Teladoc Health's Jennifer Close and Clipboard Health's Wei Deng on overcoming provider burnout and winning on retention

After three years of the pandemic, providers feel more stressed and burned out than ever. See why the organizations that focus on experimenting, prioritizing provider health, and advocating on their behalf will be the ones to come out on top.

The past three years have been eye-opening. Yet, the uncertainty has taken its toll. Providers are stressed, exhausted, and overworked. As a result, the prevalence of provider burnout is intensifying.

The recent Medscape Physician Burnout & Depression Report 2022: Stress, Anxiety and Anger study shows burnout permeates most aspects of providers' lives, with over 54% of providers confirming a strong or severe impact from burnout and feeling overwhelmed with patient caseloads. Other reports show that 90% of nurses are considering leaving the profession next year

These providers are trying to advance healthcare to make it more accessible to patients. Yet, transforming an industry and increasing accessibility requires these providers who are already overloaded to fill out applications, upload documents, or get fingerprinted—to name a few.

Facing what some have dubbed the transformation of healthcare, this feels like a critical time to address the question, "How do organizations get their providers to stay?" Our guests, Jennifer Close and Wei Deng, have a few ideas to do just that. 

Jennifer Close is the Senior Vice President for Clinical Operations at Teladoc Health, which connects people to the right care when they need it the most. Wei Deng is the Founder and CEO of Clipboard Health which helps healthcare facilities within hospitals or nursing homes match with on-demand staff. 

We sat with them during our annual Medallion Elevate conference to chat about innovative ways to solve provider burnout and retention and how to keep a healthy provider network. The conversation is below, and if you're short on time, here are a few quick takeaways: 

  • Depending on the stage of life of your clinicians, they will have very different needs and will be evolving frequently. It’s critical to keep their needs at the forefront because it plays a significant role in retention.
  • Clinicians want to get back to seeing patients; not spend more time doing more paperwork. 
  • It’s up to healthcare businesses and organizations to be the voice of their providers and advocate for their health and wellbeing to abate burnout and potential retention challenges.

If you enjoy this material, check out more sessions from the Medallion Elevate event. A lightly edited transcript of the session with Jennifer and Wei follows.

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Derek Lo: Welcome, Jennifer and Wei. Very excited for you both to join us. This session is a really important one. Provider burnout is top of mind and, honestly, one of the largest challenges facing healthcare today. Before we jump into the strategies, I'd love to have you introduce yourselves and share how your background and experience have helped shape your current role. Wei, we'd love to start with you.

Wei Deng: Hi, everyone. My name is Wei. I'm the founder and CEO of Clipboard Health. We help healthcare facilities within hospitals and nursing homes match with on-demand staff. We are now also helping them with strategies around cost savings, scheduling, and other logistics for our healthcare facilities. 

Before this, I was a lawyer and an investment banker. I taught myself how to code and switched to startups after doing investment banking. I've worked in various startups and don't have a traditional background in healthcare. 

My mission for the company is to help lift as many people up the socioeconomic ladder as possible. The initial version [of the platform] was to help people with their financial loans and education, but I had talked to many medical students, lawyers, and nurses. The one thing that kept coming up back in 2016 and 2017 was that the nurses wanted help with a better schedule because they were getting burned out. They all wanted help finding a job with better compensation. That led me to evolve the business into what it is today. I'm very excited about this panel.

Derek: Wonderful. Jennifer?

Jennifer Close: Great, Derek, thank you. My name is Jennifer Close. I'm the Senior Vice President for Clinical Operations at Teladoc Health. I am now in virtual care delivery after a career in brick and mortar. Wei, I appreciate your comments about people looking for different ways to schedule as healthcare professionals and ways to have more flexibility in their lives and professions. 

I want to thank you for the invitation to join Elevate today. I'm very excited about this panel. I think you'll hear two different but probably complementary perspectives from the two of us, Derek.

Flexibility leads to scalability

Derek Lo: Thanks so much. Let's jump in. I want to start with what you are hearing from your providers, both good and bad, as it relates to their working relationship with Teladoc and Clipboard. Maybe, Jennifer, we can start with you.

Jennifer Close: Sure. I would say what we're hearing is as highly variable as the individuals that choose to work with us. There's no one answer to the question. 

