The healthcare industry, even prior to the current pandemic, has never looked much like other industries when it comes to hiring and career management. That was the impetus behind Incredible Health, a startup founded by medical doctor Iman Abuzeid and Amazon alum Rome Portlock. The platform Incredible Health built is all about connecting nurses with jobs – but it goes above and beyond your typical online job board in order to provide better service both to job seekers and hospitals, and to help nurses throughout the course of their careers.
I spoke to Abuzeid, who serves as Incredible Health’s CEO, about some new features that Incredible Health has just introduced, in part to address the particular needs of nurses and hospitals considering the constraints of COVID-19 and the ongoing challenges it presents. She first explained why Incredible is a unique platform to begin with, among a sea of relatively undifferentiated job search products.
“There are three unique things about the platform,” she said. “The first is that the employers apply to the nurses instead of the other way around – which we can do because of this huge supply-demand imbalance. The second is that we’ve automated the screening and pre-vetting of the nurses, so we’re able to automatically verify things like licenses and certifications, and experiences and so on, because we’ve integrated with so many databases. And the third thing we do is custom matching algorithms.”
That means Incredible Health provides hospitals with only matches that meet their exact needs for a specific position requirement, rather than forcing them to wade through large numbers of potential applicants who might not have the skills they need. In a field like nursing, which has a lot of specific professional designations and certifications, specificity actually helps both sides quite a bit.
“The end result of all of that is hires that happen at least three or four times faster,” Abuzeid told me. “Our average right now is 13 days, and the efficiency is about 30 times more efficient than a standard job board. Really, some of the biggest impacts we have are financial – we save on average, each hospital we work with, about $ 2 million per year. We do that by reducing their travel nurse budget, because they don’t have to use as many contract workers when they’re permanently staffed. And we also reduce their overtime costs, and their HR costs.”
Abuzeid also told me that nurses hired through Incredible Health tend to stick around longer. The startup only has about a year of historical data to check against so far, but she said that so far, they’re seeing about 25% percent higher retention vs. the industry average. She added that they suspect this is due largely to the fact that nurses are able to consider multiple offers and hospital options on the platform, since there are often multiple employers vying to hire the same employee, especially in the case of specialization like ICU nurses.
As for what’s new to Incredible Health, the company has introduced automated interview scheduling. Abuzeid says that has led to 70% of interviews being scheduled via automation within 36 hours on the platform currently. The platform has also introduced remote interviewing for safely distanced pre-hiring interactions, and in-app chat between potential employers and nurses right in the iOS, Android and web apps that Incredible Health offers. Profiles for nurses on the platform also now list socialites and skills, from a pre-set catalog of 45 specialities and 250 skills that are specific to the nursing field, like ICU or OR expertise. Abuzeid said that most of these were fast-tracked due to significant changes they were seeing in the hiring process as a result of the COVID pandemic.
“We saw several impacts,” she told me. “First is like the number of offers that started to go out – we see one go out every few hours now. And the number of interview requests is up to one being sent every few minutes. So it’s really accelerated, and that’s been a combination of two things. One is just that we made the software better and more efficient – but the other thing is the urgency also increased on the hospital end given the pandemic.”
Aside from improving the process of hiring vs. traditional methods, and supporting more remote hiring and onboarding workflows, Incredible Health also addresses some of the diversity gaps in the current healthcare industry hiring process. Abuzeid explained that that’s due in part to built-in features of the platform like salary estimate calculators, and adds that some tweaks have been created intentionally to level the playing field.
“30% of nurses identity in the U.S. identify as minorities, so we take diversity pretty seriously because that’s a huge chunk of our user base,” she said. “By giving nurses salary data, it democratizes that and makes you more informed. We also provide talent advocates who are also nurses on our team that support every single nurse, helping them almost as career coach to support them throughout the hiring process.”
Incredible Health also takes steps to ensure the product isn’t itself reinforcing any existing biases that may be present, consciously or otherwise, on the part of hiring parties.
“We random sort the list of the list of nurses as they’re displayed in front of employers and the application, or we use avatars instead of profile pictures,” We’re also constantly monitoring the data that that that’s in the platform. So for example, we noticed that recruiters were biasing against nurses that lived further away. And so we just removed the current location of the nurse, we just stopped displaying that, and that bias went away. So it’s really important that the software and our algorithms actually counter human bias.”
So far, Incredible Health has raised $ 17 million in funding, including a Series A last year led by Jeff Jordan at Andreessen Horowitz. The company is already in use at over 200 hospitals across the U.S., as well as at a number of the largest health care networks in the country, like HCA and Baylor, and at academics medical centres including Cedar Sinai and Stanford as well. The startup is growing quickly by addressing a long-standing need with software designed specifically to the challenge, and looks poised for even more future growth as the demand for qualified, well-supported healthcare professionals grows.
One of the things I’ve learned in working with aspiring entrepreneurs is that managing and leading a team is a scary venture into the unknown for many people, even if they have worked as a business professional for years. Having worked in my own career on both sides of the fence at various times, I recommend that everyone practice thinking like the boss in every role to prepare.
This will improve your effectiveness in your current role, and give you a head start towards a future role, such as startup founder, where you are the boss. You will find that the same key principles apply in both situations, and that every business professional has a boss, and should be a leader in their own domain to others with less experience and expertise.
