The American Health Staffing Group (AHSG), headquartered in Edmond, was co-founded in 2010 by Mark Smith and Jerick Henley while sitting on a patio enjoying hot coffee and free Wifi at Panera Bread on 15th and Bryant. The two men first met in a Bible study group.
Smith and Henley discussed AHSG, one of this year’s Top Workplaces winners, with The Oklahoman:
Q: How would you describe what American Health Staffing Group (AHSG) does?
Smith: AHSG is a technology-driven, diversified, national health care staffing company with full workforce solutions offering. We have three basic divisions: staffing, technology and MSP (managed services provider). Our technology division is American Health Technology group. They have developed a VMS software platform called TRIO which controls all the workflow for health care institutions related to staffing, billing. We’ve got slightly over 300 internal employees.
Through the pandemic, hospitals spent a ton of money not only on internal staff but external labor. Our technology is most in demand now. Our technology empowers a hospital to look at everything under their roof on a single pane of glass.
Henley: We’ve got almost 2,000 clinicians under our care and control. They’re mostly nurses but would include allied professionals such as pharmacists, therapists, technicians, radiologists, speech pathologists. We supply to all 50 states, mostly in acute health settings (hospitals) but also to schools, home health and nursing homes. Less than 5% of the business comes from Oklahoma.
Since the pandemic ended, are you back up to “full speed”?
Smith: During the pandemic, we were able to pivot because our technology (already in place) allowed us to. We didn’t miss a beat. Was it easy? No. It was very difficult. We had to go from everyone working in an office to shutting the office down and everybody working remotely. There were some big obstacles, but we overcame them. Through COVID, the demand for our services went through the roof. But it also made us re-think how we do business.
Are you doing anything in particular to keep staff happy and motivated?
Henley: We’ve certainly had to be creative in compensation and more flexible. Also, we produce a weekly, live broadcast on a YouTube channel. It creates a community amongst a remote workforce. In every show, we give “shout outs” of support to one another. We inform, we entertain, people can log on and still feel part of a community.
How did the pandemic change how AHSG does business?
Smith: I’m a little old-school. I’m a guy who used to love what I called “butts in the seats.” People sitting at their desks and working. I was opposed to remote work. Now, I have completely changed my opinion on that and we offer in-office work or remote work. Whatever the employee wants to do.
Henley: Pre-COVID, less than 5% of our workforce (IT) was remote. Today, 50% of the workforce is remote. Talent acquisition remains difficult, but we’re finding talent in markets where we’ve never hired previously (San Diego and Omaha). We’re attracting people who would have never set foot inside our brick and mortar facility. It’s elevating our talent level. We’re attracting some of the top software developers in the country because it doesn’t matter where you reside. We’ve expanded from 12 (pre-COVID) tech employees to 52 today.
If you were to boast about your company’s culture, what would you say?
Henley: Our motto is, “to make a difference daily in the lives that we serve.” We take that very seriously. We place people in hospitals that affect patient outcomes. There’s a lot of intrinsic value in what we do.
Smith: We operate in a culture of grit and servant leadership, but the true heroes of the pandemic were our clinicians who were working on a daily basis in an incredibly stressful environment.
What’s the best leadership advice you were given?
Smith: Surround yourself with people that are more talented than you. Give them guidance and let them do their job and good things will happen.
What you need to know about American Health Staffing Group
AHSG’s first placement was a pharmacist who was needed on a day’s notice for only one day of work at a pharmacy in El Reno. AHSG distinguished itself during the pandemic for finding and dispatching travel nurses and other medical personnel to hospitals in desperate need throughout the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Software Industry Analyst (SIA) has cited AHSG for being one of the fastest growing and best staffing firms in the country, noting their placement of travel nurses and use of information technology. Self-funded at the start, AHSG is now owned by a private equity company, but both Mr. Smith and Mr. Henley share some ownership.