In this interview, we talk to David Deane, the SVP of Wanderly, about shaking up the healthcare staffing industry, the fate of recruiters in an increasingly automated world, and what it takes to win in staffing in the years to come.

StaffingHub: We’re here with David Deane, that SVP of Wanderly, which is a re-imagined recruitment marketplace. First, David, I just want to say thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today.

Deane: Absolutely. I’m really excited to be on the podcast. I will say this is my first podcast that I’m recording, so I apologize to the audience if I’m boring, if I ramble on a little bit. I’m really excited about the podcast. Really excited to talk about Wanderly and my background, so we can get started whenever you would like.

StaffingHub: Awesome. So one of Wanderly’s mottos is “we challenge the status quo.” And I’m really interested in that idea because I think the healthcare staffing industry could use a little challenging. So I wondered if you could talk a little bit about what that means you.

Deane: Yes, that’s a great place to start in talking about Wanderly. We challenge the status quo every day at Wanderly. When we started Wanderly February, 2017, we really started out to solve supply issues in the travel nursing industry and travel healthcare industry.

And when I say supply issues, it’s all of these, we have so many great companies in our industry that have great experiences that treat the nurses so well, and do such a great job with those nurses. And my kudos always goes out to all those companies.

But what I’ve seen over the years in my career is you have a lot of companies doing great things. Nobody actually said, “Okay, we’re going to actually think about what the nurse has to do,” from a job search standpoint. What the nurse has to do, what kind of paperwork the nurse has to do when she wants to go engage with a healthcare staffing agency.

And we really started with that process. We did 6-12 months of research throughout that process and really learned about travel nurses — how they tick, how they go and find jobs, how they go and interact with agencies.

So, when I say coming back to challenging the status quo, as you ask, Caitlin, it’s about understanding what the industry is all about and understanding some of the pain points that the nurses have on a daily basis.

And what we found in that research was that nurses want the opportunity to understand what agencies offer first and foremost. And that’s why it was a really proud moment for me when I think three months into our launch at TravCon, nurses started calling us the “Kayak of travel nursing.”

And that was really awesome to hear, because on Wanderly, a nurse can go, find all of the agency offerings from a pay package standpoint rather than go spend hours on Facebook trying to figure out what companies paying what. We designed and built an algorithm that delivers an excellent experience from a nurse’s standpoint to understand what an agency is offering, and has the ability to compare pay packages for all those agencies. Does that answer your question on innovation?

StaffingHub: Yeah, absolutely. And I was wondering too, I know a lot of staffing agencies are sort of understandably shy about sharing their information or especially as it comes up against competing with other staffing agencies, and I wonder if you could talk little bit about how you’re really a partner with staffing agencies with the services you provide.

Deane: That’s a great question. And that was… Everybody asks Wanderly, “what was the toughest things that you dealt with after you launched?” And that was the biggest challenge. Going out and talking with agencies to get them to understand why we want to show the nurses what they pay.

Most of the agencies, I think the first 25 people we talked to said, “You guys are commoditizing the industry. You’re ruining the industry.”

And we said, “We respect that, but we also respect the fact that we’ve built something that is really is not commoditization.”

The commoditization of the industry has happened with the advent of the internet and nurses meet up or talk to each other online.

I think what we quickly learned in that first six months was that, yes, nurses care about pay, but at the end of the day, they also care about being an educated consumer.

Deane: And I always go back to… We live in a world of Amazon. Caitlin, do you use Amazon?

StaffingHub: Yeah, absolutely.

Deane: So, everybody uses Amazon, and everybody expects their packages to be on the front porch in one to two days.

And all the research that we did, nurses expect that same service from healthcare staffing agencies. They want to be able to shop around. They want to be able to understand what pay packages are offered by what agencies, what locations are offered by what agencies. One of the most popular things on our site now today is that nurses can go and find if agency A offers benefits from day one, or they don’t offer benefits until their second, third assignment or 30 days in. And I say that I bring that up because it’s so popular because that’s one of the things that nurses care about.

Healthcare today, we all know that healthcare is a challenge in America right now because it’s so expensive. When you come down to looking at a pay package, a nurse having to pay a lot of money for her healthcare isn’t… his or her healthcare is an issue. And that’s definitely something that’s really resonated with the community of Wanderly travelers out there.

StaffingHub: And so it seems like you addressed a little bit some of the issues facing both the nurses and healthcare staffing agencies. And I wonder if you’ve seen already in your tenure how Wanderly has helped change how staffing agencies and travel nurses or healthcare travelers we relate to each other.

Deane: That’s a great question. One of the coolest things at Wanderly has been to watch the change that we’re bringing to the industry.

