RamaOnHealthcare October 27, 2023
Putting a Nurse at the Bedside of Every Patient in Need
Today, RamaOnHealthcare welcomes and talks with Curtis Anderson, CEO and Founder of Nursa, to put a nurse at the bedside of every patient in need. He has grown Nursa since 2019 with an average of 67% MoM revenue growth. He leads Nursa today from headquarters in Lake Bonneville outside of Salt Lake City and is passionate about making the process of care delivery more efficient for everyone.
RamaOnHealthcare (ROH): Welcome, Curtis! Tell us about yourself and Nursa.
Curtis Anderson (CA): Growing up in small-town Idaho, I had to learn how to make my own fun, so I started building my first computer at age 12. That love of technology and passion for assembling the right pieces to create something with the potential to make a profound impact only grew as I got older. I earned a business management, administration, and operations degree from Utah State University and owned a couple of companies, including an IT support business and a nurse staffing agency.
After years of observing the operational and financial challenges surrounding temporary nurse staffing and the pitfalls of relying on an agency approach, I built a tech-based solution that disrupts the status quo. That is Nursa, and we began in 2019 in Salt Lake City. Each step has brought me to where I am now: steering a team of dedicated professionals who are just as committed as I am to delivering nurse talent where it otherwise might not have been available.
Today, Nursa is a nationwide platform supporting our mission to put a nurse at the bedside of every needy patient.
Today, Nursa is a nationwide platform supporting our mission to put a nurse at the bedside of every needy patient.
Our real-time technology enables hospitals, health systems, skilled nursing facilities, and community organizations to easily secure qualified, local nursing talent for per diem shifts, alleviating burdens on short-staffed units and decreasing the likelihood of poor patient outcomes and staff burnout. I’m proud of our success to date: Nursa is trusted by a growing community of over 1,300 facilities and 95,000 nurses nationwide. It is Gold Seal accredited by The Joint Commission and is the only nationwide partner of our kind with the American Red Cross.
ROH: We frequently hear about the nurse staffing crisis and its impact on the healthcare system. What are some of the challenges the industry faces that are causing the shortage?
CA: Some factors contributing to healthcare workforce shortages apply to almost every industry: the number of U.S. citizens reaching ages 65 and up is accelerating as the Baby Boomer generation matures. This leads to increased demand for healthcare services. But patients aren’t the only ones getting older. Today, about 1 million Registered Nurses are older than 50, meaning one-third of the workforce could reach retirement age in the next 10 to 15 years. Meanwhile, job satisfaction and safety remain behemoth challenges. Workplace violence is a concern in every corner of the country, and burnout is pervasive. Existing scheduling and staff ratio requirements across the healthcare continuum leave staff feeling overwhelmed, underappreciated, unseen, and unheard.
According to projections by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 193,100 openings for registered nurses are projected each year, on average, over the next decade. Many of these openings are expected to result from replacing workers who transfer to different occupations or exiting the labor force, such as to retire.
Dissatisfaction within the nursing field is the main cause of what appears to be a nursing “shortage.” Plenty of capable, hard-working nurses still want to remain in practice – but only under the right conditions. The good news is that with the flexibility offered by Nursa, nurses are more in charge of determining that for themselves than ever.
Additionally, the pipeline from training and education to a workforce-ready nursing population must keep up with the need. The number of nurse faculty has reached dangerously low levels. This puts a stranglehold on new nurses entering the healthcare ecosystem. Without innovation and systemic change, the nursing profession will continue to see nurses leaving the profession or being unable to pursue careers in the field because of the lack of educators, high turnover, and facilities struggling to attract and retain qualified talent. Some nurses who utilize our platform are students who need flexibility in their work to accommodate continuing education, so we are proud that Nursa can support the profession’s future in this way.
ROH: The staffing crisis isn’t a new issue, and the pandemic exacerbated it. Why hasn’t there been meaningful progress in solving it?
CA: The reality is that the nurse staffing shortage has been an issue for decades, but it didn’t become a topic of mainstream conversation or attention until the pandemic. I’m grateful the discussion is now receiving attention. Even as frontline healthcare workers like nurses were revered for their bravery and commitment, COVID took a dramatic toll on an already-strained system and workforce.
One out of three nurses wanted to leave bedside nursing in 2022, and nine out of 10 believe the nursing shortage is getting worse, according to a survey by Nurse.org.
Immobility, inefficiency, and warped views of nurses as cost centers rather than crucial care team members have contributed to the state we find the industry in. The way forward will be predicated on flexibility, a willingness to adapt to change, and embracing the digital frontier as we’ve done with clinical challenges to solve operational challenges.
…warped views of nurses as cost centers rather than crucial care team members….
ROH: Many apps and staffing agencies are on the market today to help health systems fill staffing gaps. What novel approach is Nursa taking to address them?
