Big Tech Is About to Make Our Terrible Health Care System Even Worse

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      According to proponents of the new model, it’s not the management-by-stress techniques employed by profit-focused hospital executives that are driving the labor exodus from health care. The problem is the lack of “flexibility.” It’s not understaffed and under-resourced hospital floors, according to Ahrens, but the “red tape (of) regulatory and licensing hurdles to practice” and the “onerous onboarding and credentialing processes that keep professionals in orientations instead of actually providing care” that are making people leave the profession they once cared deeply about. CareRev advertises higher wages to nurses than standard full-time employment, but in pitching the gig model to hospital administrators, Ahrens advises that “engaging professionals beyond money by focusing on flexibility is key.”

      The word “flexibility” does a lot of heavy lifting in selling gig work as innovative and emancipatory for workers. However, as political scientist and author of the book Consumer Management in the Internet Age: How Customers Became Managers in the Modern Workplace Joshua Sperber told Jacobin, “Flexibility means you’re fundamentally precarious.” Sperber noted that in traditional labor markets, workers compete with each other to fill job openings, but once in the workplace, they often find shared interests and some measure of stability. With the gig economy, workers are constantly in competition with each other for the next shift. Gig companies, says Sperber:

      promote the idea that you have the choice to say yes or no, pick up what hours you want or set your own rates, and in practice, that’s never going to work because you’re competing with a whole bunch of other comparably qualified professionals. So, there’s not only increasing downward pressure on wages, but there’s also pressure to accept jobs even when they’re forty miles away.

      Companies like CareRev and its competitors — ShiftMed, Trusted Health, Nomad Health, connectRN — are raising tens of millions of dollars in venture capital investment because they provide value to their customers. But their customers are not the health care workers who want to earn a living on their platforms. Their actual customers are for-profit hospitals desperate to cut labor costs.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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