN WORK?
A: The response to COVID-19 on patient care is creating new business models and is increasing demand for the skills and expertise provided by nurse case managers. A startup healthcare organization founded by a group of oncology physicians engaged Nurseify to bring on nurses to support the launch of a telehealth oncology navigation program. The skills and qualifications requested by the startup telehealth organization align extremely well with the skills, qualifications and expertise of nurse case managers. Since the startup telehealth organization will provide virtual navigation support, the geographic search for nurses was expanded to include the entire United States. The startup organization is building out the full-time staffing model, so 26-week assignments, or gigs, were created for the nurses that will help launch the program.
Closing Thoughts: It is too early to know exactly where the healthcare gig economy will go, but the macroeconomic challenges facing the healthcare industry will create new opportunities for nurse case managers to provide care. The skills and expertise of nurse case managers are increasing in demand due to the evolution of healthcare business models. Nurse case managers are well-positioned to leverage the gig economy to maximize their clinical, professional, and/or entrepreneurial aspirations.