A startup that's tackling a massive healthcare crisis is moving in on a $7 billion market

Grand Central Tech 5 Nomad HealthHollis JohnsonNomad Health cofounders Alexi Nazem, left, and Zander Pease.

“It was so painful.”

That’s how Dr. Alexi Nazem summed up his almost year-long experience trying to get freelance work as a doctor.

Nazem had to work with brokers, who shepherded him through a process that eventually led to a 94-page contract that had to be filled out by hand and mailed in.

Realising there had to be a better way, Nazem created Nomad Health, a site that helps connect freelance doctors to work in healthcare systems.

Connecting doctors to hospitals that need them is critical in the US, especially as the country is expected to face a shortage of 90,000 physicians by 2025.

And starting Tuesday, Nomad’s extending that service to nurses who are looking for short-term work, an area where there are also staffing shortages.

Nomad, which raised $US4 million in funding in 2016, currently works with doctors and hospitals in 14 states. Nazem said the company wanted to wait to launch into the nursing market, but because there’s been such a demand already, the company will get started in Texas ahead of schedule.

How freelance healthcare works

Right now, temporary healthcare jobs are usually connected via agencies. The process can take a long time, and it requires doctors to provide a lot of information along the way. It can also be expensive for the health systems who have to pay to find the workers.

Altogether, the temporary healthcare staff market is roughly $US15 billion, according to Nomad. Of that market, nurses make up about $US7 billion, Nazem said.

Instead of going through agencies, Nomad uses a site to connect doctors to healthcare systems directly. Doctors can filter searches for gigs by specifying which state they want to work in, or which electronic medical records system they know best, among others. On the flip side, healthcare providers can supply a lot of information about the job in hopes of finding someone who’s interested.

Through the site, the two parties can directly negotiate a contract that works for them, with Nomad helping out by providing malpractice insurance for the doctors. In the end, Nomad takes a 15% cut, a rate much lower than the typical 30-40% commission brokers and agencies take.

For nurses, things will be slightly different, because Nomad will have to outright hire nurses and provide benefits to them (doctors are part of the system as contractors). Otherwise, the system is pretty much the same.

Eventually, Nazem said, the hope is to take the company’s namesake to a whole new level by promoting “travel nursing,” in which nurses who want to see the world (or in this case, just the US) can move around while staying employed with temporary nursing gigs. “It’s a really interesting slice of the freelance market,” Nazem said.

For now, though, Nomad will start by working with nurses and healthcare systems in Texas before eventually going national.

Disclosure: Kevin Ryan, a cofounder of Business Insider, is Nomad’s chairman.

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