Todd Walrath is the founder and CEO of ShiftMed, a digital workforce management platform founded in 2018, which recruits, credentials and schedules licensed CNAs, LPNs and RNs to work at health care providers.

Prince: Tell me about ShiftMed and how you work with hospitals and other healthcare providers.

Walrath: ShiftMed is the largest mobile app in the U.S. focused on nurses. Our workforce management platform connects hospitals, assisted living providers, skilled nursing facilities and Home care companies to licensed nurses—CNAs, LPNs and RNs. We’re currently the #1 nursing jobs app with more than 250,000 downloads in the past year, and we serve more than 1,000 enterprise health-care partners across the country in 56 markets.

ShiftMed is at the intersection of two industry problems. The first is the shortage of nurses and caregivers across the U.S., which is only expected to become more of an issue with aging boomers retiring, and the pandemic continues to put pressure on the health-care workforce. The second issue is retention. In our recent Annual State of Nursing Survey, 56% of first-year nurses are reportedly expecting to leave their job within two years. ShiftMed helps with retention of nurses by providing them the ability to earn a living wage, shift flexibility and other desired features like health-care benefits. ShiftMed’s technology solves both of these problems. 

For the first time nurses can use their mobile device to manage their work schedules from selecting shifts and their rate of pay, to managing their credentials and getting paid right after their shift with our signature Next Day Pay® feature. Our platform enables hospitals, assisted living providers and skilled nursing facilities to reach their required staffing levels while allowing crucial frontline healthcare professionals to claim shifts when and where they want. 

The most common question I’m asked by providers is, “Where do we find the workers?”  Over the last seven years we have built a national database of nurses across 700 geographies in the U.S. We have access to more than six million nurses on our platform and are constantly connecting them with local work opportunities. We also help them keep their credentials current with more than 60,000 fully credentialed nurses available to our partners.  

Our nurses get to work when and where they want. There are no minimums. It’s exactly what the worker wants it to be. Being able to offer opportunities across different providers, with a range of time slots and locations, is very disruptive. It also doesn’t hurt when you can bundle in Guaranteed Shifts®, a program that gives ShiftMed employees peace of mind, knowing they still get paid if a shift is canceled, as differentiators.

Our partners want to drive patient outcomes—they want that same worker to come back, they want to offer consistency of care and drive their core metrics they are measuring. Our workers help them achieve all those outcomes, so they are offering better care.

Prince: The exodus of nurses from their profession has been taking place for quite some time, well before the Great Resignation and fallout from Covid. How did we get here?  

Walrath: Despite an outpouring of public appreciation for health-care workers during the pandemic, reports show that there will continue to be a mass exodus of health-care workers even as the pandemic slows. 

While nursing shortages have been a part of U.S. history over time, the magnitude of the current shortage can be traced all the way back to 2012 and is predicted to last through 2030. There isn’t a single driving force behind the shortage but a mix of factors.  

For starters, demand is skyrocketing as the population ages. More nurses will be needed to care for the 65+ demographic, which is expected to grow to over 73 million by 2030 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This also means that a large portion of the nursing workforce will soon retire as nearly half—47.5%—of all RNs are now over the age of 50. 

A 2015 study predicted that more than one million RNs will retire from the workforce between now and 2030; however, this number has been skewed as the pandemic created a wave of early retirements due to hospitals forgoing elective surgeries and forcing budget cuts. As hospitals cut back on their staff, the nurses who remained were burdened with longer working hours and near-unmanageable workloads. 

As we move past the pandemic, hopefully sooner rather than later, health-care leadership must focus on retaining their staff by paying attention to what they need. As the new generation of workers hit the market and value different things, there’s a growing movement of health-care workers wanting more flexibility in their schedules and better work-life balance. Millennials and Gen Z don’t want to take the graveyard shifts or work on weekends while they pay their dues and make their way through the caste system that health care has created.

Retention should be the main focus. Health-care leadership should offer more opportunities in training, career pathing and management to ensure they aren’t losing the staff they already have. Nurses have become the backbone of our country as we fight the pandemic, and we need to do more to support them as the industry continues to face challenges.  

Prince: You recently raised a significant amount of capital. Is this a sector you feel will become even more attractive to investors as we navigate the effects of the ongoing pandemic?

Walrath: Yes. In 2021, ShiftMed raised $45 million to expand our national footprint and continue building our industry-leading product suite to help health-care providers fill open shifts. But we aren’t the only industry players who have raised capital and reported growth over the past year. Staffing Industry Analysts estimated that the healthcare segment of the U.S. temporary staffing market is estimated to have grown to $24.7 billion in 2021, up from $19 million in 2020. While some predict the market will contract in 2022, the health-care industry still faces the stark reality that many nurses are considering leaving the industry.

Investors are looking for growth and applying cloud based technology solutions to fragmented manual industry like staffing has created many fast growing companies. Incorporating an innovative nurse staffing platform into a health-care facility’s workforce management toolkit ensures a steady supply of fresh staff to provide better care outcomes while alleviating the pressure on internal staff who may also be feeling the effects of burnout. Tech-enabled nurse staffing platforms also have the benefit of encouraging repeat healthcare professionals as 80% of the agency staff working through these platforms return to the same facility week over week, driving high continuity of care and ensuring that nurses have a manageable workload.

This sector of health tech is the future of workforce management in health care and will be instrumental in reducing staff turnover and increasing retention. 

Request a complimentary PDF copy of Elite Wealth Planning: Lessons from the Super Rich at [email protected].