“I would tell you that I think the one-size-fits-all clinical practice I experienced at the early stages of my career is not what folks in the market are looking for. What we are hearing loud and clear is that different people have different needs.” 

Some of our clinicians want a 1099 contractor arrangement where they can come and go at will and give us as many or as few hours as they would like. We have others who would like an employed model with predictability, the certainty of income, and an understanding of what their world will look like.

We see, depending on the stage of life of our clinicians, they are very different demands. Folks who may be in the part of their life where they have children at home or maybe caring for elders have very different needs and requests for flexibility in their work. Then maybe someone who doesn't have children or doesn't have external needs and is very career focused. 

“I would tell you after 30 years of being in this, at the early part of my career, I think provider staffing was much more one-size-fits-all: ‘This is how we work and if that's how you want to work, come here.’ That's not a successful strategy with clinicians today.” 

Figuring out a way to be flexible but scalable and financially sustainable in your business is how we're trying to fit that perfect space between the organization's needs and our clinicians' needs.

Wei Deng: Jennifer, we basically see the same thing. 

Our marketplace model is interesting because I would say that 70% to 80% of the whole model we have is based on flexibility. You're pretty much only a 1099 contractor, and you get to choose your schedules, decide when to work, where to work, pick up a shift a month, or work every day. 

We have deepened our relationships with our healthcare facilities. We also know that many of the 1099 workers also want reliability. A small portion of our healthcare providers also like that, so we started adding things like long-term contract assignments. 

The other thing we are hearing is that there's a lot more focus on how they're getting treated at work by their patients. We have people who refuse to work at certain facilities because they think the patients don't treat them with respect. Our providers might say, "Well, I'm working in the COVID unit, and these people don't even appreciate what I'm doing, so why am I even here?" I would say that these sorts of non-financial and tangible qualities are popping up more often, especially over the last year.

A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work

Derek Lo: That's all super interesting and insightful. How often are you talking to your providers about burnout and retention? Do you speak to them directly about it? Do you address it head-on? And in either case, how do you partner with them to help solve that problem versus adding to it? Wei, maybe we can start with you.

Wei Deng: Sure. We look at retention on our platform. People sometimes churn, but that's more of a result of how our platform behaves. Some people decide that they don't want on-demand work, and they want more full-time work. It's why we're adding on these new products. 

Generally, in terms of retention at a facility, it has decreased over time. It was already a trend happening before COVID, before the pandemic. Still, it has been exacerbated because now they're getting bombarded with more patients, or they are putting themselves more at risk for taking care of these sick patients. There's more burnout and more retention issues. 

"Some of the things we're doing are paying them faster and thinking about ways to improve their lives. You can do it with a variety of strategies. It's not like what Jennifer said, one-size-fits-all."

So we try to pay them as soon as their shift is over. Then they at least get some immediate reward. We sometimes send out schwag to show them a token of appreciation. 

I think all those things combined help improve the experience. But at the end of the day, when they're at a facility, we don't have control over what happens there, so the best we can hope for is to rate the facility. If they have a great experience, we can refer that facility to other providers. Over time the platform can be one where you can find a facility that's the best match for what you're seeking, even if you work similar hours if you are working in a facility where your friends are there, and the patients treat you with respect. You'll have less burnout than if you work the same number of hours at a dirty facility and the administrators yell at you.

Jennifer Close: Wei, I appreciate your comments and would echo much of what you said regarding my life before Teladoc. Being in an entirely virtual care environment, we have some unique challenges and pros and cons with retention. We're able to offer an environment where people can maintain a clinical practice but do it in a different way and have flexibility about frankly where they are in the country. If they have a place they like to be in the winter, in the summer, they can be there and still work. So the upside, we are benefiting from the people who are burned out on PPE.

I think Wei's comment about practicing with your friends and having support in the facility is so central to how we support clinicians. We have been talking with our clinicians about how they want their sense of community to be developed to provide them with that collegiality and support in an entirely virtual environment where their colleagues are across the country, right? They're not just down the hall, or they're not in the clinic across the street. That has been something that I think we are continuing to work through to enhance retention and decrease burnout because social support is critical. We have also heard from our clinicians they want, I'm going to call them social environments, but they're business social environments. We're hosting webinars where clinicians can come together and chat like they would in a physician lounge in more traditional practice and have that sense of community that is maybe something we have to be much more intentional about in a fully virtual world.

