As an emergency physician and medical director for two large rural emergency departments in Smithfield, N.C., and Clarksville, Tenn., Ivy Clinicians Co-Founder and CEO Leon Adelman saw firsthand the problems in the healthcare job market.
“It was obvious, both as a clinician but also as a hirer, that the job market was way more difficult to navigate than it needed to be for both sides,” Adelman said.
A natural problem-solver, Adelman began thinking about ways to fix some of these issues and came up with the two-sided marketplace idea that has become Raleigh-based Ivy Clinicians.
Ivy Clinicians—one of the startups presenting at CED’s Venture Connect conference on April 7—was just founded in August of last year. It’s been a rapid period of development as the startup plans its beta launch for April 18. Already, Ivy has raised a pre-seed round in November for $300,000 on a convertible note with a $3 million valuation cap.
The way clinicians look for a job using Ivy is similar to how one would search on Airbnb or Zillow—by geography, and then filtering out with the things they care about, like size of the ER or CMS star ratings. (CMS is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.) After a search, users receive a set of matches and can then choose whether to make themselves visible to those healthcare recruiters or contact the recruiters themselves to begin an application process.
Recruiters will join Ivy Clinicians and attach their profile to the page of the ER or organization they represent. They will then see the list of clinicians who chose to be visible for that site. Ivy Clinicians already has data on every ER in the country, making the process even easier for recruiters and clinicians alike.
Ivy Clinicians, which operates out of Raleigh Founded, will remain free to clinicians during the entire process. Upon receiving a job offer, healthcare workers will even get a “signing bonus” from Ivy Clinicians of a bottle of champagne and coffee beans.
Meanwhile, everything is free for recruiters until their organizations sign a contract through Ivy Clinicians, when they will be charged 4.5 percent of the employee’s first year salary.
Before Ivy found its footing as a hiring marketplace, Adelman originally wanted to solve the problem of how patients were unable to tell who the “good” providers were. Since healthcare providers are generally not paid differently based on how good they are at their jobs, there is less of an incentive to provide better care over time.
But from that idea came the realization it’s also incredibly difficult for hirers to know who the good providers are. And key to the original issue was that it’s incredibly subjective to define just what a good provider is, Adelman said.
“I was not set up to be the one to solve that problem,” Adelman said. “What I realized is that there is a much broader problem, which is this illiquid, opaque job market. So I realized that if I decrease the focus on trying to differentiate providers and really solve the whole problem and essentially allow any provider to manage and communicate with any recruiter, then we would be really solving a bigger problem in the healthcare system.”
After 50 customer-discovery calls, Adelman was hearing the same thing repeatedly.
“What I heard over and over again backed up with what I felt in the market,” Adelman said, “which is that recruiters are annoyed by the system and clinicians are annoyed by the system.”
The residents in rural areas often suffer from lack of access to care because of this opaque job market. And women doctors are also earning significantly less than their male counterparts in part due to the lack of transparency, Adelman said.
According to a recent study, the wage gap totals at least $2 million over the course of a 40-year career in medicine.
So Adelman hopes a platform like Ivy Clinicians can reduce those disparities while bringing the care that rural residents need.
“We want to make sure that the right clinician is in the right place to treat the right patient,” Adelman said. “We expect to see and want to see better care delivery by getting better clinicians to rural sites.”
Helping prevent burnout
Adelman said burnout is a huge problem for clinicians and everyone in acute healthcare right now. The pandemic put an increased focus on healthcare staffing, and it’s become even more clear that the healthcare job marketplace needs to improve as nursing shortages and worker burnout continue to take place.
“We want to be part of the solution for that,” Adelman said. If folks are in a job that is not a good fit for them, we want to be the simple solution to find a job that is a good fit so that they can be happy and then take better care of patients.”
Going into Venture Connect, Adelman hopes to find connections on the funding side as well as with technical design and support.
For the rest of 2022, the first step is to launch Ivy, and then begin more fully tailoring the product to customers’ needs, Adelman said. For three months, Ivy will focus entirely on meeting the needs of the clinician side of the market. And then after that? Scale in whatever way best serves the market.