Led by experts in concussion management and data science, Chapel Hill-based Heads Together Health (HTH) offers a solution to understanding and treating concussions faster and more efficiently for both patients and clinicians.
Concussions are a complex problem and treating them is even harder. At least 30% of patients have persistent concussion symptoms, which means that specific symptoms last beyond one month. These can lead to challenges across eight clinical domains: headaches, neck pain, vision, balance, behavioral, cognitive, physiologic and sleep issues—all of which can lead to not only medical burdens for the patient and their families, but also cost burdens for the payers.
According to CEO Steve Devrieze, in many care settings, concussion treatment plans are simple and consistent. Most people are told to rest or avoid strenuous activity.
But for specific persistent concussion symptoms, getting rest is not a simple answer. There are currently no technology solutions that provide insight based on the complexity of a specific condition, causing a gap in personalized treatment plans and recovery data.
With a family history of Alzheimer’s and his own daughter suffering from a past concussion, Devrieze is no stranger to the effects of mistreated neurologic conditions. That’s why he came aboard as CEO, joining the co-founding team of Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) Dr. Kevin Carneiro and Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) Anthony Volpe to develop the HTH platform to help patients achieve a faster and more sustained recovery.
“I think the reason why there isn’t something already like [HTH] is because concussions were getting missed and looked over,” Devrieze said. “As a community, we’ve done a great job over the years to diagnose or assess the severity of a concussion, but we’re not so great with treatment and recovery.”
The platform is broken down into a clinician web portal and patient mobile app. With the web portal, clinicians can input and access previous and present patient information and any diagnostics. Sports clinics would already have recorded baseline information for athletes but for others, patients would go into a clinic and test their acute injury information.
HTH can track 35 symptoms with a standardized 0-6 rating for concussions to understand the burden of their symptoms soon after their injury. Clinicians then have access to an array of physical exams and clinical tests that they can administer to understand the severity and the assessment of the domains relevant for the patient. HTH then offers a treatment plan section where the clinician can determine medications, exercise activities, specialist referrals and restrictions.
For patients who are treated at a clinic that is using HTH, they get access to the mobile app so that during their recovery in between visits to the clinic, they can find their treatment plan on the app with instructions of the treatment activities that they’re intended to follow. Users can also report their completion of those treatments and then clinicians can ask them to record their symptom burden.
HTH completed its proof of concept with UNC-CH Sports Medicine in 2022 and now its SaaS-based platform is in progress to be implemented in several concussion clinics, including at UNC Health and Duke Health. They’ve also deployed at research centers to offer key insights and data toward improving the future of concussion management.
The startup submitted patent applications earlier this year that would cover the data capture methodology through the clinician web portal and the app. The patents would also cover what HTH hopes to implement later: AI insights that would predict and provide treatment recommendations based on patient data and recovery timeline.
“We are dedicated to making a big impact in improving care and concussion,” DeVrieze said. “At the right time and with the right clinical, financial and strategic analyses, we can expand into other neurological conditions and impact as many patients as we can.”