Digital staffing company Aya Healthcare picks up Winnow AI to bolster its physician recruitment tech

Digital staffing company Aya Healthcare acquired Winnow AI to bolster its physician recruitment capabilities as the industry grapples with a historic provider shortage.

Winnow AI is a data-science-driven recruiting solution that identifies predictive matches and referral connections for each open role at a provider organization. The startup combines artificial intelligence with business intelligence to help organizations tap into a unique source of passive physicians who are likely to relocate to their region.

Winnow AI launched just two years ago to "unlock a better approach to physician recruiting," Ray Guzman, co-founder of Winnow AI and CEO of SwitchPoint Ventures, wrote in a LinkedIn post.

"The speed at which Winnow gained traction demonstrated that it was solving a huge pain point, one that demanded disruption of the status quo. We’re delighted that Aya has the same massive vision for Winnow that we do, and we look forward to innovating and growing together," Guzman wrote.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Aya Healthcare, with more than 7,000 global employees, operates a digital staffing platform that provides every component of healthcare-focused labor services, including travel nursing and allied health, per diem, permanent staff hiring, interim leadership, locum tenens and nonclinical professionals, according to the company. Aya’s software suite includes vendor management, float pool technology, provider services and predictive analytics.

The Winnow AI acquisition marks Aya Healthcare's third M&A deal in five months as the company works to build up its AI capabilities for staffing, hiring and retention.

In July, Aya Healthcare picked up Flexwise Health, a company that offers technology to forecast gaps in patient demand and staffing levels. Its aim is to assist hospitals in optimizing resource allocation and cost.

A few weeks later, the company acquired Polaris AI, a machine learning platform that predicts future patient volume and staffing levels in clinical settings. Polaris utilizes proprietary machine learning algorithms to intelligently inform staffing needs and provide tools for systems to effectively distribute internal resources and plan alternative schedules.

With its latest deal, Winnow AI will operate within Aya’s Provider Solutions division. The company says the startup's capabilities complement its DocCafe brand, a physician talent acquisition platform with the nation’s largest pool of active job seekers. Aya’s Provider Solutions division will now be able to offer both active and passive job seeker recruitment platforms. The division also enables healthcare organizations to hire locum providers and manage their provider recruitment and engagement through Aya Connect, according to the company.

“We’re able to help healthcare organizations effectively fill their open provider positions by offering Winnow AI to identify passive job seekers and DocCafe to effectively recruit active physician job seekers,” said Alan Braynin, president and CEO of Aya Healthcare, in a statement. “This acquisition is an example of our never-ending quest to deliver innovative solutions to our clients that create greater efficiencies, generate cost savings, and improve access to care for the communities they serve.”

Winnow’s AI predicts which physicians are likely to change jobs and where they are most likely to relocate. These insights equip medical leaders and in-house recruiters to drive novel candidate options and referrals and to create perfectly aligned provider teams, leading to faster, more efficient physician recruitment, the company said.

"Winnow AI offers a more targeted approach to building all-star teams by pinpointing candidates who match the profiles of a company’s best doctors,” Guzman said in a statement. "Aya’s ability to scale Winnow’s innovative solution will help healthcare companies dramatically improve their ability to attract, hire, and retain the best-fit providers for their organizations.”

Companies tackling the physician and nursing workforce shortage are attracting big money from investors. There's been a lot of funding activity around startups offering tools and platforms aimed at making it easier to find, fill and upskill for healthcare jobs. According to Pitchbook, a sample list of 17 funded startups tied to the space collectively raised more than $700 million from June 2021 to June 2022.

As of June 2022, those companies, including Trusted Health, IntelyCare and Nomad Health, raised over $1.15 billion.

Two years ago, Aya Healthcare acquired Vizient's Contract Labor Management business unit and transitioned it to Vaya Workforce Solutions. That business operates as a vendor-neutral workforce solutions provider covering whole-house contract labor needs.