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Healthcare workers have the side-job bug

Charlie Paterson, healthcare expert at PA Consulting, comments on the regulatory and insurance issues facing on-demand healthcare startups.

Read the full Wall Street Journal article here

Melissa Fraher, a pediatric nurse practitioner, works full time at a private clinic in Norwalk, Conn. But last week, she spent an afternoon crisscrossing Manhattan working her side hustle: piercing ears in clients’ homes. Since signing on with Rowan Inc., a Manhattan-based startup launched this past summer that sends nurses around town to puncture earlobes, she’s performed hundreds of piercings on infants, children, teens and adults. She enjoys the flexibility: “You can work as little or as much as you want to.”

Across the city, health-care workers are leveraging their expertise to snag extra cash, often earning more per hour than they could with more common side gigs like delivering packages. 

Nurses working as independent contractors for Manhattan-based I.V. Doc visit homes and offices to administer drips addressing maladies ranging from hangovers to food poisoning, for example. Another firm, Swift Shift, uses algorithms to connect nurses and caregivers to home-care opportunities, matching them by preference including patient location, condition, gender and age.

The area’s insatiable demand for health and wellness services makes New York ideal for launching businesses that rethink health-care delivery, entrepreneurs say.

Then there is the vast labor pool—there are nearly half a million health-care workers in the metro area, including roughly 92,000 nurses.

Charlie notes that there are thorny regulatory and insurance issues challenging any business delivering health care using independent contractors. But the growing field has garnered serious funding from investors who believe consumers are more comfortable summoning health care via apps.

Some local startups have taken the virtual approach. Talkspace, perhaps the most high-profile example, has thousands of licensed therapists, including several hundred in the New York City area, providing video and text-based counseling and therapy.

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