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There’s Nothing Humerus About This M’sian App 

That Gives Doctors A Shot At The Gig Economy

Written by: Joycelyn Tan | August 18, 2020 

With the rise of the gig economy industry, literally anyone could earn some extra cash for simple one-off projects like delivering food or packages over Grab, or designing a logo for a new business.

Tiffany wanted a way for highly skilled professionals like nurses and doctors to do the same while maximising their earning potential with the expertise they have. 

At the same time, she wanted to address the problems healthcare facilities faced when looking for temporary replacement staff.

“When the staff had to take emergency leave or were on medical leave, teams were forced to scramble to find replacements for assigned shifts, relying on their personal network of friends, ex-colleagues and sometimes, resorting to desperate social media searches to fill these roles,” she explained.

There needed to be a proper avenue where healthcare facilities could source qualified professionals in a manner that was faster and safer.

So she came up with Locum Apps, a mobile app developed by WeAssist.

It Works Like An E-Hailing App

Medical professionals can register for an account online with their IC and Annual Practicing Certificate (APC).

They can also put in details on their areas of expertise in their “About Me” page, which will be verified by the team. 

Locum staff can book jobs in advance based on their availability, or book last minute openings if they happen to be nearby the hospital or clinic needing them, which can be viewed on the app’s built-in map.

Just like being able to check a Grab driver’s service quality, the app also functions with a rating system so healthcare facilities are able to rate a staff’s competency and performance in carrying out specific jobs.

Of course, healthcare facilities must first key in the specific details of tasks they need carried out and the type of machinery they operate.

The rating system makes sure locum staff will only accept jobs they’re confident in performing or otherwise risk affecting their rating negatively.

“This rating system is unique to the healthcare locum field as often locum staff do not know why they are not able to book repeat jobs,” Tiffany said.

“By receiving constant feedback on every shift, doctors and nurses are able to learn from every shift, creating a cycle of learning which produces better outcomes for patients overall.”

Working On Off Days

For healthcare providers to take up locum jobs, they would need to have some time on their hands. 

To us, the concept sounded almost like getting a substitute teacher to fill in for an absent one, so we expected that most of their user base was either retired professionals or unemployed fresh grads.

Contrary to this belief, we learnt the average user on Locum Apps was usually in their 30s.

“Although we do have a few registered staff in their 60s, they’re not retired but are actively serving. We only accept registrations from healthcare staff with a valid APC which has to be updated yearly.”

“In this regard, these healthcare staff tend to be attached to an existing hospital and carry out locum work on their off days,” she added.

We were also curious about how much a locum staff is able to earn from using this platform.

“For a doctor that is earning RM40 an hour, if he carries out two 6-hour shifts a week, he would be able to earn RM1,920 of additional income a month,” Tiffany replied.

“This number, of course, can increase if the doctor is able to take up longer shifts or multiple shifts a day.” 

Tiffany explained that locum staff are also a cost-effective option for healthcare organisations. 

“Because locum staff are temporary workers, healthcare facilities are better able to manage their human resources expenses in tandem with patient load.”

This also benefits a healthcare facility in terms of hiring permanent staff, as it’s a more comprehensive way of figuring out a person’s attitude and capabilities compared to a job interview. 

“As such, employing locum staff over an initial period can be a useful way for healthcare facilities to determine whether they wish to hire the candidate for a long term period,” she said.

Growing Their Numbers

Currently, Locum Apps has 3 healthcare facilities on board and 2,114 registered locum staff, but it wasn’t easy from the start.

Following the app’s online launch on May 6, the team was faced with the challenge of reaching out to healthcare facilities to register for the application. 

Tiffany explained that hospitals and clinic chains often have to go through several rounds of approval before being able to utilise the app, and the restrictions during the MCO only made this process longer.

“As a relatively new startup team with very young employees, we also had to ensure that our youthful faces were able to inspire trust amongst the healthcare facilities we visited and presented to,” she added.

Having only been in operations for two months, Locum Apps has not broken even but has started earning revenue from May. 

“We know that working on a mobile application such as Locum Apps relies on growth in numbers first, before we expect to hit our target revenue,” said Tiffany.

When asked about how they plan to achieve this, Tiffany shared that their strategy is to use Locum Apps as the go-to resource for healthcare staff and grow their media platforms for advertising space.

In the future, they aim to launch a second version of their app, called Locum Homes.

It’s targetted to individuals requiring home care services, with the assurance that the staff sent to their homes are qualified to the standard accepted in hospitals and clinics in Malaysia.