March 5, 2020

Nurse Practitioner's Startup Receives $45million - the Largest Nursing Investment Ever

Nurse Chris Caulfield holding up phone with app displayed

Healthcare tech startup receives the biggest ever venture round in nursing--a whopping $45 million! That’s the headline that caught my attention. But as I continued to read, the most groundbreaking part of this venture capital funding….

The company, IntelyCare, was co-founded by Chris Caulfield, a Nurse Practitioner. I caught up with Chris MSN, RN, NP-C, and chatted about his journey from registered nurse to entrepreneur and co-founder of the biggest venture capital investment in nursing history. 

PW: Tell us about your nursing journey. Why did you decide to become a nurse?

CC: I was always attracted to the medical and scientific professions. At first, I earned a non-clinical degree and worked in an Immunoassay development lab. I realized that this role lacked the personal patient care and first-hand outcomes that I was seeking. I searched for clinical education programs that would allow me to have this personal interaction. I found a great local nursing program at Roxbury Community College. This program allowed me to still work full-time and finish my nursing degree in the evening. I was very excited about the personal connection that nurses were able to build with their patients and the ability to continue into graduate nursing professionals that allowed additional scope of practice abilities. 

PW: How long did you work as an RN before deciding to advance your education? 

CC: I worked in several different roles, including Skilled Nursing, Geri-Psych, and Nursing Informatics, for three years before enrolling in a Family Nurse Practitioner program. 

PW: Why did you choose to become a Nurse Practitioner? 

CC: I found interest in: 

  • Advancing my clinical knowledge
  • Enhancing my ability to help others
  • The shortage of primary care providers and the advanced clinical knowledge was a contributing factor leading me towards the NP role

After doing some research, I found Frontier Nursing University. It had an amazing history of distant-based education, so there weren’t roadblocks from me booking my plane flight to Kentucky and starting their program. 

PW: What was your ah-ha moment? That moment you decided to start your business? At this point, how long had you been a nurse?

CC: I was in a nursing peer leadership role, and the biggest issues that we struggled with were short staffing and mandatory overtime. The biggest concern for any nurse mandated to work overtime, was missing out on time with their families. They lacked work-life balance. 

I searched for workforce management software that could assist with filling last-minute call-outs but there wasn’t any. We contracted with local “mom and pop” nurse staffing agencies, but their ability to fill shifts was inefficient and ineffective. 

At this point in my career, I was also working part-time for the facilities IT department to implement our new EMR system. I offhandedly brought the staffing issue to the attention of the Director of IT. He was shocked at the significance of how much short-staffing was affecting the lives of nurses and our schedulers.

His name is Ike Nnah. He and I co-found IntelyCare, with the mission to tackle these complex issues. As we grew the company, we found that short-staffing was not unique to my facility - it was happening across the country. Our mission to revolutionize the healthcare staffing process resonated with the nurses and facilities we encountered along the way. This inspired us to keep growing. 

PW: How long did you continue to work, as an NP, before going into entrepreneurship full time?

CC: I was in an interesting position when I graduated from NP school. IntelyCare was in the process of raising an Angel Investor funding round. I did have a great experience as a newly graduated NP in an Urgent Care & Primary Care office for about 6 months. However, I realized that to truly see the full effect of having IntelyCare tackle the nursing shortage head-on,  I would have to hang up the white coat. 

More recently, I’ve had the great opportunity to have my organization hire many experienced team members to spearhead the operational responsibility at IntelyCare. I now utilize my knowledge in diagnosis and treatment to create engaging, animated education for our nursing professionals. We offer these training courses to our IntelyPros on an ongoing basis so that they can feel confident that they are competent in the most current best nursing and medical practices,--which will ultimately help to decrease preventable readmissions at skilled nursing facilities. 

PW: Tell us about IntelyCare.

CC: IntelyCare is an intelligent workforce management platform. We enable healthcare facilities to optimize their existing nursing staff and augment them when needed. 

  1. Facilities can enter in their shift needs into our platform, which is then sent to our network of nurses across the country.
  2. Nurses can browse and pick up the shifts that work for them - empowering them to build a schedule that actually fits their life. 
  3. Our intelligent matching and pricing engine provides a seamless solution to staffing challenges that require minimal manual involvement from the facility. 

We also recently announced a $45 million Series B funding round - the largest venture capital round of a nurse tech company. This capital will help our efforts to apply gig economics and advanced data science technology to optimize existing talent and close the widening gap between supply and demand.

PW: What need does your business fulfill within the healthcare system? How is IntelyCare beneficial to nurses? What makes it different from other companies in the same niche? What’s in it for the nurse?

CC: We focus 100% on per-diem contingent staffing for post-acute care facilities. Post-acute facilities actually have the highest rates of nursing burnout of all healthcare facilities, which is why we’ve decided to focus on this market to provide the biggest impact. 

Many other healthcare staffing organizations focus on travel-nursing for hospitals. Our solution is powered by advanced machine learning algorithms that optimize matching and pricing:

  1. Creating shifts before facilities know their own need
  2. Resulting in the highest shift-fill rate in the industry

We believe this is where our technology brings a significant advantage to operating as a per-diem staffing provider. 

Put simply, we make life easier for nurses and facilities. Nurses can

  • Prioritize shift notifications
  • Rate facilities
  • Receive bonuses 

Facilities can

  • Prioritize their favorite nurses (for preferred shift notifications)
  • Provide transparent feedback for retraining
  • Boost the rate of their shifts if they are in a pinch

PW: How can nurses work with you?

CC: It’s a straightforward process. 

  • Nursing professionals fill out a short form on our website to apply
  • They’ll be able to quickly sign up for an interview after some simple screening questions and speak to a recruiter about their experience. 
  • If they meet the requirements, we’ll ask them to download the app and upload the required documents and credentials. 
  • After all documents and credentials are uploaded and reviewed, references are checked, we’ll run some additional background checks and send notifications via the app when everything is approved.
  • After some additional onboarding training is complete, they can go into their app and pick up shifts and subscribe for various notifications of their preference. 

Currently, we cover nine states, and we’re expanding to another 11 states this year. We have over 500 healthcare facilities, and we currently have over 11,000 active nursing professionals  (RN, LPN, and nursing assistants) picking up shifts. 

PW: What advice do you have for other nurses who want to start their own company?

CC: The best advice I can give to an aspiring nurse entrepreneur is to find a great team of advisors and co-founders. IntelyCare didn’t really take off until we expanded our co-founding team from two to four. You must build a team that is well rounded and can bring different types of expertise to the table. I’ve learned an immense amount since we built our company, but it was knowledge gained from others who were experts in their fields. 

If I was going to start another company in the future, the first question I’d ask is, “Who wants to join me?” I’d seek out the people who had skills that I didn’t. I bring a nursing background to the table - but you need to have a solid team of other knowledgeable people around you to make it work. It won’t grow if you don’t have a strong, capable team around you. 

IntelyCare’s venture round was led by Endeavour Vision with participation from Kaiser Permanente Ventures and Generator Ventures.

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Portia Wofford is a nurse, copywriter, content strategist, and nurse consultant. Chosen as a brand ambassador or collaborative partner for various organizations, Wofford strives to empower nurses by offering nurses resources for development--while helping healthcare organizations and entrepreneurs create engaging content that connects and converts. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for her latest. 

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