RamaOnHealthcare September 3, 2023

Doing What We Love – Caring for Patients

RamaOnHealthcare talks with Alexi Nazem, M.D., Co-founder and CEO of Nomad Health. Dr. Nazem is committed to making transformational changes in the healthcare system. In addition to leading Nomad Health, Alexi is a Department of Medicine faculty member at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York Presbyterian Hospital. Alexi has a B.S. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University, an M.D. from Yale University School of Medicine, and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Alexi Nazem, M.D., Co-founder, and CEO of Nomad Health

Alexi Nazem, M.D., Co-founder and CEO of Nomad Health

RamaOnHealthcare (ROH): Welcome, Dr. Nazem. Can you share a bit about your background and Nomad Health?

Dr. Alexi Nazem (AN): Before founding Nomad Health, I was an Internal Medicine Doctor working as a Hospitalist. My co-founders and I, two of whom are also physicians, had our own difficult and cumbersome experiences with the healthcare recruiting process. We all felt there could be a higher-quality experience that could help clinicians get to the bedside more quickly and efficiently to do what we were trained to do and love to do, which is care for patients. I expected there would also be a similar opportunity and savings for the people who were hiring us at hospitals and healthcare facilities.

We set out to solve that problem using technology to modernize the healthcare staffing industry. We wanted to put control back in the hands of clinicians and health systems, to introduce much more transparency, and to create more efficiency and automation.
need to do more.

…put control back in the hands of clinicians and health systems….

ROH: When you founded Nomad Health, there hadn’t been much change to the healthcare staffing industry in half a century. How have you modernized the process?

AN: We were the first technology company to enter the space, which hadn’t changed in about 50 years since the healthcare staffing industry started in the 70s. It was totally people-powered, offline, manual, cumbersome – a lot of back and forth and very frustrating. I once took a locum tenens job that took me ten months to organize, including completing a 94-page application (twice!), and in the end, I only worked for three days.

That is the level of friction you experience with traditional staffing firms. You can book an Uber, an Airbnb, or a flight online in minutes, yet I’m faxing hand-written applications to get a doctor to a place that really needs it. We knew there was a huge opportunity to help transform healthcare by making it more efficient, transparent, and scalable using marketplace technology.

…there was a huge opportunity to help transform healthcare….

ROH: What problem is Nomad Health solving? What is your piece of the healthcare staffing puzzle?

AN: Nomad Health is a Joint Commission-accredited healthcare staffing company built from the ground up on a technology platform. And because of that, we can offer thousands of healthcare facilities and more than 300,000 clinicians a far superior experience, and much better economics.

The most important thing we can do is get the clinician to the bedside of the patient who needs them as quickly, efficiently, and in as low-cost a way as possible. Everything else is just the details, and Nomad seamlessly handles all those details — at a large scale. And we do that by automating, through technology, as many aspects of the staffing journey as possible. So, people are doing what only people can do – like being an emotional support or a career coach – and our tech is doing everything else.

The most important thing we can do is get the clinician to the bedside of the patient who needs them….

That means a clinician can be focused on using the skills that took a decade or more to learn rather than the logistics of how to get to the bedside. We serve clinicians so that they can serve patients. That means that we are trying to take all the work out of getting to work. We try to solve every problem with automation, so an agent doesn’t need to be in the middle.

We serve clinicians so that they can serve patients.

ROH: Let’s talk about the role that AI and technology play in healthcare staffing and your platform.

AN: Most things that need to happen, from sourcing a candidate for a job to staffing them and having them work, can be done in an automated, high-scale, technology-driven fashion. We built a very flexible technology platform that helps clinicians discover jobs they are qualified for, demonstrates they have the requisite qualifications, and connects them with health systems that want to hire them – faster and easier than can be accomplished with the traditional recruiter-centric model.

We aim to digitize the entire process, giving clinicians and facilities more visibility and control. Because everything is happening on a digital platform, we have a rich trove of data to help optimize every stage of the process with cutting-edge data science. For example, we use AI to better match clinicians with jobs and jobs with clinicians, and that matching far outperforms the gut instinct of a human recruiter.

…we have a rich trove of data to help optimize every stage of the process with cutting-edge data science.

ROH: What segment of healthcare staffing do you support?

AN: We are focused on staffing travel nurses and travel allied health professionals (e.g., surgical techs, lab techs, ultrasonographers, occupational therapists) to hospitals for short-term assignments, usually 2-3 months long.

Here’s an example: a customer who oversees staffing a major healthcare facility will come to us and say, “I need an emergency room nurse to work for three months starting on October 6th. Can you help me find someone who meets these 12 criteria and wants the job at this price?” Our tools automatically ingest and structure all that information. Then, perfectly qualified clinicians find the job through their own self-directed searching or our platform’s automatic sourcing and notification. Next, they can apply in as little as one click, and then the facility can offer the job after reviewing the detailed profile, references, video interview, and other rich data Nomad sends.

We work with thousands of healthcare facilities in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Through our platform, healthcare facilities have access to over 300,000 qualified, experienced clinicians. Nearly forty percent of Nomad Health nurses have seven or more years of experience. We are also able to get clinicians to the bedside when needed – with 94% on-time starts.

…healthcare facilities have access to over 300,000 qualified, experienced clinicians.

ROH: There are many headlines about the clinician shortage our healthcare system faces. What role do you see temporary healthcare staffing playing in alleviating this shortage?

AN: The temporary healthcare staffing industry is critical in addressing the massive and worsening shortage of clinicians.

We are currently dealing with a major supply-demand mismatch exacerbated by the pandemic. Additionally, the educational pipeline isn’t keeping pace. Turnover is high, and hospitals are struggling to fill vacancies. Approximately 11,000 Americans age into Medicare coverage each day. It is a trend expected to continue until 2030. This compounds the clinician shortage crisis, considering patients 65 and older require three times more healthcare resources than those under 65. That number increases to four times for those 75 and older.

And it’s not just the patients who are aging. One million registered nurses are predicted to reach retirement age within the next decade, meaning we can expect the already short supply of clinicians to reduce further. Estimates show the U.S. will have a national deficit of more than 900,000 RNs by the decade’s end.

Utilizing temporary labor allows facilities to fill the gap and staff smarter and more flexibly against demand. This workforce crisis will continue for a long time, and temporary staffing is a key to the solution.

Additionally, temporary workers are also helping retain more of the clinical workforce by providing a more appealing way to work in healthcare. We saw this in a recent study we conducted, which showed that 76% of travel clinicians are satisfied with their jobs compared to only half of staff clinicians.

Travel affords a more flexible and appealing way to fulfill the calling of a clinician. The flexibility permits you to work where you want, when you want, and away from the hospital politics. Additionally, for our customers, it helps alleviate long shifts for staff, challenging patient-to-staff ratios, and a myriad of situations contributing to staff burnout. Traveling is a great option to avoid that, and it will likely extend the quality and practical length of careers.

More about Dr. Alexi Nazem

Alexi lives in New York with his wife and their young son. His hobbies include tennis and reading.

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