Inside INdiana Business

Startup targeting burnout, turnover in healthcare

(Provided Photo/IU Health)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — A new Indianapolis startup aims to improve workforce wellness among healthcare workers. vellum launched this week through a collaboration between High Alpha Innovation in Indy and Indiana University Health with the goal of using technology help hospitals and healthcare systems to reduce nurse turnover and burnout by building individual and team wellness.

“We are trying to help people build some some micro-habits with technology, do an emotional check-in, take time for personal reflection, and then sharing that with their team in an authentic way that will prompt them to then reach out and connect with each other,” said CEO John Larsen.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Larsen said IU Health approached High Alpha Innovation to try and solve a problem that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“We came to the realization that the solution was that human connection, and we looked for ways that we could enable them and really stimulate that need for connection and outreach,” Larsen said. “So as we did that, then we came to this solution that really helps them to do identification of their emotions and personal reflection that will then connect them with their teammates. As we tested the proposal, we reached out to many other nurses and nurse administrators across the country, and we just had a resounding ‘yes’ from all of them.”

IU Health provided an undisclosed pre-seed investment to get the startup off the ground. High Alpha Innovation is a spinoff of the High Alpha venture studio and partners with corporations and universities to fuel startup creation.

Larsen says vellum has begun pilot testing the platform in several IU Health hospitals throughout the state.

“That has also led to a lot of learning about how we can approach this, but a lot of very positive feedback about the impact this has on nurses and their teams,” he said. “So that’s been exciting, and IU Health has been a tremendous partner for us to be able to move quickly in doing that pilot testing.”

The pilot testing is being conducted through a paper-based version of the platform while an app is being developed to launch the program. Larsen says the company plans to launch the app in a beta phase within IU Health, but they’re looking for other beta testers.

“We’re looking for other health systems that are innovative and want to be involved in shaping the direction of this product. The involvement is both on the product side and on the people side. Obviously we’re trying to initiate a big behavior change in people, and so as much as what we do in the technology matters, it also matters how we deploy this on the people side and how people interact with it on their teams and in their organization.”

vellum currently has two employees in Larsen and Chief Product Officer Daria Byrne. The startup has an extended team comprised of members of High Alpha and outsourced developers to get the platform off the ground, though Larsen says there are plans to bring more official employees on board.

Larsen says vellum plans to begin fundraising in the next couple of months to further accelerate the development and deployment of the platform.

“The real mission of our organization is to help lift people and to make their lives more joyful, and to strengthen the bonds that they have with their teams. And so, we want people coming on board that share that vision with us and are passionate about getting out and quickly making a difference in the lives of these people who have sacrificed so much for us.”

While the initial focus of vellum is on nurses and the healthcare industry, Larsen says the platform could eventually be used in other verticals, such as education, military and first responders.