Fort Worth sisters tackle nursing shortage, pay with app

Sarah O'Connor and Leah Cooper

Shift-working app works like Uber for nurses

Sadiant Health brings nurses and facilities together through technology

Technology increasingly allows people and businesses to get what they need at the touch of a button – food, rides, housekeepers and lawn workers – revolutionizing the way business is done.

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Fort Worth sisters Leah Cooper and Sarah O’Connor saw this trend as a chance to use on-demand technology to help hospitals and health care facilities hire nurses to fill shift vacancies.

Through the use of their app, Sadiant Health, they are not only helping to alleviate some of Texas’s nursing shortage, but they also are able to pay nurses 20 percent more for their work while simultaneously charging health care facilities 25 percent less than a traditional staffing agency.

When a nurse working at a hospital calls in sick, if that shift cannot be filled by a nurse already on staff, the replacement process can be tedious and expensive.

The charge nurse calls a local staffing agency, which checks availability and verifies workers’ credentials.

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Agencies have to pay recruiters and the credentialing team.

“We don’t have that,” O’Connor said. “All of that is done via technology. First of all, you’re able to reach the health care professional faster, quicker, immediately, and second of all you have a pre-populated list of credentials within our app.”

Through Sadiant Health, nurses can indicate when they are available and upload information on their certificates, licenses, degrees and other references. The nurses list the credential, when it was issued and by whom, and post an image picture of the physical certificate.

A Sadiant employee verifies that the data entered matches the image of the certificate, but 90 percent of the workload has been cut back.

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The savings in labor lets Sadiant Health pay nurses 20 percent more per shift and charge the health care facilities 25 percent less than traditional staffing agencies.

The charge nurse can open the Sadiant Health app, enter a shift and see a list of names and credentials for each available worker, in addition to their location relative to the facility’s location – all at the touch of a button.

“The average RN gets anywhere from $30, $33 an hour – we’re offering $42. It’s a game-changer,” O’Connor said. The company makes money the same way a traditional staffing agency makes money – earning the difference between the fee charged the facility and the fee paid the nurse. There is no fee for nurses to sign up and there is no fee for the facility to access the portal.

Sadiant Health also has something typically missing from the gig – or freelance – economy: automatic federal tax withholding via W-2 forms.

“You’re a W-2 employee,” O’Connor said. “We pay for half of your taxes, but you have the flexibility to work as much as you want or as little as you want.”

Cooper said she believes the fact that Sadiant Health uses a W-2 model is the reason it was the first app-based staffing agency the American Staffing Association didn’t reject, making Sadiant Health a member of the association.


Although Cooper, 38, holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the Chamberlain College of Nursing in Irving, she didn’t have a straight path into the health care and nursing field.

She started as a housekeeper in a nursing home shortly after 9/11. Since then she’s worked at various nursing homes and Veterans’ Affairs’ offices and as a travel nurse for multiple agencies. Cooper officially finished her secondary schooling in 2017, but it’s her experience that led to the Sadiant Health concept.

Cooper had first-hand experience as the charge nurse in facilities where she worked, trying to balance her daily duties while struggling to call around and find the right person to fill an open shift. The tedious traditional process takes the charge nurse away from other duties and, the sisters say, can lead to patients not getting the care they need.

“I just wanted the nurses to be able to have some sort of calendar where they could, at the touch of a button, say they were available or not available,” Cooper said.

She reached out to her sister for the business sense.

O’Connor is a 39-year-old Frisco resident and step-mom of two with a background in business development and management. She holds an MBA from Texas Christian University and a bachelor’s degree from Texas Wesleyan University.

“What I really saw when Leah started talking about this idea was, first of all … the patients can really get the best care they need,” O’Connor said. “But then I really started thinking about it and I was like, ‘As a by-product of this, man, we could pay the nurses more and charge the facilities less.’”


And so, Sadiant Health has come to fruition as the tool that connects health care workers to health care facilities.

