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Why We Invested in CalmWave

November 14, 2022

We are excited to announce that CalmWave has raised $4.0M in seed funding lead by Bonfire Ventures, A12, Tau Ventures and Daher.


If you’ve ever been admitted to a hospital and hooked up to a bunch of machines, then you know the number of [random] alarms that can go off at any given moment. As a patient, you’re probably unaware why an alarm is going off but watch along nervously as a nurse rushes in to decipher and correct the issue. Remarkably, most of those alarms are false positives. This type of common interruption causes something called alarm fatigue, an acknowledged and severe problem in hospitals worldwide. Not surprisingly, in 2021, 60% of nurses reported burnout.

Healthcare is in trouble. There is significant understaffing in hospitals and a high turnover of doctors and nurses due to fatigue. CalmWave is tackling this problem with an AI-powered retention solution that enables hospitals to better manage, keep and retain their nurses. At Bonfire, we were struck by the enormity of the issue and the opportunity to support and help build a company whose goal is to have a major impact on such a systemic problem.

What does CalmWave do?

CalmWave is building an AI-powered, enterprise-grade operations management platform for hospitals, with an initial focus around alarm fatigue.

The product will allow users to get a continuous window into two key indicators that are otherwise lost in a sea of false alarms: 1) patient acuity score and unified view of patient alarm patterns and 2) resulting workload on staff.

This new data will give chief nursing officer’s (CNO’s) and hospital managers a better way to monitor staff and manage their employee operations health.

By reducing the overall noise inside of hospital rooms, floors and wards, and providing data on which staff members might be struggling, CNO’s will be able to quickly identify issues and propose the proper actions to help. Potential customers are excited to use these metrics to drive better, more efficient staffing, informed decisions about level of care and discharging patients, adjustments to alarm thresholds to decrease false alarms, and more. 

Who are their customers?

Chief nursing officers, chief information officers, nurse managers, ICU and ED directors, professors of nursing, bedside nurses, emergency and ICU physicians.

What problem is the company solving?

A chief nursing officers’ #1 priority is retention. ICUs have recorded a critical alarm every 90 seconds finding that 85-99% of them are false positives, amounting to what one nurse described as an “anxiety-inducing wild goose chase”1. This cacophony of alarms leads to alarm fatigue and a desensitization to alarms, which can create unsafe patient environments (e.g., clinicians miss or delay response to alarms) and clinician burnout,

 "Alarm fatigue is the death of hospitals. Remediating it is the holy grail of what we're trying to get done here." - Spencer Schaefer, VA Hospital

Where did we hear about the company?

We were introduced to the deal by Brian Hale at Allen AI.

What’s their team like?

Ophir Ronen, CEO, is a multi-time founder and entrepreneur who has started companies before and is very well regarded. He co-founded Internap, and his last company was acquired by PagerDuty, where he stayed for five years and was instrumental in its growth. 

The team that makes up Calmwave - Keith Boudreau, Principal Developer, Justin Kearns, Data Scientist, Christian Bauer, UX Architect - were all working together at PagerDuty for many years before creating the company. 

Something very exciting about this team as a whole, is they came out of AI2, a unique incubator created by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, with the mission of creating world class, AI-first tech startups in service of the common good.

AI2 works with only 2-3 companies a year and provides the most cutting-edge research and methodologies across NLP, CV, and Deep Learning. AI2 it’s the type of incubator where you imagine every engineer and entrepreneur who comes through it is a complete superstar.

What's their Market Opportunity?

Alarm fatigue in healthcare settings has been well documented academically and came to the forefront of institutions in the past decade. As SaaS companies become more and more prominent, especially within the healthcare industry, hospital systems have become more accepting and accustomed to such products, making the market ripe. CalmWave capitalizes on the growing awareness of alarm fatigue and the increasing popularity of Saas products for hospital systems. Not only does CalmWave provide value on the faculty level by increasing staff retention, they are able to save large operational costs for hospitals as well. 

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