Experimentation is key

Derek Lo: Thank you for sharing. We definitely have some folks running clinician networks in our audience right now. You touched on several tactics you've used to help mitigate provider burnout and retention. I'm curious if there are also any initiatives that you all have tried that have not been successful and how you measure success in terms of retention and maybe bits of provider net promoter score. What metrics are you looking at to ensure that you know the network is healthy? So maybe Jennifer, we can start with you.

Jennifer Close: Sure. I think I may want to go back to your comment, Derek, about retention and burnout because they're related but not the same. We do measure net promoter. We also measure provider engagement and provider turnover. And to comment on the burnout side, I would share, and Wei, I'd be really curious about your perspective on this, is that what we are hearing from our clinicians is their drive to become clinicians was because they wanted to cure patients. Not do paperwork, not deal with the administrative hassle.”

We're trying to look at how we structure our care delivery teams and support the clinician's practice to allow them to practice at the top of their license. That's a buzzword in care delivery, but it's asking, "How do we empower the clinician to care for patients?" That's what they want to do, what they're trained for, what they're passionate about, and how we can help to take the rest off their plate and only engage with them where needed.

In doing that, you also have to build a financially sustainable model, right? The last panel talked a lot about if you're not here in two years, you can have a negative contribution margin and a wonderful product, and you're not going to be sustainable. So thinking about how we meet those requirements, be it payers or employers or regulatory requirements that are the bane of existence for every clinician in the US, is one of our greatest tactics in burnout. 

The other one I'll just mention is active conversations. This has to be consistent outreach to our provider community to say, "What do you need? What are we not doing for you?" I may sit at my desk and think I know what's going to work, but that voice of the customer is not only true for the patients we serve, it's true for the clinicians that serve our membership. So I think finding ways to actively engage in open dialogue to understand the pain points, their ideas on solutions, and co-create is critical to help reduce burnout.

Wei Deng: I'll say that we also measure NPS and CSAT scores. And again, this is very specific to how satisfied they are with us as a network, as a platform, and not necessarily with nursing or healthcare in general. In a lot of ways, I take ownership of that. If they have a bad experience, chances are half the time it's not because they don't like their patients or the administrators are mean to them; it's because our customer support agents are not answering the calls. That said, we look at retention. Derek, you can appreciate this because we went through a fundraising round six months ago. So we look at retention every which way possible. We look at cohortized retention on both the healthcare facility side; we look at it from the provider side; we look at trends over time. We also look at it by geography because we're in 20+ states, so every location has different retention curves.

The number one reason people turn us down for shifts is not burnout; they want more variety of shifts. They want the ability to have a stable schedule, but the ability to also choose what schedule that is. Part of my job is to get more healthcare facilities and other shift opportunities on board on the platform so that they can say, "Okay, this week I do want to work 40 hours, but I want to do two double shifts and then maybe, say, the last shift after three days." We don't have enough density in some areas in our network to provide that, but that is the ultimate goal for the platform. We want to have enough of that variety of shifts that people can make a full-time schedule should they choose to, can have that stability but also the flexibility to decide where those shifts are and when they get to work those shifts.

Regarding burnout, I think we touched on this already a few times. The social part is a real one. I would also say actually, most experiments we tried don't work. And we try a lot of experiments. We try different pricing experiments that don't work. One thing that looks like it's starting to work is this “book with friends” feature. And that seems fun for them because they feel like, "I'm not just going to work, I'm actually going to hang out with my friends. I'm taking care of their patients, but it feels less lonely." That has been a bigger hit.

Back to what Jennifer is saying, I still talk to our providers and healthcare facilities on a daily basis and at least weekly because of so much of what's happening. Keeping a close tab on how they're evolving with the market and what they were caring about that's something that we do, not just me personally, but our executive team. Everybody goes and does customer calls. We have some product people who recently got their CNA license so they can work at one of our facilities and experience it. We are not just “talking the talk” but we’re experiencing firsthand what it's like to be a provider.

Non-traditional benefits lead to retention

Derek Lo: Amazing. Thanks for sharing some of the things that didn't work as well. I guess ultimately, burnout likely leads to turnover, but there are many other reasons why providers might leave. When it comes to retention, where do you focus? Wei, maybe we can start with you again.

