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Exclusive: Health care staffing company ShiftKey gets $300M

Illustration of a doctor wearing a virtual reality headset.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Health-care staffing technology company ShiftKey raised $300 million in a round that tips the company's valuation over $2 billion, CEO Tom Ellis tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: A labor shortage plagued the U.S. before the pandemic and COVID led to record levels of burnout and quitting among nurses and clinicians. ShiftKey's solutions is offering flexible scheduling.

Deal details: Majority investor Lorient Capital sponsored the investment, completed through a continuation vehicle led by the Ares Management Secondaries funds and Pantheon.

  • Additional backers included Clearlake Capital and Health Velocity Capital.
  • Goldman Sachs and Aviditi Advisors were advisers and placement agents to Lorient Capital, and McDermott Will & Emery and Gibson Dunn were legal advisors.
  • With the funds, ShiftKey is focused on scaling and experimenting with expanding its approach to other health care subsectors and industries.

Context: With health-care staffing shortages growing so dire they're affecting patients' ability to get timely care, investors are turning to providers of tech-driven staffing marketplaces and other job-matching tools.

Yes, but: Ellis says many ShiftKey competitors still function like traditional staffing agencies, meaning they simply ask for workers' availability and plug them into open shifts.

  • He says ShiftKey by contrast offers the "freedom of shopping for exactly what you want, where you want it."

How it works: Dallas, Texas-based ShiftKey links licensed health care workers with openings at clinics and hospitals. Those workers include registered nurses, certified medical assistants and others, all of whom sign up directly with the company's website or app.

  • ShiftKey's API is capable of automatically approving roughly 50% of the workers who sign up, says Ellis. The other 50% must be approved manually.

State of play: ShiftKey has worked with roughly 5,000 health care facilities, and each week sees health care workers from roughly 3,000 of those facilities sign up for shifts.

What's next: Ellis says he's thinking about ShiftKey's future in other subsectors of health care and in industries outside of health care as well.

  • "We’ve dipped our toes a little into dentistry and into some therapies and next, who knows?"
  • "Health care is their beachhead but we see the technology as portable across other industries," says Lorient Capital managing partner David Berman.

The backstory: The company got its start after Ellis walked into a friend's office and overheard a phone call in which he was attempting to fill nursing shifts over the phone.

  • "It was literally, 'Can you take this 10 AM? What about this 11 AM?' and I said, 'let's move this online,'" Ellis says.

What they're saying: Steven Wardell, a digital health consultant with Wardell Advisors, tells Axios he sees potential in tech-driven health care staffing tools for two reasons:

  • Automated tools can review health care workers' credentials faster and more easily than manual processes.
  • "Younger nurses also probably think this is how staffing should and will be run. They’re on their phones a lot," he says. "They don’t think they’re going to get their shift by talking to someone or visiting somewhere."
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