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INNOVATION BEAT

Can this app help solve COVID burnout?

Ted Jeanloz, the chief executive of ConnectRN.Elizabeth LaDuca

Across the country, as COVID-19 cases surge once again, America’s nurses are beyond burned out. In response, a Waltham-based software app has one message: It can help.

With the pandemic approaching its third year, a never-ending wave of variants continues to cause hospitals to fill up. It is no surprise that upwards of 66 percent of nurses in the country say they are thinking of leaving. Many are quitting, and others are branching out on their own.

ConnectRN, which helps nurses pick up shifts and commiserate with other health care workers through its app, feels it can give nurses control of their lives again. The startup hopes nurses and aides will benefit from the sense of community, and pick up part-time shifts through the staffing app, giving them income and a schedule that’s more agreeable. Company officials hope this can help stem the tide of nurses leaving the industry altogether.

“We’re at a stage right now where we need all hands on deck from a clinical perspective,” Ted Jeanloz, the chief executive of ConnectRN, said in an interview. “Anything we can do to keep nurses active and engaged and loving their jobs is something that we we need to do if we’re going to get through this.”

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Founded in 2014, the company started as a way for nurses and aides to find extra shifts in their facilities. By 2017, it pivoted, allowing health care workers to sign up for shifts in other places. Currently, around 75,000 nurses and health aides are on the platform, Jeanloz said. Once logged on, they can find last-minute shifts in around 1,000 post-acute facilities and some hospitals. To make money, the company charges the health care facility roughly 10 to 15 percent of the nurse’s pay rate for those shifts, Jeanloz said. (For example, if a nurse or aide is hired for $45 to $50 per hour, ConnectRN will charge the facility around $60 per hour, keeping what’s left after paying employment fees like taxes and insurance, Jeanloz said.)

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Additionally, the company provides space for nurses to talk with each other. In October, the company announced a partnership with TalkSpace, a provider of online therapy, to give nurses an opportunity to discuss mental health concerns.

Earlier this month, ConnectRN raised $76 million in new funding, after a $13 million round in April. The company’s revenue has grown 240 percent year-over-year, and it estimates it will make roughly $100 million in revenue this year. It plans to expand its over-100 person workforce to around 300 in the next year, he added. (Jeanloz and the company’s chief operating officer, Maddie Thoms, are alumni of Athenahealth, the Watertown healthcare technology firm that will be acquired for $17 billion.)

Jen Reddy, the company’s chief marketing officer, said in an October post that ConnectRN is made for the moment because it provides America’s nursing corps — overworked, burned out, and coping with high levels of death — a way to stay in the profession on their own terms. As America honors nurses and aides, she said, ConnectRN is made to reflect the reality of being a frontline health care worker.

“America’s nursing community are ordinary people doing extraordinary things, with real emotions and needs,” she said. “Nurses aren’t heroes. They’re humans.”