When it comes to saving lives, knowledge can be the difference between life and death. Medical professionals need access to the most up-to-date practices and information as they treat patients. The COVID-19 pandemic has made that fact startlingly clear.
Elemeno Health is ready to help. The company’s medical information platform provides diverse procedural information to doctors and nurses in real time. We reached out to co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Arup Roy-Burman to learn the inspiration behind the company and how it can make a difference.
Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?
Elemeno Health is a team-based, business-to-business software-as-a-service that empowers nurses, doctors, and staff at the point of care. We help healthcare systems transform best practices into custom, bite-sized training and communication, and we deliver it to the fingertips of frontline staff, anytime, anywhere, on any device. This drives consistency of practice at the bedside, improving patient safety and outcomes at scale, while lowering costs (20 times return on investment). Simple to start, no IT required!
What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?
For more than 20 years, I’ve led critical care teams at UCSF, Stanford, Children’s Oakland, and Kaiser — all top tier institutions. In each, I have seen patients die from preventable mistakes — mistakes made by hard-working, well-educated, and well-intentioned staff who simply could not find the support they needed when they needed it most. At the same time, I saw the rise of consumer technology — tech that made users more efficient, more effective, better connected, better informed. We asked why such benefits could not also be delivered to frontline staff in healthcare, where the stakes are so much higher. The industry was not doing this, so we — doctors and nurses — created it ourselves. With early results showing increased staff engagement and decreased medical errors, we felt that this was an innovation too important not to scale. Hence, we took our prototype through UCSF’s Entrepreneur Center and Y Combinator, and Elemeno was born.
What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?
20 years of clinical practice leading ICU teams in top-tier institutions. I quickly understood that quality healthcare is a team effort — doctors, nurses, therapists and more, all working together. Over these 20 years, I took all of my call shifts — days, nights, weekends, holidays — in the hospital, thereby developing a deep empathy for the work demands and paucity of support for our frontline teams. I am the former president of the critical care practice serving Children’s Hospital Oakland, the regional pediatric trauma center lead. I am also the former ICU medical director at UCSF Children’s. I personally felt and observed the pains of inaccessibility to key information and then, even when found, the density and indigestibility of the information itself. Nurses and staff constantly wanted to see (rather than read) how procedures were to be done — instant access to short video and images would be key. While working full-time at UCSF, I developed the Elemeno prototype through a partnership with Salesforce. Those learnings provided the foundation for our current offering of Elemeno built on AWS.
What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?
In the post-COVID new normal, healthcare systems understand more than ever the need for a simple and readily updatable, asynchronous, and distanced team communication and training solution. COVID has also helped them realize the critical value of collaboration between healthcare systems — sharing operationalized (“Elemenoized”) best practices with one another. Learning from each other rather than reinventing the wheel — strength in numbers.
We have a global vision to be the go-to network for best practices worldwide. We aim to democratize access to best practices, radically reduce medical errors, and enable every healthcare professional to provide the best care possible to every life they touch.
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
We are doctors and nurses. Carole Klove RN JD is our chief nursing officer. She is the former chief compliance and privacy officer at Stanford and UCLA. Carole worked with me on the Elemeno prototype at UCSF and then joined Elemeno after early retirement.
VP of Engineering Steve Mundro (Games Show Network Games) and co-founder Ed Nanale (Electronic Arts) come from the world of gaming, relentlessly focused on the user experience and building for scale to serve millions. Ed and I first connected through mutual friends while I was still at UCSF. We vetted the idea for Elemeno through UCSF’s Entrepreneurship Center’s Startup 101 program. VP of Product Lisa Crounse drives product vision while championing the delivery of impactful customer experiences. Over 16 years at Autodesk, she led development and launch of multiple product lines, including digital collaboration tools, user communities and learning systems.
COO Scott Cohen has had two successful healthcare exits: Healtheon/WebMD and Athenahealth. He joined Athenahealth as employee #210 and their fourth VP. He helped lead them to 6,000 employees and more than $1 billion in revenue. Scott did not need a new job — but he knew through his Athenahealth experience what healthcare needed. Scott met us through an investor, started advising us for free, and then came on to lead client success, soon rising to COO. VP of Client & Growth Vicki Watts learned of Elemeno through Athenahealth alumni. Vicki brings 20 years experience in leading and scaling client success, growth and sales operations teams, including at industry giant McKesson and at start-up Incredible Health. RVP Sales Sandra Frykman is a former operating room nurse with more than 20 years experience in healthcare tech and services sales. Sandra joined because she immediately saw how Elemeno would have helped her as a nurse — and how well she fit with the culture of our team.
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
Direct competitors: Analog processes (binders, fliers, posters, in-person staff meetings) and first-generation digital solutions (mass emails, Sharepoint, Dropbox). We empower team managers with a readily customizable solution to transform content into bite-size digestible and searchable learning and then disseminate it in an easily retrievable and trackable manner.
Indirect competitors: Learning management systems (e.g., Healthstream, Cornerstone) and best practice publishers (e.g., Lippincott, Elsevier, EBSCO). Those top-down solutions are designed for institutional regulatory and compliance (checking the box to show someone has viewed a digitized training). They are also necessarily generic — they must cater to everyone. Hence, they focus on the “why” and the “what.” Elemeno recognizes that Healthcare is local. It is delivered in each hospital, and each department. We are a bottom-up solution empowering team leaders to deliver not just the “what,” but importantly the “how”– with your devices, your workflows, your patients. We give each department a playbook in their pocket with the plays relevant to their team, as curated by their team leader.
What does your business model look like?
Business-to-business software-as-a-service. Land and expand model. Monthly subscription priced for either high-complexity team/unit (e.g., ICU, OR, ED, L&D) or standard complexity unit (e.g., general medical ward). Unlimited users and content for each unit/team. We provide a dedicated client success manager for each team, ensuring return on investment and cultivating internal relationships for expansion to other units/teams. Subscriptions are typically paid as a single annual payment upfront.
What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
Our frontline users. Nurses, therapists, and doctors using Elemeno asked us about the opportunity to invest. I then met Republic through Jason Calacanis. We saw the crowd raise as an opportunity to not only raise capital, but to also demonstrate market appeal — nearly 4,000 healthcare workers and patients ultimately invested last year. Given the increase in Regulation Crowdfunding raise maximums this year, we elected to open a new campaign this summer and also open up to an expanded investor base through Start Engine.
Funds from the current raise include specific targets in sales and marketing and product/development.
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
We are a mission-driven business driving a double bottom line. All members of our team firmly believe that the best technologies are those that make the world a better place. And we all understand that industry and profit drive the fastest growth.
Community is our secret sauce. It’s the network effect — clients sharing Elemenoized best practices with each other, learning from one another rather than reinventing the wheel. We are the first mover in this space — and as the shared library grows, so does both our barrier to entry and our barrier to churn.
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for the company?
We anticipate exit within this time period. We are currently focused on the US market. As we scale, we will then move to international English-based markets (e.g., Canada, UK) where we already have interest, and then on to non-English speaking countries (where shared video and image content will be valuable as is, especially through immediately available mobile devices). Exit through acquisition is much more likely than IPO. However, we are not targeting a specific acquisition. Rather, our focus is on building a great business, knowing that the suitors will come. Strategic market channels include malpractice insurers, learning management systems, medical device companies, electronic healthcare record companies, and best practice publishers. We have already been in discussions with each of these channels. And since there are multiple companies within each channel, there can be a large number of candidate companies in competition for acquisition/exit.
We look forward to seeing where Arup and his team take the company. Elemeno Health is currently raising on StartEngine.