After three years of caring for Canadians amid a global pandemic, the nation’s health-care system is heaving under the pressure. According to Statistics Canada, job vacancies in Canada’s health and social assistance sector increased by 78.8 per cent between the third quarter of 2019 and the third quarter of 2021. Vacancies have led to hospital closures and delays in surgeries. It’s a complex and pervasive problem that Canadian health-tech company Premier Health of America is tackling head-on. 

Premier Health of America provides a comprehensive range of staffing and outsourced service solutions for health-care needs to governments, corporations and individuals in Canada, including emergency room and operating room personnel, medical transport and remote location specialists. 

“Canada’s health-care providers are running low on qualified resources and overutilizing the ones we have,” says Eric Dupont, chief technology officer of Premier Health of America. “With our skilled team and proprietary technology platform, we’re able to provide clients with faster, more cost effective, and accessible care services and staff. We’re like the Uber for health care.” 

The Uber-ization of Canada’s workforce 

Using its proprietary PSweb technology platform, Premier Health of America enables people to connect to specific work shifts in mere seconds, empowering medical personnel to confirm availability and assignments in real time. With PSweb, the business process is seamless – from recruitment to deployment and billing. The technology is AI-enabled, allowing for the gathering of business intelligence that improves decision-making and the customer experience. 

While staffing and recruitment firms have been around for a while, technology or platform-based staffing agencies are growing in popularity in the United States, Europe and Canada. Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) is the global advisor on staffing and workforce solutions. The company’s proprietary research covers all categories of employed and non-employed work, including temporary staffing, independent contracting and other types of contingent labor. According to its May 2021 update on the temporary staffing industry, SIA found that customer interest in the efficiencies generated by self-service models is on the rise. In the company’s Workforce Solutions Buyer Surveys, the share of enterprise buyers planning to consider the use of talent platforms in the next two years rose sharply from 5 per cent in 2015 to 47 per cent in 2020. 

Timothy Landhuis, director of research, North America, for SIA, says travel nurses working through platform-based staffing agencies are enormously popular in the United States. 

“This industry is booming since the pandemic, with hospitals needing more staff. There is a growing demand for travel nurses who relocate from one part of the country to another. We’re also seeing this trend with respiratory therapists and other allied health professionals.” 

Landhuis says that, with rigid standards and licensing requirements in health-care professions, the nursing role, for instance, can be replaced with relative ease across different health-care providers. 

At the same time, Landhuis says using the services of a platform-based agency makes life easier for nurses. “It’s a great approach for nurses because they don’t have 20 agencies calling and pressuring them. They can shop around, choose between hospitals, read reviews of different facilities, compare pay packages. It’s a win for the nurse – the experience, the transparency, and the options.” 

Meeting job seekers and employers where they’re at 

In Canada, job seekers are increasingly attracted to Premier Health of America’s unique and intuitive approach. 

“The younger generation is looking for flexibility and control over their work schedule. Mobile technology is an integral part of their life. We remove all the roadblocks for them. Compensation is already negotiated. Our process is frictionless,” Dupont says. 

Canada’s health-care providers are also realizing the benefits of Premier Health of America’s innovative and seamless approach when it comes to cost, scalability, speed of execution and quality of care. 

“We can actually have a nurse assigned to a hospital in five minutes using our proprietary software,” Dupont says. “We are able to facilitate the entry of nurses into new hospitals and new territories, offer them more flexibility with their own time, and at the same time ensure the hospitals have the kind of talent and experience they need.” 

Today, Premier Health of America has more than 4,500 staff working primarily in Quebec and Northern Canada and the demand is growing. 

“We are working with hospitals, medical clinics and retirement homes. We are doing private placements in remote parts of Canada where we will send a nurse for weeks or months depending on the need,” Dupont says. “We have private customers searching for at-home care who can simply go to our app and find the support they need.” 

In 2021, Premier Health of America launched its transport division after being awarded two long-term paratransit contracts by the Government of Quebec valued at $18-million. Paratransit service is a non-ambulatory, adapted medical transport to transfer patients for treatments and medical appointments between facilities in light vehicles that have such specialized equipment as multi-position chairs, bariatric chairs, vital signs monitors and central oxygen devices. 

Premier Health uses its technology platform’s dispatching and monitoring features, ensuring each transport is accompanied by a nurse. With a strong foothold in Quebec, Premier Health plans to expand this service across Canada. 

An innovative way forward for pandemic recovery 

SIA estimates the Canadian temporary staffing industry grew 11 per cent in 2021 to reach $9.2-billion. As governments grapple with how to address growing health-care deficits and ensure Canadians receive quality, accessible health care, Premier Health is optimistic the interest in its unique and innovative platform-based staffing and services model will continue to grow. With a database of more than 35,000 professionals and 500 client organizations, including governments, institutions and private individuals in North America – with deep knowledge, expertise and a coveted technology platform – it is well-positioned to serve the burgeoning demand for health-care and other professionals in Canada and beyond. 

“As Canada emerges from the deep and far-reaching impacts of the pandemic, we plan to expand across Canada so that more working professionals, governments and institutions have access to the Premier Health of America’s unique programs and services,” Dupont says.