When a facility’s representative needs a health care professional, he or she will log in to the online dashboard of Sadiant Health – the nurses use the app version – and select a timeframe, say 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, to see who is available and their credentials, specialties and specific skills. All can be printed out and added to the facility’s documentation for that part-time worker.

And, says Cooper, the facility can select someone specific rather than taking whoever the agency sends. That, she says, gives nurses an incentive “to be at their best because then they’ll be at the top of the list.”

The nurse selected is notified by mobile phone and can accept or decline the job. If the nurse accepts, the app will sync the job to the nurse’s calendar with instructions and directions and who to check in with.


According to the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies, by 2030 Texas will face a shortage of all nurse types – registered nurses, nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse-midwives. The Center’s Nurse Supply and Demand Projections, 2015-2030 report said that the supply of all those nurse types is expected to fall short of demand each year through 2030.

Cooper says the nursing shortage is not going away anytime soon.

The report projects a shortfall by 2030 of 20 percent or 15,688 registered nurses; 25 percent or 1,281 nurse practitioners; 17.7 percent or 228 certified registered nurse anesthetists; and 80 percent or 269 certified nurse-midwifes.

With the aid of an app-based medical gig economy system like Sadiant Health, Cooper and O’Connor hope to help lessen the blow, because while they agree there is a shortage, they also believe there is a misallocation of resources.

The sisters originally thought the main users of the app would be people working full time and wanting to grab an extra shift. But it turns out their main demographic is something altogether different.

“We did a survey when we were trying to just figure was this going to work out and we were expecting the younger crowd to really, really want this product, but in all actuality, the highest percentage of people that were wanting this were the retired nurses with the experience to teach others,” Cooper said.

Cooper and O’Connor are also finding that many local colleges are motivated to place their certified medical assistants in a job post graduationSadiant Health uses an online applicant tracking system for graduates to apply. The applicants have to pass the competency test and background check beforehand.

“It’s great for the CMAs because they get the opportunity to get a face-to-face interaction the health care systems. The systems get to test them out; they get to test the system,” O’Connor said. “Then it can turn into a temp-to-perm position where, ‘Hey, we love you. You’ve done a great job!’”

The sisters have been working with Collin County Community College and Concorde Career College with two campuses in the Metroplex. Cooper or O’Connor attend the schools’ job fairs, where they meet and interview the students and select who will be moving on for training, testing and eventually job placement.

“What we’re finding is that a lot of the schools, the technical schools, we’re their No. 1 go-to for CMAs,” she said. “They are incentivized to place as many of their students with jobs because that helps them advertise a better job placement ratio. And then we’re offering someone brand new out of school the ability to work for one of the largest systems in North Texas, when they want and how they want.”


“We’re here to make this infinitely scalable; we’re here to make sure that patients get better care, and we’re here to make sure that we solve nursing burnout in hospitals because they are overworked,” O’Connor said.

She said that like a lot of markets, health care is moving toward the gig economy.

The reason a platform like Sadiant Health hasn’t already been available is because of the obstacle posed by the credentialing process. But the sisters have tackled that and they are ready to take the industry by storm.

Currently, the platform has a contract with one of the largest health care providers in North Texas, though the name cannot be disclosed for privacy reason. The sisters aim to expand through that provider’s network as well as seal a contracting deal with the second-largest health care provider in the state.

“What we’re doing is we are hyper-focused on growth. We’re hyper-focused on getting our solution out to as many nurses and as many health care facilities as we can in 2018 in Texas,” O’Connor said. “Then, the goal for 2019, and it may happen sooner rather than later, is to take this nationally.”

Because of the app and online-dashboard base of the platform, scalability is not an issue, O’Connor said.

Cooper said the overarching goal of Sadiant Health is to optimize patient care and lift the quality of health care in Fort Worth and North Texas to be a standard for the rest of the nation. With O’Connor leading the way as CEO and Cooper working on the ground level as a nurse within the platform, the sisters are ready to give health care and the nursing industry a much-needed facelift.