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Source: Courtesy of Incredible Health / Incredible Health

In honor of August being National Black Business Month, MADAMENOIRE recently spoke with Dr. Iman Abuzeid about her company Incredible Health.

Incredible Health allows nurses have control over where they work and how much they get paid in a way that pushes the healthcare system forward.

In addition to shaking things up in the tech-health industry with its unique and timely business model, Dr. Abuzeid shared that the company has secured over $17 million in venture capital from investors like Andreessen Horowitz and Jeff Jordan — who she described as “the master of marketplaces.”

Read more about how Incredible Health serves nurses and the healthcare system at large, plus Dr. Abuzeid’s journey to becoming a Black, female, venture-back CEO below.

MADAMENOIRE: We’d love it if we could start with you sharing with our audience the crux of what Incredible Health is and how it empowers nurses.

Dr. Abuzeid: Incredible Health is the fastest-growing venture-backed career marketplace for healthcare workers in this country. Our mission is to help hospital workers live better lives as they find and do their best work.

We’re now partnered with 60% of the top-ranked hospitals in the country according to the News and World Report. We’re used in over 500 hospitals across the country right now, including HCA Healthcare, Kaiser, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins.

Essentially, the benefit of Incredible Health is that hospitals and other healthcare employers can use our custom matching technology to hire high-quality and permanent nurses in less than 12 days. It normally takes an average of 80 days for nurses to get hired.

On average, for every health system that we work with, for each and every location, each hospital, we save them at least $2 million per year in travel nurse costs, overtime costs, and HR costs because we’re able to accelerate the hiring of permanent nurses for them.

We’re a marketplace technology that enables more rapid hiring. On average, our nurses also enjoy a set average 15% increase in salary and a 15% reduction in their commute time.

That’s what we’ve been able to achieve, and we’re rapidly growing at the moment.

MN: Thanks for that breakdown. Besides the ones you just mentioned, are there any other incentives that would encourage a nurse to hop on Incredible Health’s career marketplace?

Abuzeid: Probably the thing that nurses enjoy most is that the employers are applying to them, not the other way around. Usually, a nurse has to apply to 10 or 15 places, and they often don’t hear back. So the job search process can be very cumbersome for them.

Whereas with Incredible Health, they can just create a profile, sit back and relax, and employers start applying to them. The nurses get to choose which interviews they want to accept or decline, and ultimately they get their permanent job in less than two weeks.

MN: Now obviously you work as a doctor — but how did you come up with the idea for Incredible Health? What inspired you to create a platform that puts nurses in charge of their careers, where they’re working, and how they’re hired?

Abuzeid: Great question. I’m a medical doctor by background but I don’t practice at the moment. Still, many of my family members and friends are practicing doctors and have constantly complained about understaffing.

In the market right now, healthcare is the biggest sector in the country. 1 in 8 Americans works in healthcare. But, it’s also the industry with the biggest shortages.

At the same time, my co-founder and Incredible Health’s CTO, Rome Portlock — he’s a software engineer, went to MIT, all of that — he has many family members who are nurses. They were saying to him, “I’m experienced and I’m qualified but it still takes me three months to get my next role. I apply to 10 or 15 places I don’t even hear back.”

So we were like this doesn’t make any sense. There’s a huge disconnect because we know there’s a shortage. We know the healthcare worker demand keeps going up because our population is aging and pandemics don’t help, they add to the strain, but our supply for workers has not gone up.

Once we dug into it we were like, “What’s going on here? Everyone should be hired fast, every healthcare worker should be hired fast.”

We discover that these healthcare workers — the processes, the tools, the technology they’re using hasn’t really changed much since the late 90s — like many other things in healthcare, frankly. We figured there just has to be a better way.

MN: And we would only assume that you guys had an influx of nurses reaching out during the pandemic and becoming a part of the platform.

How has the company faired since the onslaught of the pandemic?

Abuzeid: COVID and the pandemic accelerated our business. The demand for nurses increased dramatically — by over 200% — nurses’ signing bonuses increased by 12%, and salaries went up. So overall, the activity on our platform increased.

We rapidly grew in terms of the number of employers on our platform as well. We now operate in 18 different states and have more coming. We saw at least a 1000% increase in our revenue during that period and an 800% increase in the number of nurses signing up — so yes, there was a lot of growth.

MN: It’s impressive to hear how your business has been able to serve our country’s need for healthcare workers during the last year and a half. We’d be interested in getting your opinion on how, if at all, institutional racism plays a part in the hiring of nurses on an average basis?

AbuzeidThe topic of institutional racism and injustice — to fully understand it, you’ve got to start with the patient. U.S. patients are a very diverse group. 

There’s a considerable amount of academic research that shows when a patient is treated or interacts with a healthcare worker that looks like them — from the same culture, from the same beliefs, and so on — they’re more likely to get better care.

In a more qualitative way, a lot of reporting shows that patients treated by doctors or nurses who look like them and who are from the same racial or ethnic background report that they’ve received higher quality care. That’s why it’s really critical that we continue to diversify the healthcare workforce. 

There’s a lot of room to go in terms of increasing the diversity of healthcare workers and it’s a critical task if we want to deliver exceptional and quality care.

MN: MADAMENOIRE has discussed the importance of accessibility when it comes to culturally compassionate care so we appreciate your input on that.

Abuzeid: — And another thing I wanted to share is that there’s also academic research that shows that even when you control for income, location, insurance status, age, and so on, minority patients do worse in our healthcare system versus all others. Whether for cancer, heart disease, or kidney disease, their outcomes are worse than the white population.

That tells you that there’s actually some embedded bias in the healthcare system against patients of color.

MN: Right, and the results of that unfortunate bias is something we cover quite regularly on our site, especially since it affects everyday Black women. 

We also recently reported on how Black women struggle to access venture capitalist funding, despite the success of their businesses. 

What was your process like securing the funding for Incredible Health?

AbuzeidYou’re absolutely right. There’s clearly bias in the system. I think it’s something like 1% of venture capital goes to Black founders, and if you look at just Black female founders, it’s something crazy like 0.3%. So there’s definitely bias.

The advice I would give to others that’s consistent with my experience is that as a founder and a Black female CEO, you actually have to compartmentalize that not think about the bias in the system. Just go in there and do your best. Be as assertive and clear as you can and give them your vision, your market, and what you’re trying to achieve. That’s what’s ultimately going to overcome the bias in the system.

Basically, as Black females founders we have to bank on ourselves.

Obviously, there are initiatives that venture capitalists are doing to combat the problem, but ultimately, purely from a CEO perspective, you just have to stop thinking about that stuff and go for it.

The second thing I’d say is that we have to support each other too. 

Fundraising is not an intuitive process and frankly you can’t really rely on common sense to get it done. There’s just certain playbooks and rules to the game that you need to follow.

Other CEOs taught me how to fundraise and I pass down that information to other Black founders and Black female founders because it’s not very straightforward.

MN: Finally, with all that you’ve achieved, what does it mean to be a Black female founder in the tech-health sector?

AbuzeidI’m proud — I mean there are very few CEOs that look like me.

I speak with reporters for several reasons. One of them is that if more and more Black female CEOs are highlighted, it signals to other founders out there — of any gender and of any race — to investors, employees, and potential customers that we’re here. We’re real-world examples.

It helps normalize us in these positions, because the numbers are only going to go up quite frankly. We’re starting from a very low baseline anyways but from here on out, the numbers do just need to keep increasing in terms of the number of Black female founders that are venture-backed or have their own businesses. That’s important to me.

Check out another interview with Dr. Abuzeid down below:

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