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Useful: Enurgi marketplace for home-care providers

A new directory of nurses and other health-care providers has a solid business model behind it.

If you're involved at all in organizing the home care of a person who's recuperating from an injury or serious illness, is elderly and ailing, or for some other reason requires frequent visits from nurses or therapists, keep an eye on Enurgi, a health-care marketplace that just launched.

Patients and clients can manage their caregivers.

You can find caregivers on the site, book them for home care, rate their job performance, and manage their payment via Paypal. The service helps you keep a calendar so you can easily tell who's coming over and when, and quickly fill in gaps you may have in your coverage.

Unlike many other service directories, Enurgi starts with a fairly complete database of providers. The registration records for nurses certified to deliver home care are public and recorded at the state level, and the company has incorporated all 50 states' data into its catalog of providers. Practitioners do have to "claim" their entry, though, before they can connect with patients and collect payments.

The service is free right now, but in 2008, the company will take a percentage of revenues paid to service providers: 6 or 7 percent, founder Chiara Bell told me. Bell compares this to the much larger percentage skimmed by traditional agencies who connect caregivers and patients. Bell also points out that with Enurgi, patients can pick their caregivers and select the best blend of skills for their situation, instead of just taking the first match proposed by the agency. Likewise, caregivers can be more selective about accepting gigs that fit their commuting and work preferences.

Caregivers get their own interface, to manage schedules and clients.

Enurgi is a smart business not just because the data to build it is available, and not just because the fees that the company will charge are substantial yet still undercut the established middlemen in this market. It's also smart because sales efforts for the service can be highly leveraged: If Bell can get some hospitals, corporate HR departments, or associations centered on particular ailments (such as dementia) onboard, she'll easily be able to generate revenue, probably enough to turn a profit.

Future plans for the site include management of insurance billing, paying employment taxes, and keeping track of flexible spending account data.

Related: We're previously looked at CareSquare, which does the same thing, but for childcare. It's a theoretically useful service but much harder to make into a business since there's no database of providers and no powerful organizations supporting them. See also: Care.com, Gonannies.com, and Sittercity.com.