I found some good insights and details on this approach in the classic book, “How To Be A Great Boss,” by Gino Wickman and René Boer, who speak from years of experience working with leadership teams of both small and large companies. Here is my summary of their key principles on being a great boss, which I will characterize here as applying to any business professional:
- Surround yourself with great people. As an entrepreneur, executive, or team member, you are most impacted by the people you gather around you. The smartest team members and the smartest bosses spend more time with people who are smarter in the relevant domain than they are. Then when you have to hire people, you will pick the best.
- Make more effective use of your own time. We all know bosses and peers who are always too busy, but never seem to get much done. Make sure that person is not you. Free up time for others by eliminating low priority tasks, and delegating items to the right people. Work on habits that improve your productivity, and find better tools every day.
- Understand both leadership and management. In business, leadership consists of creating the vision and direction, while management is primarily about gaining traction to achieve it. You don’t have to be a boss to be a leader or a manager. You should be practicing both in every role, and there will be no surprises as your career evolves.
- Train yourself to follow leadership best practices. If you practice all the key elements of leadership in every role, you will make a great team member or a great boss. These elements include giving clear direction, providing tools and training to the right people, getting out of the way, walking your own talk, and reflecting regularly on the big picture.
- Focus on demonstrating accountability for your actions. Accountability is everyone’s obligation, to accept responsibility for their activities, and to disclose your results in a transparent manner. Accountability cannot be imposed on you by a boss or entrepreneur – it’s a practice that you must learn to impose on yourself to be effective and appreciated.
- Develop productive relationships with people around you. Effective relationships, inside your business and outside, are critical in every professional, management, and leadership role. The most productive people get things done by working in concert with others, not demanding actions and results, but by orchestrating win-win relationships.
- Learn to deal effectively with people who disappoint you. While highly productive relationships lead to success, dysfunctional relationships make you a poor employee and a bad boss. People issues cannot be solved by avoidance or edict. If you surface and manage relationship issues early with respect and minimum emotion, you will be seen as a good team member and a good boss.
Thus, putting yourself in your boss’s shoes to see what they see, and act as you would expect them to act, is the best way to assure success in your role today, or prepare you for the startup founder role you dream about. In fact, the best team members and managers I work with always see themselves as their own boss. Try it – you may find and train that great boss you never had.
Startup Professionals Musings
As we speak, there are professional networks for women executives, mothers, owners of small and medium-sized businesses, and many more.
Medley, a new membership-based community that launches today, is looking to do things a little bit different. Instead of bringing together a specific category of people, the goal of Medley is to connect users with people who aren’t just like them.
Founded by mom and daughter duo Edith Cooper and Jordan Taylor, Medley is backed by a variety of angel investors including Jen Rubio, Tim Armstrong, Damien Dwin, as well as Foundation Capital. The company declined to disclose the amount raised.
Cooper and Taylor told TechCrunch that one of the biggest challenges with the product is defining what it is. Unlike some other professional membership communities, Medley isn’t solely focused on career growth, but rather incorporates personal growth into the framework.
“Medley is really about the connection between your career, your personal growth and your philosophy in life,” said Edith Cooper. “What I experienced is that people no longer want there to be strict barriers between those aspects of their lives.”
Folks who join Medley spend about 15 minutes on the application process, answering a wide range of questions that take a look at personal and professional information, but also at their general psychology and personality type.
From there, Medley matches users into a group of eight with the precise goal of ensuring that there is diversity among that small group. Some may be older, while others are younger. They may come from different racial backgrounds or different industries. Men and women alike will meet together in their groups.
An expert executive coach is also in on these monthly group meetings (which are currently being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic), and guides the group as they share about themselves and learn about their groupmates, all the while focusing on communication.
Prior to Medley, Cooper was a partner at Goldman Sachs for twenty years, and spent the last decade of her tenure as Global Head of Human Capital Management. Taylor was Chief of Staff at Mic, and was also a consultant at Boston Consulting Group and a Baker Scholar from Harvard Business School.
“There is one main theme for my investment thesis, which is the change to direct empowerment and direct ownership of relationships between people and everything else,” said Tim Armstrong . “Just like you may have a direct relationship with your gym or personal trainer — which a lot of people do and it’s an industry that’s growing tremendously — most people have not taken direct ownership of their careers. They end up outsourcing to the companies they work for that don’t have the resources to do development.”
He added that Medley is a gym for your mind and your career.
Medley’s target demographic is people in their late 20s, early 30s, who are starting to think more long-term about their choices both professionally and personally.
That said, part of what makes Medley special is that it’s open to anyone who’s curious to learn, grow and explore other people. As such, Medley is available on an opportunity-based sliding scale for the annual membership fee to ensure the community remains inclusive. Founding memberships are available now for $ 150/month or $ 1,500 annually.
Cooper explained that some of the biggest barriers for Medley are in the midst of being broken down.
“We don’t have to explain anymore that different perspectives are valuable,” said Cooper. “We don’t have to explain anymore why it’s so important to have intentional conversations and dialogue with people, or that we can do that virtually as well as in person. Some of the biggest things that we were focused on communicating about this business and this offering have been broken down as a result of the push and inertia of the other things that are going on in society.”