Care and treatment options for patients living with Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s are often fragmented and limited and many primary care physicians feel unprepared to meet increased patient demand.
Harmonic Health, a new digital health company, launched to bridge gaps in care by bringing together advanced technology and an expert care team to partner with PCPs, neurologists, healthcare systems and accountable care organizations.
Built at Redesign Health, a healthcare startup creator that builds tech-enabled healthcare businesses, Harmonic Health provides a variety of tech-enabled patient care and coordination services to help providers deliver comprehensive dementia care to their Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s patients. Founded in 2018, Redesign Health has built more than 50 companies from the ground up.
“I know from personal experience that the current situation for treating patients with neurodegenerative diseases is ineffective, unsupportive and deeply frustrating. Patients and caregivers lack support and physicians lack the resources to provide comprehensive care,” Gera said.
St. Louis-based Harmonic Health comprehensive care model is built upon a foundation of evidence-based medicine established at the University of California Los Angeles and UC San Francisco and applied to the broad community of patients and caregivers to facilitate their ability to remain in the comfort of their own homes while receiving comprehensive dementia care and caregiver support, according to the company.
"Our goals are to maximize patient function, independence and dignity, minimize caregiver strain and burnout and reduce fragmented care and avoidable costs," Gera said in an interview. "This foundation is expanded upon in Harmonic’s clinical care model by providing a tech-enabled care delivery system to maximize the person-to-person interaction between Harmonic’s staff and patients, caregivers, and physicians by addressing chronic and complex clinical needs and behavioral health support with a view of the social determinants impacting each individual. "
Gera previously served as CEO of Fusion5 where he launched a tech-enabled value-based care delivery platform in 41 states with 6,500 physicians.
As part of Harmonic’s model, patients and caregivers meet with Harmonic’s specially trained, multidisciplinary care team who comprehensively evaluate their disease progression, treatment plan and living conditions.
Based on their findings the Harmonic care team may provide updated recommendations in collaboration with their PCP. Care navigators provide proactive frequent check-ins with the patients and caregivers providing support, education, reinforcement of their care plan and early detection of changes in their conditions facilitating early intervention and prevention whenever possible, Gera said.
Harmonic’s team also provides complex care coordination, behavioral health services, education and evaluation of social determinants of health that may be negatively impacting their condition. All care is documented in the patient's medical record and is communicated promptly to the primary care or neurology team.
The digital health startup also announced a partnership with Stoney Batter Family Medicine, a family medical practice serving over 24,000 patients within the Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland region.
Through this partnership, Harmonic Health will pilot a program that provides physicians and their patients with dementia screening, patient education, referral for community services and caregiver support and coaching. Harmonic is seeing early program demand, with an 80% patient enrollment rate, the company said. Working with Stoney Batter Family Medicine, the company will gather actionable data and refine its solution to best serve physicians, patients and caregivers, Gera said.
Harmonic’s team consists of specially trained care navigators, social workers, consulting psychiatrists, registered nurse complex care managers, nurse practitioners and pharmacists who all contribute to Harmonic's comprehensive wraparound dementia care services.
“Harmonic Health serves to fill a serious unmet need for my patients with neurodegenerative disease and their families,” said Sarah Mullins, M.D., Stoney Batter Family Medicine physician and owner. "It complements my practice and alleviates stressors for the patient and their family, as well as for me and my team.”
The U.S. is grappling with an unseen challenge from patients and families impacted by Alzheimer's, dementia and Parkinson's, with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) emphasizing dementia care as a major priority.
Currently, Alzheimer’s and other dementias affect over 6.7 million Americans, costing $655 billion annually. Despite the growing prevalence of these conditions, care and treatment options remain limited and fragmented. Primary care physicians (PCPs) face significant challenges in providing care with over 75% of these patients managed by their PCPs, and 50% of PCPs feeling unprepared to meet increased patient demand, according to data from the Alzheimer’s Association.
Most primary care physicians don't have the time or resources to meet dementia patients' complex needs and often are challenged to provide time-intensive, specialized care.
At the same time, the care coordination and educational aspects fall on the burden of the patient and their caregiver.
"The challenges of managing health care, providing constant support and dealing with the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia can present a significant mental, physical, emotional and financial burden for caregivers," Gera said. "Another challenge associated with delivering comprehensive care for people living with dementia is that most dementia patients have multiple other chronic conditions along with their dementia. In recognition of this challenge Harmonic has invested in experienced complex care managers who monitor these conditions and coordinate the care to prevent care fragmentation."
Harmonic's specialized care team provides comprehensive support to patients, caregivers and physicians, managing not only cognitive decline but also behavioral and physical comorbidities. "Our process begins by working with the physicians and their staff to understand their clinical workflow, care pathways, and the culture of care they provide to their patients and families to best integrate into their practice," Gera told Fierce Healthcare. "Once integrated, we work in conjunction with the physicians and their office staff to identify patients with a neurodegenerative disease (NDD) diagnosis or symptom which could lead to an NDD diagnosis."
"Upon referral, care navigators assess disease severity, identify care obstacles, determine eligibility for new drugs or treatments, coordinate care and provide emotional support for patients and their caregivers. They also create comprehensive care plans, including specialist referrals when needed," Gera said.
Harmonic's patient and caregiver-facing app features a central patient portal to contact their care manager, appointment scheduling and tracking, symptom tracking and care plans.
The company also applies generative AI to augment the capabilities of its care teams, combined with advanced algorithms and data analytics to assess patient risk levels, identify undiagnosed or underdiagnosed disease severity and create comprehensive care plans aligned with physician protocols.
"This technology empowers them to focus on crucial care areas while the AI aids in aspects with minimal impact on medical decision-making. Our goal is to ensure human touchpoints are meaningful and irreplaceable, while repetitive tasks are seamlessly managed," Gera said. "We utilize AI to reduce or eliminate the administrative tasks for our clinical team so they can focus a vast majority of their time speaking with patients, families, and physicians. We envision our continued engagement of AI will be to augment and maximize person-to-person interactions."
Harmonic's initial focus is to help physicians support patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s in the community and home setting.
"We plan to continue to expand Harmonic’s model to additional provider practices and health systems in 35 to 40 states in the immediate future. We will evolve our clinical offerings as we gather more clinical learnings and data from our provider partnerships. Over time, we also see an opportunity to expand into risk-bearing entities (RBEs) and health plans to address a larger population," Gera said.