In-House Health nabs $4M to build out AI-enabled scheduling platform for nursing teams

Almost every hospital and health system currently struggles with a growing workforce shortage and rising costs to deliver care. Agencies have stepped in to fill the gap, often resulting in unprecedented margin pressure from nursing.

A new startup, In-House Health, aims to tackle inefficiencies in hospital staff management through a technology-based approach. The startup, based in Denver, developed an artificial intelligence-driven scheduling and management platform for modern nursing teams.

The company, officially launching during National Nurses Week, recently raised $4 million in seed funding led by NEA and TMV, with participation from pre-seed investors Vine Ventures and Longevity Venture Partners. The startup has raised a total of $5.4 million to date.

In-House Health was built by three co-founders with combined experience in healthcare operations as well as frontline nursing and informatics and tech expertise.

Ari Brenner previously was the co-founder and COO of Stellar Health, a healthcare technology company that works with payers and health systems to manage their value-based activities. Sergey Vasilenko was a former critical care nurse who later transitioned to EMR/clinical informatics. Shachar Har Zvi joined from Google, where he was a technical lead.

Nurse staffing and scheduling is typically a manual, time-consuming process that often ineffectively distributes an increasingly strained workforce. Nurse team leaders spend more than 15 hours a week managing shift schedules, buried in repetitive drag-and-drop screens, or even pen, paper and whiteboards, according to Brenner.

While many hospitals typically employ thousands of employees, they often operate as regional silos.

"Some days, certain units are overstaffed and send people home, other days, they have the opposite," Brenner said in an exclusive interview about the company's launch and seed funding. "They are faced with unpredictable demand and challenges managing their employees, while constantly playing catch-up in response to changing circumstances."

"Hospitals are scrambling to figure this out on their own as they recognize the inefficiencies and are working on homegrown projects around flexible staffing," Brenner added. "What is better, homegrowning your way out of these problems or a scaled tech solution that has access to many datasets from different care settings and can aggregate best practices about what actually addresses the problem? And this benefits from purpose-built technology. Hospitals are solving so many other problems, around clinical care, problems only they can solve. I think the high-level, operational tech is something that they could benefit from getting from a specialized provider."

In-House Health works closely with hospitals and providers to streamline staffing workflows. In-House’s AI algorithm is trained on millions of patient records to identify patterns of bedside care and anticipate shift changes weeks earlier than is normally possible, according to the company.

The startup uses predictive analytics and automatic scheduling tools to guide nurse leaders, and the company boasts that the technology can improve the team experience at the bedside as well as patient safety and financial outcomes.

The company's technology can shorten hours spent on scheduling by half or more and reduce labor costs by 10% by building better work shifts.

The technology can save nurse managers more than 5 hours per week typically spent on managing shift schedules, Brenner said.

“Saving manager time on scheduling is a huge win and relieves burnout among nursing leaders, but the real prize is improved staffing outcomes,” Brenner said. “When hospitals fail to properly predict the future, it costs money in overtime pay and agency use. We can reduce both through precision staffing.”

In-House Health's system currently delivers scheduling and clinical insights to help manage more than 800 nurses.

"We're live in several hospitals today and we've shown that the technology is easy to adopt for these unit managers," Brenner said.

Venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA) has experience investing in the healthcare staffing market. In-House Health's focus on cutting reliance on third-party agencies and offering real-time clinical demand prediction is unique, according to Blake Wu, partner at NEA.

"We’re at a unique point in time in our healthcare system – the pandemic has subsided, but the stresses that it imparted on our delivery infrastructure are likely permanent in nature, one of which is the impact on the hospital nurse employment market," Wu told Fierce Healthcare via email. "In-House is unique in that they’ve built an advanced technology platform to utilize and optimize existing resources, whereas many other companies are attempting to build yet another staffing agency. In-House’s platform is one of the few that satisfies the quadruple aim of healthcare – it lowers the cost of care, it improves the care team and the patient experience, and it will eventually lead to better outcomes for our entire system."

James Kerridge, associate chief nurse at the Chicago VA Medical Center and board member with the Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders, joined In-House’s nursing advisory board more than a year ago to help shape its product and clinical strategy.

“In-House’s platform makes it easy for hospitals to schedule adaptively. This unlocks control over schedule and flexibility that is now critical to keep nurses satisfied and reduce burnout associated with last-minute changes,” Kerridge said.