Editor’s note: Peer-to-Peer is a feature from McKnight’s Home Care Daily in which we talk to the leaders in home care, your peers, about their operational initiatives, efforts and ideas. If you think someone in home care would make a good subject for Peer-to-Peer, please email Diane Eastabrook at [email protected]

In January, ConcertoCare a tech-enabled, risk-based home healthcare provider, named Julian Harris, M.D., to lead the company into a post-COVID-19 landscape. 

Harris brings multifaceted leadership to an industry on the cusp of rapid growth,  technological change and opportunity. He’s a physician, a former insurance executive and a former policy wonk in the Obama White House.

ConcertoCare offers three products in six states across the U.S. Two products provide in-home care supported by a team of clinicians, including pharmacists, behaviorists, social workers and home health aides. The third is a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Telehealth supports all three.

Harris spoke to McKnight’s Home Care Daily about the company’s unique position in the market and where it sees the home healthcare industry headed. (Note: This interview has been slightly edited.)

McKnight’s Home Care Daily: ConcertoCare has a unique business model as a technology-driven home healthcare company. How does that influence patient care?

Julian Harris, M.D.

Julian Harris: There are some companies that might give some people the impression that for this very complex population, technology is replacing rather than enhancing work that we can do with human beings on the ground in the home. While there is a key role for technology in the work that we do or the patient population that we serve, we believe that having an intensive in-home model is key to helping these patients maintain their health and wellness and their independence. We have a combination of very deep, clinical geriatrics expertise across product types, from home-based primary care to PACE, which is really consistent with the work that we do. But we also have this deep expertise around data analytics and mental health. 

McKnight’s Home Care Daily: From a policy perspective, should there be a further expansion of telehealth in a post-COVID environment?

Julian Harris: One of the things that I appreciate about government at its best is its ability to be nimble and responsive to moments of technological disruption. COVID drove quite a bit of disruption across the healthcare ecosystem. Telehealth adoption was moving at a particular pace, but what COVID did was accelerate provider comfort with telehealth. We’ve learned about which categories of providers can conduct telehealth visits and think flexibly about how to leverage providers across state lines. There are ways to think flexibly about the technology platforms that we use, all while ensuring that we have the right kind of protections in place for patients. I hope that we build on that foundation and find other ways to make sure we are expanding that access to care by leveraging telehealth, particularly in areas where we still have gaps. 

McKnight’s Home Care Daily: ConcertoCare focuses heavily on the social aspects of health. Why is that so important?

Julian Harris:  Expanding our notion of health to include the social determinants of health has been a core motivator for me throughout my career. When I practiced, I worked in a community health center where every day I was taking care of patients who had challenges with access to food, housing, transportation and economic opportunity. I am very passionate about ensuring that we think about patients holistically. That set of social determinants of health, I think, has gained much greater currency. But I think we need to take more time to recognize that loneliness and isolation are also key social determinants of health. In some ways, COVID brought greater focus to this as a challenge, but in practice for seniors, it isn’t a new phenomenon. We spend a lot of time thinking about how we engage our patients, increasingly how we find opportunities for them socially, whether that be virtually or in person. We will collectively have to think about ways that we can bridge the generational divide and find opportunities for seniors to engage  with people across generations and to engage with each other.

McKnight’s Home Care Daily: You offer PACE, and there’s been a lot of talk about growing it through Biden’s plan to develop home-and-community based services. Do you think there will be an expansion of PACE?

Julian Harris: I do think we’re going to have significant growth in PACE in the years ahead.  I think we’re actually going to see people leveraging some of the insights of PACE to think about new care models for patients who aren’t PACE-eligible. I think there are elements of the PACE model that Medicare Advantage plans could have the flexibility to implement on their own. That’s part of what is exciting about his moment. In some ways there is the opportunity with the CMS contracting model for providers to think creatively about care models and invest in care models that they may not have been able to do historically. There is also the opportunity to leverage some of the insights from PACE to think about what’s really best for patients in a way that is challenging in a deeper service construct today.