Wei Deng: For us, the things we focus on are getting more shifts on the platform so that they have more choices. The second one is getting them paid faster. We already pay people the same day, and we're moving to pay them as soon as their shift ends. Our providers may be a different set from yours, Jennifer. We have a lot of certified nursing assistants and LPNs. They're getting paid a lower amount than, for example, a nurse practitioner or a physician. And so for them, they need money faster. 

A lot of it has been doing credit underwriting, and we're starting to launch a program called Prepay. We have data on your general attendance if you've been on the platform for a certain time. Then, we can pay you before you book a shift because sometimes you struggle even to have enough gas money to make it to the shifts. And so those are the things we're doing to help improve their experience and retention so that they actually stay on. They're like, "Okay, look, Clipboard is going to care for me beyond this one shift, right? They're there to help me support my financial goals."

Other things we've done in the past are COVID incentives. We pay you more if you are working a COVID unit. But also, if you get COVID, we offer some financial assistance based on how many shifts you've worked in the past. So if you've been with us for a year, we take the average amount you've made for the last month and essentially just pay you that out for two to three weeks while you recover from COVID.

Those are some of the areas we're really focusing on to make sure that the provider is taken care of not just in the short term but in the medium to long term that they also stay with us. And that over time, we will do things like help them reach goals by subsidizing a portion of their education. So if you're a CNA and want to be licensed as an LPN, you know you have to save enough money to get that certification. We're piloting financial assistance for a small subset of our CNAs who've been with us for some time and who we've known to be reliable. They can continue to work and go to school, and we're helping them with that.

Jennifer Close: I think Wei, you're right. We have a slightly different population, although I also have medical assistance and nurses on our team. But I think Derek, to be honest, part of this also comes to great matching. Historically, organizations have done well by selecting the right candidate when hiring them and getting the right DNA. But by learning over recent years, especially since COVID, organizations have changed, right? Your focus changes, the type of practice you are in changes, and being open with clinicians about those changes so you can continue to match the DNA. Sometimes turnover is okay, in my opinion. Sometimes a clinician who matched your practice model and your corporate objectives three years ago may be in a very different place today.

Continuing to have conversations about who we are, what direction we are going, what is this practice environment and, frankly, if it's not the right match, and being able to help that clinician off board effectively.

Now for those clinicians that it is a good match, I'm going to go back to the fact that burnout is real and helping people to have the right support. So, for example, we offer our services to our clinicians. They can seek mental health services from us; they can seek mental health services through BetterHelp, one of our partner companies, to ensure that they care for themselves. We've also tried to be flexible. If people need a sabbatical or time away, it doesn't have to be an official FMLA where they have a doctor's paperwork. We're willing to be flexible and say, "You know what? If you need time to recharge and be off the platform for a period of time and go do your thing or be with your kids or be with your family or not do anything," we want to try to meet them where they are and help to provide not only the flexible working environment but other tools that will aid them in continuing to be healthy.

Teladoc Health is a big believer in not only talking the talk but walking the walk in healthy work-life balance. So we try to have coverage for our longitudinal care providers when they're on their day off or on vacation. So they're not getting a call, "Hey, your patient Derek called, and he needs this." But there's a reliable and strong coverage model so a partner can care for their patients while they're gone. I think it is really important that when people are not at work, we allow them to not be at work. And as everyone on this call probably knows, that's not the history in healthcare. 

“As a clinician, you were expected to be on call to some degree 24/7/365. Even if you had partners in your practice, you might still get the call about your patient. We're trying to build processes around that to let people be away when they're not at work so we can help reduce that burnout.”

Word-of-mouth is a key driver in sourcing providers

Derek Lo: Yes, Jennifer, you mentioned a few things that fall into another topic that I wanted to touch on. You said a few things I think are selling points to providers. You mentioned finding the right match. I'm curious, how do you attract new providers to join the Teladoc network? Especially given that many providers are leaving healthcare altogether, especially nurses. There's a living shortage, and we can get into that later. What's worked and hasn't worked well in attracting providers to Teladoc?

