As a native of Iowa, Dr. Jon Lensing, MD knows firsthand the challenges rural areas face when it comes to healthcare. The Association for American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimates that by 2030 there will be a shortage of 120,000 doctors nationwide. Even more dire is the fact that in areas where hospitals close, death rates rise by 5.9 percent.
In his third year of medical school, when he looked at those figures, Lensing began to wonder, What would it be like if we could match healthcare professionals with the hospitals that needed them?
After all, we’re living in the age of the gig economy, he thought. In nearly every sector we’re seeing labour markets skew to short-term contracts or freelance work rather than salaried positions.
What if we could do that with the healthcare system?
In 2019 Lensing and his friends launched the health-tech startup, Apollo, a web-based platform designed to match physicians, nurses and other specialists with healthcare facilities in need of talent to see if they could solve the problem. Initially, they planned to focus exclusively on Iowa hospitals because Lensing and his team wanted to give back to the community that raised them.
And then the COVID-19 happened.
How COVID-19 shifted the landscape for healthcare talent
As Lensing and his partners watched the coronavirus crisis unfold, they realised they were in a unique position to help.
“We decided to open up the platform to all sorts of medical providers and make it a free service to any healthcare system in the nation,” he said.
The pivot brought astronomic growth, almost overnight.
“We were a small team of five people before this,” Lensing said. “When we posted our project on helpwithcovid.com, we had over 110 people volunteer to help out.”
Apollo had to quickly build out development, marketing, and sales teams and closely monitor healthcare regulations in multiple states.
“While we were focused on the product and the user experience for the matching portion of the platform, we didn’t have any component in place to move people from place to place and lodge them.” That’s where Egencia and their travel management platform came in.
Egencia as an essential healthcare travel partner
“We were very excited about partnering with Egencia,” Lensing said. “We needed a team that could handle everything from bookings to transport to lodging with a dedicated customer support team to meet our needs.”
Now, with COVID-19 it’s all hands on deck at Apollo. Management is handling everything from onboarding industry partners to keeping the travel management platform up to date with rapidly changing travel industry regulations.
“With the impacts COVID-19 has had on the travel and hotel industry, we knew we needed a partner with experience who could keep up with the ever-changing landscape,” Lensing said. “Because our frontline healthcare workers are thinking about things like integrating into a new hospital or meeting patient demands, it’s comforting to know the logistics of travel and lodging are handled by an expert team.”
Apollo has enrolled more than 700 medical providers. Some of them are looking for part-time work, while others are seeking volunteer opportunities. Many of these providers are willing to travel across the country to lend their support to areas stricken with COVID-19. Lensing said Apollo’s providers use the Egencia booking platform to manage everything from flights and hotels to car rentals.
“From the minute they are matched with a qualified job, our candidates are immediately directed to Egencia for all of their travel needs. Egencia works with them to make sure they get where they need to be when they need to be there,” Lensing said.
Apollo foresees their team getting even larger.
“We anticipate that we will be booking hundreds of itineraries for our providers over the upcoming months,” Apollo COO Christian Williams said.
As the curve flattens, Lensing predicts we’ll see another healthcare redistribution. Apollo is ready to serve, and Egencia is ready to help them with their healthcare travel needs.
“We love having a travel partner who is as equally as excited about our company’s mission as we are,” he said. “Egencia takes a huge burden off our shoulders. Sharing the same values fosters a strong partnership that we hope will continue for the long term.”
Find out more about the Egencia Helping Healthcare travel programme.