In the Worx | A Healthworx Podcast
The future of work has arrived. With the gig economy in full swing, workers are choosing when and where they want to work. That goes for bellhops, for contractors, and increasingly, for healthcare workers.
We recently talked with Todd Walrath, CEO of HomeCare.com and ShiftMed, about the healthcare workforce management platform that’s capitalizing on this emerging trend, while delivering quality, credentialed healthcare on-demand to hospitals, assisted living providers, and Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs).
In the episode, we discuss:
Let's dig in; check out the highlights from the interview below.
“Consumers are more involved in their healthcare than they’ve ever been.” — Todd Walrath
Workers are going to use the latest technology.
They're not going to drive to an office in a car they don't own and sit in the lobby with their printed-out resume and a folder of their credentials. That world still exists, but it's not going to exist for very long.
Healthcare professionals want to download their credentials on a mobile platform. They want to interview on Zoom, or maybe not even participate in an interview if they're fully credentialed. I think we're probably two or three years into a five-year trend of workers using their mobile phone to manage their work life.
Contractors in other fields can pick up jobs on Fiverr or Upwork. In healthcare, nurses can now work across settings. Other healthcare workers want the option to build their own work packages, too.
Can we shift the hiring and staffing model without diminishing healthcare quality?
In no industry is quality more important than it is in healthcare.
Quality isn’t just about the delivery of care to patients, but it’s also about the quality of the workforce delivering that care. New technology lets workers clock in and keep all their credentials in one place, an improvement from past systems.
Moreover, supervisors can monitor workers and give feedback on every shift. They can collect data and score the worker, ultimately rewarding them for good work and punishing poor performance. The fact is, healthcare doesn’t need 60,000 mediocre workers. It needs 15,000 good ones.
As Todd puts it, "We can improve and dry clean the quality of our entire worker base."
Hospitals, too, need to up their game. Internationally, about 40% of the workers are contingent, meaning, they are contractors working across multiple settings. In the U.S. that number stands at less than 20%, but it's growing fast.
The question now is, how do we balance how the worker wants to work with the quality of care we expect to provide?
Nothing impacts the quality of care more than having too few workers.
So we need to find ways to connect workers with jobs.
“A big change that's happened over the last two or three years is workers using their mobile phone to manage their work life.” — Todd Walrath
Caregivers look for jobs online. They download apps like ShiftMed, and then they provide information about themselves in exchange for job leads.
At first, ShiftMed’s popularity created a high-class problem — too many workers joining and not enough ways to deploy them. It was an issue of too many buyers and not enough sellers. You need a balance.
When we had the supply side, I thought we were onto something. I just needed to figure out how to connect to the demand side. That led us to add the hospital side of the brand and develop a fully functional two-sided marketplace. This is when we saw revenue really start to climb. Today, we have 20,000 requests per week for workers.
Investors are interested in that growth.
“We have to find a way to get caregivers more money, and the only way to get them more money is to take some of the costs out of the process.” — Todd Walrath
People say, "Why don't employers just pay their workers more?"
...As if that would keep the status quo intact.
It's a tricky Rubik's cube on the homecare side. Customers might pay $30 an hour to have a care worker come to their home. That means you pay for a physical office, credentialing, a payroll person, a nurse to oversee everything — just to implement a single care worker in one home. That overhead takes $17 of the $30 right away.
Then, the owner gets $2, and that leaves around $11 an hour for the care worker. People can't work for that. They'll head over to Wal-Mart or drive for Amazon instead.
Do the math above and you figure out that a chunk of change is getting taken out to pay for a physical plant. Building a cloud-based version of a homecare agency decreases consumer costs, increases care worker pay, and improves profitability.
Win. Win. Win.
The problem isn't greed; It's a question of whether we can — and will — build a technological experience that contemporary healthcare workers will buy into.
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