And a perfect example of that is when a nurse submits to a job at an agency with a recruiter, they get 95% of the documents required to submit that nurse to their client. And I say that that’s one of the coolest parts of the change, is that in the past, the recruiter engages with a nurse.

They talk about pay, they talk about all the extra paperwork you have to do, and then there’s a pause in that process. There’s a pause in the process because that nurse has to then go and fill out all the paperwork, do all the skills checklist, et cetera, et cetera.

With Wanderly there’s no pause, and that’s really kind of… I’ll just go back to Amazon again, there’s no pause and when you don’t have a pause in that process and everything is smooth.

The recruiter doesn’t have to follow up with that nurse to badger her about finishing her skills checklist that the nurse really doesn’t want to finish because they might’ve already done three or four of those extra skills checklists for other companies that they might not have found the job with.

So when you have all that information right at your fingertips and you take that away from the recruiter in the nurse relationship, what results is…

With Wanderly, the nurse and the recruiter can focus on building a relationship.

The recruiter makes sure that the nurse understands their pay, understands their contract, really all of the important stuff with that relationship.

And I think that’s the most, I’ll use the word profound change that we’ve seen in the industry. Recruiters are so happy because they say, “it’s really easy to use Wanderly because I don’t have to text a nurse 50 times to do their skills checklists. I don’t have to tell them that I need different work history, et cetera, et cetera. It just makes all that process so easy.” So the nurse and the recruiter can really focus on the relationship.

StaffingHub: It sounds like that is ideally what we want our tech solutions to do, especially in an industry like staffing that is so built on relationships and really the thing that differentiates staffing from so each other and from completely automated solutions, is the relationship part of it. And I wonder… Widening our scope a little bit, if you could talk about any tech solutions that you’ve noticed, or tech innovations that you’re excited about that also help foster better relationships in the industry.

Deane: You know, there’s so much technology converging into our industry right now, obviously one comes to mind and that’s Wanderly, self-promotion there. But, there’s not one that really stands out right now to me.

I think the advent of text messaging coming into the industry years ago was something that really changed the way recruiters and nurses interact and really enabled people to do a great job in communicating.

And it’s a little easier to communicate with text messages. So, staying on the text message throughout, I think the company called Herefish and I know that TextUs does a great job with texting. Herefish is another one that really brought that texting to another level.

[Herefish] really helps that it helps engage the nurse. Herefish makes the nurse’s life a little easier just like Wanderly does, and I think that’s one of the technologies that I’ve seen out there that does a great job with making everything easier for the nurse.

And I think that’s the coolest thing about all of this technology converging into our spaces, that the healthcare staffing industry is typically five to 10 years behind the rest of the world from a technological standpoint, and we’re watching that happen in front of our eyes and it’s only going to improve the industry.

Now you have all those companies out there that are also trying to disintegrate the agency. But I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.

I think the agency of the future is going to look a lot different, and nurses are going to be able to do a lot more stuff self-service. But recruiters are here to stay. Recruiters have a place in this world.

They do a great job because there’s always going to be that nurse that wants someone to guide them through the process and whatnot.

StaffingHub: And you, before Wanderly, have a lot of experience growing staffing firms, increasing their value, facilitating acquisitions. And I wonder if you can talk a little bit about what it really takes in this industry to make a staffing firm profitable.

Deane: Well, I’ll say this, it takes a village. This business and my career has been focused around one thing, tried to try to make my… I think when I want to start with a new company or when I leave a company it’s because I’m bored. And when I started with a new company that’s because I want a new challenge. And I typically, when I’m at a company, I’m looking to move up, I’m looking to take the toughest assignment and I’m looking to grow through the ranks of those companies. And I’ve done that throughout my career.

So, to answer your question, what it takes to build a successful travel nursing, travel healthcare company today: it takes a lot of passion. It takes a lot of hard work. I think grit is something that you have to have, that you have to have that grittiness to be able to do something, to be able to keep pushing harder and harder and keep looking at every single day and achieving one thing every day and getting through the tough times because it’s a tough business.

It’s funny, Caitlin you asked that question because, when I really learned… When I started in this industry with Maxim healthcare, I quickly learned that and I said to myself, “If you can stay in this industry and learn it and get really good at it, you’ll move up and you’ll have a really bright future in the industry,” because it’s such a challenging industry..

That’s how I’ve really come to build successful companies in the industry, by just really working hard, understanding, being compassionate with the people you work with, being understanding of what we’re all doing and building great cultures.

But to answer your question, at the end of the day, it’s all about culture. It’s all about the people and it’s all about caring every single day and showing your nurses, showing your clients and showing all of your employees that you care every single day and just building on that.

StaffingHub: Yeah, absolutely. I wonder along sort of like thinking about the community of leaders that you’ve worked with, what’s your favorite piece of leadership advice that you’ve ever received?