Jennifer Close: Yeah, I will say our best tool is the people that work for us. Physicians trust physicians, nurses trust nurses, and medical assistants trust medical assistants. And frankly, they're our best recruiting tool. All of us in healthcare have colleagues who do the same things. So I think our best recruitment tool has been to treat our physicians, providers, and staff well and have them refer folks to us because they can tell the story. Secondly, it's been really important for us to get the elevator speech down. So just filling a seat is not the right answer. We need to be recruiting the right people. And half of that is us helping a potential candidate to understand what it's like to work here at Teladoc, whether they're a physician, whether they're a medical assistant, whether they're a nurse, and making it real for them during the recruitment process of, "This is what it's like. Hey, let's get you on the platform." Some folks have not worked completely virtually before, so that feels very unusual to them.

We are leveraging our people who hopefully love working here and helping us to have them recruit. And two, being very transparent about who we are, our objectives, what it's like to work here, and what we can and can't do. You're not going to have an in-person visit here, so if that's important to you, we're probably not the right practice, at least for you full-time. You're welcome to be here as 1099.

Then, I think, Derek, realizing we must be a continually evolving, continually improving environment. So we have to learn every day what those recruitment tactics are, what of those approaches are working, what's resonating and what's not. I think leveraging more traditional recruitment, recruitment fairs, and that setting has not worked well for us. We're looking for people who want to work in a virtual environment—so finding ways to engage virtually rather than at a career fair, which is just in one geography, not necessarily tapping the entirety of the country. That's probably something we have backed away from. We've tried, and it has not been super successful for us.

Wei Deng: Word of mouth is a huge component. I know that at least 20% of our growth comes from word of mouth alone, which we can track directly. The part different from Teladoc is that our nurses work shoulder to shoulder with someone for eight hours a day. So the most natural question they're going to ask is, "Hey, I'm so and so. Where are you from? How did you come to this facility?' From there, people talk about Clipboard, and that's how they find their way there. So much of that means that we have to continuously improve the product, making sure that they are getting paid well, they're getting paid quickly, that they have more selection, and that when they have a complaint about a facility, we investigate.

All those sorts of changes over time and product improvements mean that you get even stronger word-of-mouth effects. So that's one thing. The second one is we did start doing a referral program. That has also been a big driver for recruitment for our growth. The third one is before last year, we didn't have any traditional marketing efforts, but we started doing Facebook Ads and Google Ads. The main value propositions that we highlight are flexibility, right? You can decide to use it as a way to supplement your income and keep your full-time job. You can, and at least in some geographies, you can just work here full-time because we have enough shifts and we have enough choices that you can do that. 

And, of course, you get paid faster than at a healthcare facility.

We highlight three value propositions that seem to have resonated with the providers. But similar to what Jennifer's saying, one thing I think about as CEO is that the market is continuing to evolve. For every business, for every innovation that you do, it's going to be a commodity next year or in two years. And so, my job is always to stay ahead and think about the other things we should be doing to solve more customer problems and deepen our relationship with them. Even for something like recruitment, if we start seeing that the value proposition is fine, but now there are a bunch more competitors doing the same thing, we have to think about other areas or services that we can offer on top of what we are doing now. And so that's what I spent, I would say aside from recruiting, not just providers but other corporate team members, that's what I spend the other majority of my time thinking about, which is new products and innovation to capture more of the customer problems.

Jennifer: Derek, can I add one thing?

Derek: Yes, please.

Jennifer: I think the other thing that I would just share is maybe more specific to providers and care team staff members to some degree, but I'm going to go back to my earlier comment that providers got into this to take care of patients. I think it helps as you're recruiting, helping the provider see how much of their time is going to be indirect patient care and how much of their time will be in all the stuff they don't want to do. And be able to tell that story in a compelling and real way, not promising something that's not going to be the reality, but tapping into that passion around caring for people and how we are as a care delivery organization, as a company, going to support them in that passion.

Because for a lot of clinicians, it is a passion. That's why they got into it. That's why they went to medical school. That's why they did a residency. It wasn't because they wanted to be in debt forever; they were passionate about doing this. Helping them to know we are equally passionate about taking care of patients and we need their help to do that, and we're going to be here to support them, I think, is important.

