New system to ease staffing crisis in the healthcare sector

CliniShift the ‘Uber of healthcare’, can reduce reliance on agency workers.

As the former chief executive of the Whitfield Clinic, a private hospital in Waterford, Aimée Madden was only too familiar with the staffing problems healthcare managers face every day. She found a huge amount of time was being spent trying to fill rosters in key functions within the hospital with the problem particularly acute in specialist areas such as theatre nursing.

To tackle the problem at Whitfield, Madden set up a group text messaging service to make quick contact with hospital staff when extra shifts needed to be filled. From this small beginning, Madden has gone on to develop and launch CliniShift, a digital platform that enables hospitals to fill vacant shifts at short notice with appropriately qualified clinical staff.

“At present, all hospitals face exactly the same problem all of the time: rosters are created weeks in advance but there are always gaps as staff are not always available. Even when they are, they don’t have any way of finding out if and when their skills are needed outside of their normal roster,” Madden says.

“Today, the standard solution is a ‘ring-around’ to see who is available or turning to an agency to fill the gap. In Ireland and internationally, there is an over-reliance on agency staff which can be a time consuming and costly exercise to manage. For example, the NHS in the UK and HSE here are spending over €4 billion on agency staff between them a year. This practice is also bad for patients as operations get cancelled at the last minute, they do not have a guarantee of suitably qualified staff and there is no continuity of care with so much chopping and changing. In short, the whole process currently being used to find staff is unreliable and costly.”

Private system

CliniShift uses an app and an online tool to match available shifts with a participating hospital’s permanent clinical staff database. It is a private system in that it is hospital-specific and the vacant shifts are only visible to staff already working there. There is no sharing of any data outside the hospital.

“We’ve been described as the ‘Uber of healthcare’ because the platform connects hospital needs directly with clinical staff who are available in real time,” Madden says. “Clinical staff can immediately see where there are shifts available and offer their services, hospitals can fill their gaps in daily rosters with qualified staff, healthcare systems can reduce costs by not having to deal with agencies and not having to cancel operations at short notice and patients get much better healthcare outcomes as they are more likely to be dealing with the same clinician. The platform also empowers nurses and doctors to take control of their schedule and opt in or out of extra shifts as suits them.”

The CliniShift system also tracks the credentials and training records of nurses and doctors to ensure they are up to date and offers extra features such as data analytics that allow healthcare managers to track their use of the platform and to use this information when making staffing decisions. CliniShift operates a SAAS revenue model and hospitals that sign up to the system pay a fee when they book a shift using the platform. There is no cost to staff. The company will also generate revenue from charging a license fee and from providing data-related services.

CliniShift was set up in early 2016 and there are now 10 people working on the project including three fulltime software developers. Investment to date has been in excess of €500,000 (from a private investor) while Enterprise Ireland supported Madden’s participation in the New Frontiers entrepreneurs’ programme at DIT Hothouse. Employment at CliniShift is expected to rise to 20 people over the next year and the company is about to embark on a funding round to raise a €5 million.

Headhunted

Aimée Madden has been working in the healthcare sector since 2006. She has a Master’s degree in International Business from the Smurfit Business School and an MSc in Healthcare Management from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. She spent five years with the Whitfield Clinic before being headhunted by Dutch IT Healthcare company, Performation, to establish its international office in Ireland.

In 2015, she followed in her father’s entrepreneurial footsteps (he was the founder of the 50-bed Whitfield Clinic which also has a University of Pittsburgh accredited cancer treatment centre) and turned her attention to developing CliniShift. She then spent a year working on the specification of the product and ensuring it could be applied right across the healthcare sector.

“I knew the idea worked from my experience at Whitfield where I reduced our spend on agency staff to zero,” Madden says. “It was then a question of developing the functionality and ensuring the product could be scaled and was fit for purpose before we approached any potential customers. We believe there are big opportunities for CliniShift in the US, Australia and UK and we have built everything from scratch in-house in order to ensure that the product is flexible enough to meet their differing requirements. Potential users of the platform include hospitals, nursing homes, large homecare groups, ambulatory centres and clinical staff, but we are starting the roll out with hospitals.”

Trial

The Irish pilot of CliniShift began towards the end of 2016 and the business has been revenue-generating since then. “CliniShift was the first project to be approved through the HSE’s Innovation corridor and we are currently conducting a proof-of-concept trial with the Ireland East Hospital Group in conjunction with the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital,” Madden says.

The company is also at an advanced stage of negotiations with a large hospital group on the East Coast of the United States and expects to begin a pilot there in September. Interest from a number of other US healthcare groups has been behind the company’s recent decision to open an office in Boston.

“While there are numerous recruitment apps and software platforms dedicated to the healthcare sector there is no product delivering what we can offer,” says Madden. “CliniShift is unique in being a bespoke software tool that is aimed at the specific niche of clinical staff for hospitals and healthcare facilities.”

 

http://www.irishtimes.com/business/innovation/new-system-to-ease-staffing-crisis-in-the-healthcare-sector-1.3157813