CA: Nursa functions as a true two-way marketplace platform, connecting facilities needing per diem staff with qualified healthcare professionals. And while our business operates nationally across state lines, our model provides a very localized, community-based solution for both nurses and facilities. We stand apart from traditional service-based W-2 agencies in our ability to provide reliable help in the very short term. Last year, over 55% of the shifts posted on Nursa were filled and had a nurse on site in less than 24 hours. And when facilities choose Nursa, no contracts or minimums are required; our partners only pay for the shifts that are filled.
…our ability to provide reliable help in the very short term.
Our success is not only measured by our speed of response, nor is cost savings the primary goal. Yes, Nursa’s 1099 approach to staffing is cheaper than using an agency or requiring existing employees to work additional shifts. Our model also improves morale and alleviates burnout among employees and administrators. We provide flexibility to talented nurses who can utilize our marketplace to work when and where they want so they can achieve the work-life balance that so often eludes W-2 professionals. Nursa fits their lifestyle while helping facilities meet regulatory and safety needs.
Nursa fits their lifestyle while helping facilities meet regulatory and safety needs.
Thought leaders are noticing that Nursa is different, too. The New York Stock Exchange recently included Nursa in its latest episode of “Ones to Watch,” acknowledging our organization as one of 10 stand-out private companies in Utah. And in a recent article on workplace evolution, Fast Company spotlighted Nursa as a standout among other tech companies that give hope to the childcare crisis that plagues working parents, noting, “We’ve also been encouraged by the emergence of nurse staffing platforms like Nursa … which make it easier for nurses seeking flexible work to connect with facilities in need of staffing support.”
ROH: Ultimately, the staffing shortage affects all aspects of the healthcare system. What areas is Nursa specifically trying to improve?
CA: What it means to serve as a nurse and the expectations that accompany this role must evolve. We must be amenable to adapting to this shift in nursing workforce mentalities and priorities. It all comes down to flexibility and precision – two things that may sound like they should be at odds with each other but aren’t when they are leveraged properly. I recently got into an Uber and discovered in conversation that my driver was a nurse. He didn’t leave the bedside because he stopped wanting to be a nurse. He left because of the way he’d been treated. Nursa enables nurses like him to continue being nurses as we reliably connect the right clinicians to the right place at the right time.
…we reliably connect the right clinicians to the right place at the right time.
Maintaining a healthy and satisfied pool of qualified clinicians means ensuring they have the tools and options to feel empowered and valued in their roles. At Nursa, we’re determined to improve transparency for both facilities and nurses. Pay rates are clearly displayed on our platform, and users can search for available shifts by location. Health system partners create the compliance list that is applied to a shift, unit, or facility, enabling them to easily match nurse profiles to available positions. Machine-learning algorithms drive a more streamlined onboarding process, which further lightens the administrative lift for both parties.
Accountability is key to our success. Nursa’s built-in rating system indicates a measure of quality for each nurse based on previous experiences with that clinician. Then, facilities can choose to work with specific nurses again and again to promote continuity of care. They can even hire them full-time without fees because who are we to interrupt serendipity?
ROH: Let’s talk about the 1099 versus W-2 conversation. Some say the 1099 nurse classification is a risk for facilities; others argue that W-2s don’t offer nurses enough flexibility. What is your perspective?
CA: The challenge in this discussion is how we frame it – pitting 1099s against W-2s. It’s focusing on a symptom rather than the underlying cause. The whole conversation needs to shift from hyper-fixating on the tax filing status of these highly qualified, devoted nursing professionals to focusing on the need: placing nurses at the bedsides of patients who deserve the best in care.
In hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, staffing needs don’t change daily; they evolve by the hour. It’s an unpredictable problem. That’s why the answer must be anchored in flexibility. The best way to meet these complex and shifting demands is to rely on a nimble, tech-enabled solution. Nursa purposefully utilizes a 1099 approach, which is demonstrably cheaper than staffing by agency or overtime. Our platform supports flexibility for both clinicians and facilities. It’s a solution that empowers users from both sides of the marketplace to act in real-time and meet common goals: to serve patients and ensure nurses are fulfilled.
ROH: What will it take to get nurse staffing to a sustainable level?
CA: Most nurses consider their profession to be a calling. We need to improve the pathways that allow these caregivers to be where they are needed most—and where they want to be.
Most nurses consider their profession to be a calling.
Achieving a sustainable model for nurse staffing requires major cultural shifts within the nursing education and healthcare staffing industries. There is no “cure-all” for the nursing shortage, but it starts with a willingness to examine the problem from a variety of perspectives. Only then can we effectively source solutions from across a spectrum of stakeholders.
…it starts with a willingness to examine the problem from a variety of perspectives.
As a technologist and lifelong learner, I am not excited about complacency. I’ve built a team around me that embodies Nursa’s values every day: Execution is everything. Relationships matter. Act intelligently. Be curious.
Together, we’re repairing the broken roads that have led us to this challenging place and paving the way for nurses, facilities – and, most importantly, patients – to succeed.
More about Curtis: When not at work, you can find him out of cell reception, in the pool, or on the ski slopes with his three children and wife, Stacie.
ROH: Thank you so much for sharing your insights and expertise with our Readers. We wish you all the very best!