Wei: For what it's worth, our clinicians do charting, but the documentation is way less cumbersome than an actual physician. I have a lot of doctor friends, and their biggest complaint is that what they're experiencing now is almost 50% of their time is spent on paperwork. They have to document everything. Otherwise, they get docked points if they get the billing code incorrectly. I was spending last weekend with a doctor friend who said, "If I had known that this was my life, I would not have gone into being a doctor because I wanted to care for patients, I wanted to solve interesting medical problems. And now I'm just spending most of my time trying to ensure I have the right billing code so that insurance pays us. That's not the job I signed up for." He talked about how many doctors in his practice group are thinking of leaving because of this issue where the expectations are very different from reality.

Jennifer: I think that's where innovation comes in, right? That's where things like voice recognition, AI, and other technology tools exist. Even if we get that 50% down, Wei, at 20%, that's a huge win. So how do we introduce innovative approaches and technology into the practice environment to take that burden off the provider? Because your friend's spot on, that's not why they went into this.

Advocacy falls on the shoulders of healthcare businesses

Derek Lo: Yes, and following on to what you both have said, especially Wei, that anecdote you shared, "I wouldn't have even become a doctor if I'd known this is the amount of administrative overhead and such that would be involved." Wei, maybe we can begin with you. A lot of data points to the fact that we're going to have a massive provider shortage, especially with nurses. What would you say is the responsibility of businesses in helping to solve a looming potential crisis?

Wei Deng: I recently read this stat that 90% of nurses are thinking of quitting in the next year, which is very scary to consider. I believe it is the responsibility of businesses, and I would say hospitals or hospital-like businesses, to think way longer term than beyond today, even the next few months and years ahead. We have a few healthcare facilities that have been "overstaffing" over the recommended minimum. They have always said that it pays dividends over time and that it’s because those nurses don't leave. They have support, and over time they're not paying more because they're not scrambling at the last minute to pay some extremely high travel nursing agency for this emergency. So those emergencies end up not happening as much.

Jennifer Close: I would share Wei's perspective and add that I think businesses, including those of us who have healthcare businesses, we're responsible, in addition to everything she said, for advocacy. So part of the challenge, frankly to the point, is documentation challenges and insurance paperwork. All of those things are well reasoned by the businesses requesting them. Another burden, frankly, is we operate nationally. So many clinicians hold multiple state licenses, which is different in every state. While they're licensing compacts across many states, they're still going through the licensing process for every state. And that's exhausting for a clinician. We want to ensure that care provided to patients no matter where you are in the country, urban, rural, north, south, east, west, is safe, effective, cost-efficient, and easy for the people providing the care. Whether you're a healthcare business or another business, being able to advocate for ways to make this easier for the people providing the care I think is going to be just critical because to continue to put these barriers in front of folks makes it impossible.

And the other piece, I will get on my soapbox for one minute and say we have to find a way to allow physicians to train and not spend their life in debt. Physicians often come out of medical school with daunting debt. That is an additional pressure in their life and becomes "How do I come out into a new practice? I may have a family to care for. I may have elders to care for. I'm carrying this incredible weight in the burden of financial debt." So how do we continue to have incredibly well-trained clinicians in this country but do it in a way that people are not spending the first 20 years of their career settled by amazing debt?

Telehealth services bring balance and support to providers

Derek Lo: These are really, really great points, and there's a lot of work to do. Jennifer, maybe we can begin with you. How are you seeing virtual and digital care potentially helping to solve the workforce shortage problem? It does feel like through telehealth and digital care/virtual care and the advent of really 21st-century technology being applied to the care delivery process; we are going to be more efficient, we're going to be able to do more with less. What does that look like for your businesses, and what's your personal outlook on that?

Jennifer Close: Well, I think if I said anything other than it's not wonderful working for a telehealth company, that would be wrong. No, I think, in all true honesty, I think it just offers more flexibility. So practicing 100% virtual is not right for everyone, and that's the perfect person for us to have as a 1099 team member who may be practicing with us virtually. It gives them a little respite from the burden of being in person or potentially wearing PPE all day. I think it also offers geographic flexibility and flexibility in scheduling.

That all being said, I will also tell you that my learning after being with a virtual care organization is hiring folks to be on a screen all day. There is a different consumer expectation in a virtual world that everything will happen immediately. They will get responses immediately because that's their digital consumer experience outside of healthcare. So again, it's helping the provider to sort of have the right balance and the right support to make that happen. But I think virtual care and hybrid care are just other opportunities for clinicians to choose how they want their practice to be and what best fits their needs at their particular stage of life.