Deane: It was early on back in the day when I worked at Maxim, my first manager and actually the gentleman who works for us today as our Director of Partnership development at Wanderly, Jason Abou-Samra. He just taught me to care about my employees and show them that I care about them.

And as a leader, especially in our industry where it’s customer-service driven and it’s challenging, when your employees know that you care about them and you know that you show them that you believe that their job is hard and you show them that you believe in them and you care, that’s one of the most powerful things that I’ve ever learned that Jason taught me. I think in my first month when I was with Maxim health care.

Just care, caring goes a long way, as we all know.

StaffingHub: Yeah, absolutely. And maybe related to this, but maybe jumping off in a different direction, how do you see the staffing industry changing in the next couple of years?

Deane:  That’s interesting. I think there’s a lot of consolidation going on right now, and I think the consolidation our industry’s going to continue.

I think there’s going to be, as we’re seeing, and I think I talked about this before, there’s a lot of interest in our industry from a technology standpoint. So obviously when you throw technology plus the… When you throw technology in with that consolidation, it’s going to produce a completely different landscape.

And I believe that. I think I talked about this before, the technology or the staffing company of the future is going to be laid in with technology all throughout. It’s going to be like most industries in the world right now, there is a change going on and that change is, everybody is laser-focused on the experience.

And I think to answer that question from a high level, the companies who win with customer experience and give the nurse the best experience and then also balance that with giving their customers, meaning their hospital’s, the best experience, giving the hospitals access to the best talent.

Those are the people that are going to win, the people who are obsessed with experience.

Let’s do the best job. And I say that it’s very easy to say that, because that’s really what’s going on in the world today. We’re in the world today and it’s going to get very similar to the rest of the world. We’re just a little bit behind that, but it’s whoever has the best experience will win.

StaffingHub: And what’s on the horizon for Wanderly?

Deane: There’s a lot of things on the horizon for Wanderly right now. We’re growing at a really breakneck pace right now.

I think watching our community develop over the last couple of years – it’s been really interesting and we’ve just hit our stride from a community standpoint, everybody always has a light bulb. All the nurses that we talk to, and recruiters, and everyone in the industry we talk to, has this light bulb moment where we’re something new, we’re something different. And when people look at us, I always think about it like a dog, right? When you have a puppy dog, that dog looks at you and he’s really cute and then he turns his head and he gets a little cuter. But people have that look and they look at us and say, “What is this?”

And then for example, a nurse understands that they can go and try to find a position at in Los Angeles. And rather than have to go and find 20 different places to 20 different recruiters to talk to about that position, they can just go to one place.

It’s really fantastic to watch that, and those light bulbs go off.

But to answer your question, what’s on the horizon, we’re doing a lot of different things. We have a lot of different tracks in our company, so really exciting stuff and I think the future is bright. We’re meeting a lot of people in the industry, people outside the industry.

And one of the coolest things about the horizon of Wanderly is that every single person we meet with, whether it be a small company or large company, they look at us differently because they just look at us and say, “Well, we could do this with you guys.”

That’s really one of the coolest things from a horizonal standpoint is that having these meetings with these companies and everybody sees us a little bit differently as far as what we can do. And that’s what’s really cool.

So to answer your question, the horizon is bright for Wanderly and it’s really exciting, but it’s going to be… Who knows what it’s actually going to be doing in the future. I do know one thing that we’re going to stick to our mission of delivering healthcare talent to all of our clients, agencies, hospitals, MSPs, delivering healthcare talent faster in a more meaningful way to the industry. And that’s really what our mission is at the end of the day.

StaffingHub: Well, that’s really exciting and I’m excited to see where you guys go as you continue to grow and shake things up in the industry. Thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciated your insight.

Deane: Yes. Well, thank you. Thank you so much for letting me come on and I apologize to your audience if I rambled on a little bit, but it’s my first podcast I was really nervous about it, but I had, this has been a blast, Caitlin, and thank you for doing what you do and your podcast is great, and if there’s anything else and any other questions anyone has, I’m sure Caitlin will give out my information, but I look forward to helping the industry one day at a time.

StaffingHub: Awesome. Thank you so much, David.

Deane: Have a great day, Caitlin.

StaffingHub: You too.

About Wanderly

Wanderly is a technology marketplace platform created for traveling healthcare professionals and leading healthcare staffing companies.  As the “Kayak” of healthcare staffing, Wanderly offers unparalleled transparency when comparing pay packages and benefits on any device, from anywhere in the world.  The ecosystem has been designed to enable meaningful connections among travel healthcare professionals, recruiters, agencies & health systems.

Wanderly is committed to building innovative solutions that enable all adopters of our technology to operate with speed, efficiency & integrity. The future of work in healthcare is a primary focus of Wanderly which uses machine learning to continue the growth of the healthcare staffing industry.