Is Agency Nursing for you?

The Future of Nursing Healthcare Talent Sourcing

April 1, 2021

How Amazon, Uber and Hinge Inspired the Future of Nursing Healthcare Talent Sourcing

Forget HealthRoster, Allocate, WorkJam, NurseWest & Entire HR – uPaged is the only enterprise solution in the world that consolidates healthcare talent from hospitals and nursing agencies in a single ecosystem, creating the future of nursing healthcare talent sourcing.

Managing workforce in the average 9:00 to 5:00 pm corporate organisation is hard enough, but imagine what it’s like for the nurse in charge of a busy 50-bed intensive care unit that operates 3 full-time shifts around the clock, several shorter permanent part-time roles, and a few job sharers that make up its ~100-person workforce, who work 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.

Multiply that by the other 20 or so wards in that hospital, and all of sudden, the hospital has dozens of staff dedicated to filling thousands of nursing shifts every week. It only takes one extra patient on the surgical list or one nurse to call in sick, and the hundreds of hours spent filling those shifts are left in disarray.

Nursing Workforce Talent Agency Nursing Solving Staffing Issues

That’s where agency nurses have typically stepped in to pick up the slack. When a healthcare organisation is short-staffed, they call on nursing recruitment agencies, using an inefficient and opaque supply chain of staffing meetings, excel spreadsheets, phone calls and text messages, to supply them with agency nurses to fill gaps on shifts.

Hospitals – which can source from up to 20 nursing agency suppliers (and some as many as 50) – have dedicated staffing units of clinicians manning phones to fill shifts. Oftentimes, preferred provider contractual arrangements are in place between a hospital and a nursing agency, secured via a tendering process, or more often an informal arrangement, obliging hospital staffing units to source first from a particular nursing agency.

This is where things can sometimes come undone.

With the placement of staff in the hands of the nursing agencies, decisions are often made by agencies to prioritise providing nurses to the highest paying hospital contract, rather than clinician preference. This means that hospitals that have negotiated cheaper contract rates with agencies are often left short of nurses, which leads them to source from suppliers outside of their contracted agencies. It also means nurses can sometimes be cancelled at short notice by their agency, or nurses can be sent at short notice to another hospital, or to a different shift outside of their area of expertise, or to a shorter or longer shift while hospitals try to minimise budget and agencies try and maximise profit.

Meanwhile hospitals, agencies and nurses are often working under extreme pressure of time to fill last-minute shifts.

For the past 30-odd years, this outdated process has worked well enough. But working well enough has come at a significant cost – and not just in time and money – but to workplace culture, sometimes patient outcomes and certainly at the expense of both agency nurses and the hospitals’ permanent workforce., as well as everyone that is trying to keep the healthcare machine running.

Uncompromising Clarity in Compliance

And while nurses are also required to have the highest levels of compliance of any healthcare workers, agencies sometimes skimp on compliance to fill a gig – and this isn’t always of their own doing, especially when time is short and the need is urgent. We saw this happen recently in the case of an agency-supplied medical practitioner when the training required to administer COVID vaccinations had not been completed, despite the agency confirming it had been, when they relied on the practitioner’s word that it had been done, without witnessing evidence of such.

Furthermore, on shift, agency nurses are anonymous ring-ins – their skills are not known and they can’t be placed effectively to facilitate safe patient care.

To complicate matters for nursing agencies that have supported nurses and hospitals with supply over the years, healthcare organisations are now targeting zero agency use in the next five years to keep costs down.

The placement and compliance of casual nurses is complex, and the cost to hospitals is limited supply and when demand is high, hospitals often restrict their use of agency nurses to meet budgets. In this fragmented system of suppliers, buyers and talent, nobody wins.

That’s where uPaged steps in.

“Nurses want a flexible work option that values them; hospitals want to meet budgets;  agencies want to remain relevant, and everyone wants great patient outcomes.

 A New Era for Contingent Healthcare Workforce Management

uPaged was born of the idea that there had to be a better way to match the right nurse, with the right shift, at the right price (for nurse, agency and hospital).

“A bit like Amazon, but for healthcare talent, uPaged CEO and founder, Zara Lord explains: “I was inspired by Amazon and its marketplace, by Uber for its convenience, and by Hinge for the informed decision making it enables.”

After 2 years of rigorous research and development and the support of one of Australia’s most innovative hospitals, uPaged was launched with a minimum viable product (MVP) into the world-class cancer hospital and early supporter, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

uPaged’s aim was to connect on-demand nurses (Australia’s largest workforce) with casual hospital shifts.

Zara explains: “We’re still doing that, but more recently, as more hospitals jump onboard, a much bigger problem has emerged.

While cost is critical, supply of nursing workforce is paramount.

So, we’re bringing talent from nursing agencies and hospital pools into one ecosystem, to allow hospital booking managers to make the best clinical and financial decision from the entire market of available nurses, without breaching hospitals preferred provider relationships.”

Hospitals and Nurses Taking Charge

What this means in a practical sense is that hospitals can now adopt uPaged and include their entire casual nursing workforce in the ecosystem.

With the platform integrated into their existing rostering systems, or used as a standalone web-based tool, it means the heavy dependency and time-consuming reliance on excel spreadsheets, phone calls and text messages is eliminated and replaced by a seamless, intuitive one-touch solution.

