RN Will Patterson relied on his natural nursing innovation to create CareRev, a gig-worker platform that aids both hospital staffing and nurses looking to easily pick up extra shifts.
Will Patterson was an intensive care unit RN, looking to pay down a six-figure student loan debt, but staffing in 2015 essentially consisted of full- or part-time jobs. He had a full-time job; committing to weekends and night shifts on top of that full-time job did not suit him.
But nurses are known to be natural healthcare innovators, and Patterson began working on a solution to a situation shared by many other nurses.
The result was CareRev, a platform where hospitals, outpatient clinics, and skilled nursing facilities post open shifts and qualified healthcare professionals book them. The app requires no contracts, maximums, minimums, or commitments.
Now, Patterson is CEO of Los Angeles-based CareRev, which not only helps nurses easily pick up more shifts, but also provides healthcare facilities with convenient staffing solutions to fluctuating demands—another problem he witnessed and wanted to help solve.
It appears to be an answer. Patterson’s innovation, started with the help of his wife, who had started three technology companies prior, serves 32 major metropolitan areas nationwide in which there are more than 70 hospitals and health systems and more than 540 outpatient centers and skilled nursing facilities.
More than 22,000 nurses and other healthcare providers also have signed up to provide staffing to those healthcare facilities.
HealthLeaders spoke with Patterson about how he saw a problem and worked to solve it.
This transcript has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
HealthLeaders: Explain the staffing problems you experienced that led to your innovation.
Will Patterson: I went to Duke and then worked all around the country and one of my biggest frustrations was the inability to match the supply of professionals with the demand of patients in real time. As we all know, if you have a bunch of patients come into your ICU and your staff is based on staffing averages over the past years and this is an abnormal night, you end up going short. When you go short, you take on a third or fourth patient, and that causes burnout. You're having to chart everybody and it's just it's a mess and you feel like you can't produce at the same clinical level that you could, and for me that caused guilt and burnout. So fundamentally, I wanted to solve this problem.
And going along with this, when I wasn't at work, I was looking for extra shifts to pay down that six figures of student debt I had from Duke, and I couldn't find anything. I couldn't easily source work. I'd have to go through a long hiring process and then I'd have to commit to weekends and nights on top of a full-time job. There was no flexible piece for me … [and then] I found one job that I really loved.
I was an independent contractor working in the back of an ambulance delivering patients as a critical care transport nurse. And I loved that job. And so I broke down what it was about that job that, fundamentally, I wanted to share with all healthcare professionals across the United States.
The first was the empowerment for me to choose my own schedule and work whenever I wanted. The second was the feeling of being my own boss and being able to perform in the back of that ambulance on my nursing license and not have a heavy political environment. I wanted to take this feeling and give it to every healthcare professional so they could feel empowered as well.
HL: What are some of the benefits of the per diem scheduling for the hospitals?
Patterson: For the hospitals, the primary one is that they're able to drive down their labor costs, especially the external labor, the travel contracts. Hospitals are getting this local pool of contractors that can work when you need them and where you need them. You don't have to commit to a 16-week contract and the exorbitant prices associated with flying somebody in and putting them up with housing and dealing with a staffing agency.
The second benefit here for them is the retention. They’re working with these local professionals and they’re in their system for years, so they know their patients and they know their organization, and that’s a huge benefit.
The third benefit is optimizing their operational efficiency; because we're integrating into their different workforce systems, they're not having to do double work. We’re automating out a lot of the scheduling and the workflow. We're also building software for their own internal pools, so they’re gaining a ton of operational efficiency and with that comes data so they can make better staffing decisions.
HL: How do you see it helping with the nursing shortage?
Patterson: Two in five nurses are thinking about leaving the field, so essentially, you have a leaky bucket, and we keep piling healthcare professionals on top of it, but they're still leaking out and leaving the field and going other industries or retiring.
One fundamental benefit of our platform is that we're able to bring people back into the field. So, folks that have retired that just want to engage 6.7 shifts a month—which is our average shifts work per professional—we’re able to bring them back in the field. That’s where we're bringing this latent supply back into the industry who otherwise is leaving.
HL: Is CareRev just for nurses or have you expanded into other healthcare providers?
Patterson: We've expanded. We work with CNAs (certified nursing assistants), respiratory therapists, x-ray technicians, surgical technicians, to name a few. We have a team looking at moving up vertical to doctors, as well. We're not there yet, but [we’ll serve] pretty much all allied health care professionals.
HL: What are the benefits of this kind of scheduling for nurses and for other healthcare providers?
Patterson: What we’ve seen is a paradigm shift and what labor wants, and healthcare systems are recognizing this, too. [They say] flexibility is the new currency for labor and that flexibility is a large part of what keeps professionals engaged using our platform. Even more importantly is keeping them in the workforce that allows them to schedule around their personal lives and step away when needed.
All we’re doing is taking where labor wants to go and matching it to what the healthcare systems need.
“All we’re doing is taking where labor wants to go and matching it to what the healthcare systems need.”
— Will Patterson, CEO, CareRev
Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.
A nurse looking for flexibility in picking up extra shifts turned to technology to solve his dilemma.
His app not only benefits gig nurses, but it helps hospitals with staffing during patient surges.
The app’s expansion will eventually include all healthcare workers.