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How IntelyCare uses artificial intelligence to solve the nursing shortage crisis

An interview with David Coppins, IntelyCare's co-founder and CEO

Entrepreneur interview by Steven Loeb
November 7, 2018
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/4c99

Nurses are the unsung heroes of the healthcare space, doing a lot of the work but not getting anywhere near as much credit as they probably should. We might start appreciating them soon, though, as there is going to be a shortage of 1.2 million nurses in just a few years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Combine that with the aging boomers who will need increasingly nursing care, and you've got a recipe for disaster. 

As with most problems in the healthcare system, the solution is better technology, more specifically big data and artificial intelligence. That's the solution being brought to market by IntelyCare, an intelligent workforce management solution for post-acute healthcare facilities.

Incorporated in 2015 as a homecare business, the Quincy, Massachusetts-based IntelyCare saw the opportunity to address the market’s major needs with a tech-enabled solution, and that’s when it started building the current platform in 2016. 

Earlier this week, IntelyCare announced a $10.8 million Series A round, led by Leerink Revelation Partners with participation from Longmeadow Capital, previous investor LRVHealth and Bill Mantzoukas, an entrepreneur who has owned and operated a series of skilled nursing facilities. 

The company, which has now raised $14 million in total funding, will be using the new money to dedicate more resources to onboarding nursing professionals and healthcare facilities, and to expand the features and functionality of its platform.

In addition to the new funding, it was also announced that Scott Halsted, managing partner at Leerink Revelation Partners, has joined IntelyCare’s board of director

David Coppins, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of IntelyCare, spoke to VatorNews about the nursing shortage, how it solves it and how artificial intelligence is changing healthcare. 
 
VatorNews: Why is the nursing shortage such a big problem? When did it start and what is making it worse?

David Coppins: There’s a big nursing shortage in the U.S. that’s only getting worse as Baby Boomers age and is expected to reach 1.2 million RN vacancies by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This already leads to overworked nurses (i.e. double-shifts and multiple weekends per month) and forces healthcare facilities to use multiple temp staffing agencies to fill gaps in coverage. As a result, the temporary healthcare staffing market is a $17 billion business, according to Staffing Industry Analysts, a big business that IntelyCare’s technology is disrupting.

VN: Walk me through IntelyCare’s solution. How does it differ than previous solutions?

DC: IntelyCare’s solution is an intelligent workforce management solution that is currently focused on a segment of the market with the most need: post-acute healthcare facilities. The company’s deep understanding of nurse and facility needs at a local level, driven by its intelligent matching and pricing engine, provides a seamless solution to staffing challenges with minimal manual involvement. It allows facilities to fill shifts in as little as 12 hours in advance and predictive analytics help forecast potential openings weeks in advance, making it easier to immediately fill shifts once they’re officially posted.

Healthcare facilities pay a flat rate to help them simplify planning and budgeting, and the wages that nurses earn are dynamically priced based on the ease or difficulty of filling a shift, a key component to IntelyCare’s industry-leading fill rates.

IntelyCare considers dozens of data elements and more than 600,000 observations – such as past behavior, time or day of shift, medical specialties and certifications, geography, pay rates and familiarity with a facility – to present nurses with the shifts they’re most likely to accept.

We give nursing professionals freedom and flexibility to pick up extra shifts and augment their income when it’s convenient for them, without the prerequisites that staffing firms mandate, such as a certain number of days or weekends worked per month. Nurses use a mobile app to quickly view a list of open shifts – tailored to their needs, preferences and abilities. On average, nurses who use IntelyCare open the app on their phone five times per day.

IntelyCare is headquartered just outside of Boston in Quincy, and that’s the only office. This highlights one of the big differences between IntelyCare and traditional staffing firms. IntelyCare understands local markets because it uses local data better than anyone, but it doesn’t need a physical presence. This allows IntelyCare to scale much more quickly than a traditional firm.

VN: Who is the typical customer for you? What size healthcare facility do you work with?

DC: IntelyCare works with post-acute facilities of all sizes, including skilled nursing facilities, long-term care, assisted living, etc. Some of its customers operate a single site, while others manage dozens of facilities.

Helping facilities fill shifts is a big part of what IntelyCare does; its fill rates are much higher than anyone else in the industry, and the company can fill shifts faster than anyone else. But that capability is driven by its deep understanding of nurses and facilities at a hyper-local level. It allows IntelyCare to create deep partnerships with facilities and become an integral part of their workforce management.

Also, the platform goes beyond staffing and scheduling. For example, on-demand reporting takes the headaches out of regulatory audits, and IntelyCare is expanding its educational training to make sure its nurses and CNAs have the most current and relevant content.

VN: How many facilities are currently using the solution? How are you growing?

DC: IntelyCare works with hundreds of facilities across four states and is growing very quickly. In the past year, IntelyCare has doubled the number of nursing professionals and facilities on the platform. And it currently has tens of thousands of nursing professionals and hundreds of facilities on the platform. IntelyCare expects this growth to continue.

VN: What kind of ROI have your customers seen? Do you have any hard numbers to share?

DC: IntelyCare’s pricing and matching engine has made a massive difference in helping facilities get the coverage they need without burning out their full-time staff. A traditional agency will only be able to fill about 20 percent to 25 percent of shifts, and that’s why facilities have to work with multiple agencies. IntelyCare can fill 70 percent to 80 percent of shifts because its intelligent platform understands the needs of both nurses and local facilities and brings them together. IntelyCare’s matching engine is able to help to drive up these fill rates at the same price or less than most traditional agencies.

VN: How has AI changed the healthcare space in recent years? What do you see as the next step in the evolution?

DC: AI is quickly becoming a big part of the technology landscape for any industry, including healthcare. Its impact is expanding across the healthcare continuum in both clinical and operational capacities and will become even more entrenched in the tools we use every day. At IntelyCare, we’re just scratching the surface on data analysis and we believe that AI will be able to unlock conclusions that we were previously unable to see. As the database continues to grow, it will be able to provide even greater workforce insights to help our clients achieve even better productivity.

VN: What does Scott Halsted bring to the company as a member of the board of directors?

DC: Scott Halsted brings two-sided marketplace experience to IntelyCare. All other investors have deep healthcare operating and investing experience. Scott knows on-demand marketplaces and two-sided marketplaces, and how those should scale.

VN: What is your ultimate goal with IntelyCare? Where do you want to see the company in the next 5 years?

DC: Right now, IntelyCare is focused on a segment of the market that has the most need – post-acute care settings. Eventually, it will expand beyond post-acute, but doesn’t have a timeframe right now. IntelyCare is planning on doubling its geographic footprint beyond Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Ohio in 2019 and will have more news to share about expansion over the next year.

In the next 5 years, IntelyCare will be nationwide, playing a significant role in helping facilities manage their workforce so they can deliver better care despite the shortage of nursing professionals. Our platform will be an important resource for nurses who want more freedom and flexibility to work where and when they choose. Since IntelyCare is a tech-enabled solution, it’s able to scale and expand to new geographies very quickly.