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March 19, 2023

Innovative Solutions to the Staffing Shortage in Healthcare

With the growing healthcare staffing shortage, many organizations can’t keep up with day-to-day patient outreach.

Eric Alvarez, Founder & CEO of Grapefruit Health, explains how his company is employing clinical students to alleviate these low acuity but highly necessary tasks.

After returning from military service, Eric Alvarez got his start in academia before moving to healthcare and delving into startups. It was this time working with students that led him to the idea of Grapefruit Health. 

By the year 2026 healthcare will be short by 3.2 million healthcare workers. Eric states that many of the current solutions for this problem greatly reduce performance and output while driving up costs. 

The year 2030 was always slated to be the year that our clinical aging workforce would max out, with baby boomers retiring at a much higher ratio than newcomers entering the profession. Many clinicians have either transitioned to part time or moved on to a gig economy platform. 

We have heard from various perspectives on the healthcare staffing shortage on this podcast and Grapefruit Health brings a new solution to address this monumental problem. They have created the world's first and only healthcare workforce composed solely of clinical students. 

Healthcare facilities often run programs to employ students, but this calls for a training preceptor and ultimately leads to an unproductive workflow. Grapefruit Health employees on the other hand provide assistance with remote, low acuity, high volume, repetitive telephonic tasks.

These include medication adherence, senior isolation and loneliness outreach calls, and post discharge follow up calls. All of these tasks are clinical in nature but do not require licensure.

About 10% of these telephonic tasks need a pharmacist interaction, in which case the employee will do a warm transfer to a pharmacist. This cuts down time greatly for short staffed pharmacy teams who would otherwise have to make all these repetitive calls themselves. 

Grapefruit Health offers their services at $5 per interaction and doesn’t charge for unsuccessful interactions such as when a call goes through to voicemail or a patient hangs up. 

Typically their client organizations have a program that's failing and are looking to supplement it or outsource it. After understanding the situation and what tasks and roles need to be filled, Grapefruit Health can build scripts and employ students and train them for the job in just six weeks.

Eric states that students are eager to learn with their clinical education fresh in their mind. Grapefruit Health leaves their employees with great skills and experience and even full time opportunities with the client organizations they worked with once they graduate.






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