By Sy Mukherjee
July 11, 2017

One of the biggest problems in the U.S. medical system boils down to a simple issue of supply and demand. In many parts of the country, there just aren’t enough health professionals to deal with a glut of patients who need care. But, in an increasingly digital world, one solution to this shortage could involve opening up the health care job market with a gig economy-style staffing system—including to nurses.

That’s the approach that Nomad Health, a digital health upstart which describes itself as an “Airbnb” system for medical staffing, is taking. The company is sort of an offshoot of telemedicine—just one that’s more focused on the employer, rather than consumer, side.

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It already has a system in place to match doctors from certain specialties (including internal and emergency medicine) who are looking for freelance work with hospitals that need the extra manpower. Nomad even takes care of the back-end insurance paperwork. Now, it’s expanding its platform to include certified nurses throughout the country who are seeking short-term positions with participating Texas hospitals. The eventual plan is to roll out the system nationwide.

“The nursing shortage is a major factor when it comes to barriers to accessing care,” Nomad co-founder and CEO Dr. Alexi Nazem told Fortune in an interview.

The numbers seem to line up with Nazem’s assessment. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projects a physician shortage, relative to America’s population and medical needs, of 40,800-104,900 by the year 2030 (in part driven by a lack of funding for more continuing medical education and residency programs, according to the AAMC). The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has pointed out similarly troubling trends such as an aging nurse workforce and shortfall against expected demand.

One digital solution likely isn’t enough to overcome these major systemic issues (that would also require regulatory and legislative changes). But Nazem hopes that it can help mitigate an under-appreciated need in medicine.

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