If a hospital is part of a wider healthcare network, as many local health districts and private healthcare providers are, they can seamlessly share their existing casual nurses across their entire hospital network.

And if shifts remain vacant, staffing units can then open those shifts to their permanent staff, or the wider uPaged platform, and they can then also invite an agency nurse or a nurse who has registered on the platform independently, to that shift.

And because uPaged has created its own unique matching technology, available nurses are matched to the shift, enabling staffing units to select the nurse best suited to their patients needs – putting decision making back in the hands of clinicians, rather than recruiters.

Other factors, such as reliability rates, and ratings and testimonials, can be considered by booking managers. And because only those who are fully vetted, compliant and employment-ready are visible on the platform, hospitals enjoy a high degree of assurance in the quality of the nurses they select.

Nursing Agencies Elevating Their Role

Hospitals and healthcare networks struggle with managing multiple nursing agency suppliers, and its been to the detriment of agencies and their nurses. Hospitals also struggle with the lack of transparency across the many disparate platforms and processes that they use to book contingent nursing workforce.

uPaged solves these problems as Australia’s first and only, single nursing talent workforce ecosystem, where hospital casual pools, permanent staff, and agency nurses can apply for and be invited to available casual nursing shifts direct.

uPaged offers nursing agencies the opportunity to showcase the breadth of their nursing talent, their nurses’ skills, experience, and availability while honouring each nursing agency’s preferred provider agreements and relationships with each healthcare facility.

A vendor-neutral nursing workforce platform, uPaged enables nursing agencies to connect with their hospitals and healthcare facilities through the platform and enable their nurses to work across more facilities and healthcare networks, including those that the agency may not have previously served.

Agencies can reduce their administrative burden, enhance existing provider arrangements, and enable facilities to invite their nurses to shifts and their nurses to apply directly to available shifts with healthcare facilities listed on uPaged.

This keeps the agency nursing workforce engaged in meaningful work, reducing or eliminating underemployment of their nursing workforce by facilitating more choice, more control, and a variety of work

Ultimately, nursing agencies can secure opportunities for their nursing workforce in hospitals and healthcare organisations outside of their existing network, and with the transparency afforded by the platform, uPaged helps agencies reverse the trend of last-minute cancellations so that their nurses get booked first and cancelled last.

A Bonus for Procurement Teams

With the entire contingent nursing workforce talent available in one ecosystem, the need for costly and lengthy tendering processes can be eliminated when all providers are in the marketplace. With vendor neutrality supported, the focus is taken off the provider, transparency in pricing levels the playing field and hospitals seek the nurse best suited to their needs instead,

The Future of Casual Healthcare Workforce

“Nursing has traditionally been a very high touch, highly personalised, people-focused service, yet over the years, casual nursing evolved into an anonymous, transactional relationship, and while uPaged is a technology solution, people are at its core” explains Zara.

“uPaged has taken the anonymity out of what has been purely a transactional relationship in contingent workforce for the past 30-odd years.

“Nurses are fully profiled on the platform, so booking managers can see each nurse’s unique skills and experience, supporting evidence of their qualifications and certifications, mandatory training and competencies, all backed up by references and the necessary regulatory compliances.

And when a nurse is booked for, and accepts a shift, a short-form downloadable of their skills and experience can be popped into the shift handover book, so that the nurse can be safely allocated to patients.”

uPaged offers a raft of cool features that support nurses, hospitals and nursing agencies – from 2-way reliability rates, ratings and testimonials to vendor neutrality and pay perks to incentivise nurses for hard-to-fill shifts – giving every nurse – and every nursing agency and healthcare organisation – the best chance of success in the supply chain.

“uPaged is putting faces and names to on-demand nurses, showcasing their unique skills and experience, presenting them as the experts they are, and ensuring they’re getting the recognition and remuneration they deserve.

In true marketplace style, choice and control sit with the nurse as to where they choose to work, the hospital as to who they wish to care for their patients, and the nursing agency by promoting their nursing talent on the platform.

“uPaged fully supports workforce mobility – the technology allows nurses with wider hospital networks and beyond, and uPaged’s nurse profiles act as a nursing workforce passport – a digital resume for life if you like” explains Zara.

Despite being built to facilitate casual workforce mobility, uPaged is a big supporter of transitioning nurses to permanent work if they wish, and the platform easily enables and actively promotes try-before-you-buy for nurses and healthcare providers.

While currently serving healthcare organisations, nursing agencies and nurses, uPaged will grow to serve all on-demand AHPRA registered practitioners.

Australia first, then the world, as uPaged expands overseas.

An Enterprise Solution – Connecting Hospital, Nursing Agency and Nurse

uPaged is an enterprise solution that consolidates nursing workforce talent from hospitals and nursing agencies.

Enabling a level of integration never seen before in the contingent workforce, healthcare organisations can now access and source from the widest possible talent pool; nurses can choose from the largest number of available shifts, and nursing agencies can increase the breadth of their services.

With its unique matching technology, uPaged connects the right nurse, to the right shift, at the right price, supporting booking managers so that they can make informed clinical and financial decisions over their contingent workforce.

With the myriad of suppliers now in one simple ecosystem, along with fully vetted and compliant talent, uPaged is building a sustainable workforce so that skilled nurses can book meaningful, flexible work and hospitals can utilise contingent nurses as a channel for permanent recruitment.

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