Natasha Lomas | Techcrunch
Andreessen Horowitz has led a $15 million Series A in US-based job matching platform for nursing vacancies, Incredible Health. Other investors in the funding round include NFX, Obvious Ventures, Precursor Ventures and Gingerbread Capital. To date the recruitment startup has raised a total of $17M.
The California startup’s pitch to nursing professionals and hospitals is faster and more efficient hiring via proprietary matching algorithms which replace the need for hospitals to manually sift applications. Instead the platform matches job seekers to nursing vacancies based on criteria supplied by both sides of its network.
Why focus on nurses? The startup cites a statistical claim that by 2024 the US will have a shortage of a million nurses — which it argues poses a risk of financial loss to hospitals, as contractors cost more to employ, while also contending that a growing number of unfilled nursing vacancies risks the quality of care hospitals are able to offer patients.
It launched its recruitment platform in late 2017 and has so far limited its range to California, with 150+ hospitals in the region signed up and an undefined “thousands” of nurses on board.
The Series A funding will be going towards accelerating national scaling in the US.
As well as VC backers, Incredible Health’s Series A includes participation from a number of individual investors hailing from the hiring space — including Hired founder, Matt Mickiewicz; Steve Goodman, founder of Bright.com (acquired by LinkedIn); and Pete Kazanjy, founder of Talentbin (acquired by Monster) .
“We look at at least 40-50 different criteria, including location preferences, licenses and skills,” says co-founder and CEO Iman Abuzeid who has a background as a medical doctor. Her co-founder and CTO, Rome Portlock, who comes from a family of nurses, is an MIT alum — where he studied computer science.
“We work with each hospital individually to understand their key needs so we can customize their algorithms, enabling personalized matches that don’t waste the recruiter’s time,” Abuzeid adds. “We also find out the nurse’s preferences through automated methods.
“At the end of the day, a hospital recruiter or hiring executive does not want to see 200 candidates in their app, they want to see 12 that are the right fit. Same with the nurses — they don’t want to hear from 76 employers, they want to hear from three that are the right fit.”
Incredible Health’s claim for its approach is that it yields 3x faster recruitment vs the national average — saying hires via its platform take 30 days or less instead of up to 90 days on average.
It also makes a further claim of 25x “hiring efficiency” for hospitals as a consequence of its matching algorithms taking over much of the hiring admin. This is based on data from hospitals which, prior to using its platform, had to review an average of 500 applicants to fill a single position vs the matching tech cutting that to an average of just 20.
Nurses don’t apply to jobs on Incredible Health’s platform; it’s up to hospitals to apply to nursing professionals the algorithm deems a suitable match for a job vacancy.
Hospitals can’t browse all available nurses; they only see candidates the algorithm selects for them — so, as with nurses, they’re trading wider visibility of the job market for algorithmic matches based on non-disclosed “proprietary” criteria.
Incredible Health sells that reduction of agency as an efficiency saving to both sides of its network.
“Rather than completing an application for every potential employer — a process which takes an average of 45 minutes per application — nurses who use Incredible Health complete one profile — a process that takes less than 5 minutes. That profile is then used to screen and custom-match them to multiple great job opportunities,” says Abuzeid, adding when asked about criteria that nurses have to provide “data like their job preferences, experience and skill set, and also their education and licensing” as part of the onboarding profile-building process.
For nurses this load-lightening switch from active jobseeker to passive platform lurker — i.e. once they’ve created their profile — is how Incredible Health hopes to woo healthcare workers away from traditional job boards (such as specialist nursing vacancies board Indeed).
Its marketing thus leans heavily on claims that nurses just need to spend a few minutes creating a profile and then watch as the great job offers to roll in.
It also claims nurses who find employment through its two-sided platform score on average a 17% salary increase and a 15% reduction in commute time.
Though all these figures are derived from an unknown number of nurses working across a subset of hospitals in a single US state — so it remains to be seen how claimed perks get squeezed as the platform scales its national range and necessarily opens up to a wider pipeline of nursing professionals.
For now, Incredible Health also says its focus is on building a career marketplace for nursing professionals to connect them with “permanent, well-paid hospital jobs”, rather than dealing with travel and temp nurses.
Again, whether it’s able to maintain focus on what one investor calls “high value health care workers” and the claimed high quality permanent jobs as the business scales will also be one to watch.
Commenting on the Series A, Andreessen Horowitz managing partner Jeff Jordan told us: “Incredible Health’s mission is to help health care professionals live better lives and do their best work. They’ve seen strong early success helping to match these health care professionals with hospitals throughout California, and are beginning to expand their solution nationally. We look forward to supporting their efforts to building a game-changing health care employment marketplace.”
Part of the funding will go on expanding from a pure hiring platform — to what the startup bills as a “community for health care professionals as they advance their careers” — in a clear bid to nurture and expand its candidate pool so it can be responsive to platform needs.
“High caliber nurses are out there, but employers have a hard time hiring them through traditional methods like job boards and recruiting agencies because those methods rely almost exclusively on human engagement — not technology — to scour through applications, licenses and experience — and manually vet and qualify them for jobs,” Abuzeid tells TechCrunch, dubbing the job-board competition “outdated methods”.
As well as offering a “streamlined” hiring process for nursing roles, as she puts it, she notes the platform automates “entire parts of the screening and vetting process” — meaning “we’re able to deliver high-quality nurses at scale”.
That said, there’s still manual work involved — with the startup noting on its website that staff may contact nurses to “make sure you’re presenting yourself in the best way possible to top hospitals”, as well as telling hospitals that candidates are pre-screened for “licenses, experience, responsiveness, and more” (though at least some, if not all, of that vetting is automated).
Like any platform startup, Incredible Health is hoping to channel network effects to its advantage — including by feeding data back in to improve matching algorithms.
“Our system gets more effective the more who use it,” Abuzeid tells us. “The first [effect] is a traditional marketplace network effect: More nurses has attracted more hospitals, and more hospitals has attracted more nurses. And then, there’s the data network effect: The more each side uses it, the ‘smarter’ our algorithms get, too.”
Each hospital onboarded onto the platform brings with it a range of needs “advancing our system’s performance abilities”, she adds.
While algorithmic recruitment can clearly speed up the business of matching candidates to relevant jobs — a factor evident in the sheer number of job matching startups now playing in different sectors — it inevitably entails a loss of control for both sides of the employer-applicant divide.
Depending on matching criteria used there could be potential for gender and/or racial bias to creep into automated selections — bias that would be difficult for hospitals to detect since they’re only able to view a subset of candidates deemed a match, rather than the entire available pool at the time.
However Abuzeid dismisses the idea that there’s any risk of bias in Incredible Health’s approach.
“We operate successfully in a very regulated industry,” she says. “Because potential employees are assessed on their skills, experience and certifications, the technology weeds out biases typically found in processes which are largely human-powered.”
On the business model front, Incredible Health is charging hospitals what it bills as a “simple, flat fee pricing regardless of level, experience or location” — which it touts as “cheaper and more scalable than traditional recruiting agencies”.
“Traditional recruiting agencies are very expensive, because they don’t use technology in their screening and matching processes. It’s all people powered and can cost $20,000-$30,000 per single hire,” Abuzeid claims.
As for rival (lower fee) legacy job boards, she argues they offer “quantity, not quality and require lots of work for nurses and employers to find a good fit” — claiming this old school method results in “really low hiring rates at 0.2%”.