When she was a little girl in India, Rohini Bochaton recalls the day her mother left the family home to obtain a master’s degree in public health from a U.S. university through a World Health Organization scholarship.
“That was the price she paid,” Bochaton said of her mother not being able to see her children for three years while studying. “I still get emotional about it. I missed her. I knew at that young age what it takes for a woman to be a vision and a professional. She was one of those women who came back to India and laid the foundation for the framework of [public] health. She believed in empowering women at the grass-roots level.”
Now, with advanced degrees and years of experience in the technology field, the Westlake resident is seeking to spread news of Praos Health, a web-based platform and mobile app.
Bochaton developed the program to allow nurses to be able to select the shift, location and salary they need to meet their schedules in the hospitals that need shift nurses.
Praos, the Greek word for balance of power, connects health care professionals needing a flexible schedule with the health care facilities—hospitals, acute long-term care facilities, emergency care centers or home health agencies—seeking a floating pool of extra nurses. Bochaton said the project, now in beta testing in more than a half-dozen Central Texas health care facilities, benefits nurses by offering them a choice of shifts and pay, Bochaton said. Hospitals that have a wavering demand for health care help amid a shortage of certified nurses can save money on permanent staffing and overhead costs, she said.
“Making sure you've got enough staff to take care of patients is a huge thing," said Mary Brunn, RN, MSN, who is an associate professor in the vocational nursing program at Austin Community College. “The supply of nurses is pretty good in Central Texas. There are [staffing] models to predict [a hospital’s needs], but it’s really hard to hit [the right number] on the head. If you have an influx of patients, [the hospital] has to call staffing agencies to get nursing staff.”
She said she has personally worked through health staffing agencies but did not get to have a say in where she was employed.
“Instead of going through an agency, the nurses get a picture of all of the hospitals [that] need workers,” Brunn said. “The [hospital’s staffing requests] are much more in real time, and nurses have the control in their hands to see what is available and what they will be paid—to have more flexibility with their shifts. Nurses control that [scheduling] rather than having a non-health care person in the middle.”
Bochaton has a patent pending on the app that includes providing nurse participants with a mobile “professional briefcase” filled with a list of their educational degrees, certifications and experience level that a participating health care member can access to determine if a nurse's skill set will fit the facility’s on-demand needs.
“The financial barrier for small to medium hospitals to adopt this is zero,” Bochaton said. “The upside is that when the shift is filled, the nurse who comes for that particular shift has all the things they need that today the [hospitals] scramble for—the [human resources] files, the [credential updates], which is a big cost to them. So we eliminate that.”
Whereas small to medium hospitals can sign up for the app and incur a charge only if a requested shift is filled, larger hospitals or facilities can pay a monthly fee to subscribe to the app to help fill overage staffing needs, she said.
The opportunity to choose the time and place a nurse works a shift—as well as his or her pay—appeals to nurses who are trying to work around the schedules of their young children as well as semi-retired or retired nurses who do not want to lose that skill set.
“If [a Praos member nurse] has a free afternoon, she can work, make a little money and help out her colleagues,” Brunn said.
For Bochaton, the Praos app creation and marketplace testing is more than a business.
“Make sure you are independent, you are always involved, you are giving back,” Bochaton said with reference to women in the workplace. “And that’s what I want to bring to nursing.”