Wei Deng: We don't do a lot of virtual care though we have staffed for some virtual care companies. The thing that I see that's pretty exciting is some medical device companies do remote patient monitoring. With those, you still need a clinician to use the device, talk to the patients, et cetera. And so we were staffing for some of these remote patient monitoring devices at our existing healthcare facilities. And what it does is it allows, for example, a nursing assistant or medical assistant to go in in-person for part of the time, but then they can also have this hybrid model where they're doing virtual care for another few days. I feel like those people you talk to feel more refreshed, frankly. They say, "Sometimes I get to work in my PJs." I guess scrubs are maybe pretty comfortable too, but "I can sit behind a screen," It's very different being home like I am right now versus having to be there physically. You have to be with someone in-person.

I think the hybrid model for us over time is something that I'm very excited about. We've also helped some virtual health companies with staffing, such as nurse practitioners who give prescriptions. They also very similarly do part of their work in person, but then they like this aspect of adding more options so that they can sometimes be at home with their kids but still prescribe medication. And as a consumer, by the way, I love telehealth. I always try to do telehealth first. I don't like commuting. Unless a doctor's coming to my home, I prefer not to go in and see someone. I would rather just text or do a Zoom or video chat first and foremost before going in, doing the whole wait because the wait times are also pretty horrendous in these healthcare systems.

Hindsight is 20/20 but the future is bright

Derek Lo: I echo that sentiment, Wei, as a consumer. I know we've only a bit of time left, so the last question. What is one piece of advice or knowledge you wish you would've learned a few years ago that relates to retaining providers or fact and nuance? Wei, maybe we can begin with you.

Wei Deng: My only piece of advice is to listen to the customers even more and experiment. Do something about it. We're doing that now. The past year has allowed us to experiment with different ideas at the org. But I think initially, it was more like, "Okay, yes, we know this is broken, but it's probably not the highest priority. And it's like those are the customers you serve." So maybe the solution they propose is not the right solution because often providers will ask, "Wouldn't it be great if you could do X?" And it turns out that's not what you should be building, and that's not what you should be doing.

But the underlying problem that they're surfacing, if you hear more than three, four data points, there's probably something there. And that's something I wish I had not put down on the list as something we'll deal with later.

Jennifer Close: Yeah, I think, Derek, honestly for me, if I would have known a few years ago the impact that something like a global health crisis like COVID would have on the entirety of our healthcare delivery system and the people who serve in that system. I was working bricks and mortar at the time the pandemic started. If I had a magic ball at that time, we would've made different decisions about how we asked people to work, the amount, or the burden of being in PPE. It impacted the number of clinicians, nurses, and medical assistants who have chosen to leave a field they clearly had a passion for. Their experience has so deflated them. I honestly wish I had had a better crystal ball to see that coming and could have at least personally made some different decisions along the way to help preserve that workforce.

Derek: In retrospect, now that you've said that, I think the obvious answer was we wish we would've known about COVID because, over the last couple of years, that was the big one that affected everything.

Wei: Honestly, we're probably going to have another COVID-like thing again. I mean, whatever you want to call it. Some crisis could be a pandemic or another reason you want to be prepared for those moments and be ready to capture those moments when it happens and not just be complacent with the current strategy.

Derek: Absolutely. Well said. Well, Jennifer, Wei, thank you so much for joining us today. This was a really interesting topic, and very valuable, I think, for a lot of folks on the call that are again running their clinician network. Thanks again for taking time out of your very busy days to spend with us.

Wei: Thank you so much.

Jennifer: Thank you.

Derek: Thank you, bye.

About Medallion Elevate: The Future of Healthcare Operations

At Medallion's inaugural debut, Elevate: The Future of Healthcare Operations, healthcare executives, founders and leaders came together and highlighted the collective optimism of an industry that's ready to elevate and advance the industry. 

It represented actionable insights, disruptive ideas, and ground-breaking insights from some of the best healthcare leaders, visionaries, investors, and founders. For more information and to view the sessions on demand visit: https://elevate.medallion.co/events/medallion-elevate-2022/registration 

Today and every day, we celebrate the critical endeavors of these health leaders and changemakers. #MedallionElevate

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