• World Biz Magazine

BRIAN HARRIS CEO OF MEDRHYTHMS - INTERVIEW WITH WBM TOP 100 INNOVATION CEO



BRIAN HARRIS, CEO OF THE USA'S MEDRHYTHMS HAS BEEN SELECTED BY THE JUDGES OF WORLD BIZ MAGAZINE'S ANNUAL AWARDS TO BE A RECIPIENT OF THE TOP 100 CEOS IN INNOVATION AWARD 2021. THIS SELECTION FOLLOWS A STRINGENT PROCESS THAT EVALUATED OVER 40,000 NOMINEES TO SELECT THE EXCLUSIVE LIST OF 100 WINNERS.


Brian Harris is a passionate and motivated leader and entrepreneur who strives to make the world a better place by helping others. Brian discovered his love for music and the brain in college and was inspired to receive his master's in Music Therapy. He has since gone on to become a Board-Certified Music Therapist with a specialization in Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) and one of 350 individuals in the world with advanced training in this clinical application of the neuroscience of music.


Brian is a founding member of the Arts and Neuroscience Group at the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, which provides a platform for clinicians, researchers, and artists to advocate and collaborate on topics related to the clinical application of the arts in neurorehabilitation. In 2015, Brian founded MedRhythms’ clinical division at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, the No. 2 rehabilitation hospital in the country, according to the U.S. News & World Report, in Boston, Massachusetts and built this program to be the most comprehensive program of its kind in the country. Under Brian’s leadership, MedRhythms pivoted to digitize this therapy in a scalable, digital therapeutics system that could be used in the comfort of patients’ homes without the need for a Neurologic Music Therapist. MedRhythms is now dedicated to building scalable solutions that use prescription music to provide people across the world suffering from the effects of neuro-logic injury or disease with the care that they desperately need and deserve.


Share with us some of the major recent achievements by MedRhythms.

In 2020, MedRhythms received FDA Breakthrough Device designation for our chronic stroke digital therapeutic that is currently being studied in a multi-site randomized controlled pivotal trial at the nation's top rehabilitation hospitals and research centers.


In May 2021, we partnered with Massachusetts General Hospital on a neuroimaging study of MedRhythms' digital therapeutic for walking impairments caused by multiple sclerosis. This is the first neuroimaging study to evaluate the impacts of Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation, the music therapy intervention that we are digitizing, on multiple sclerosis walking deficits.


In April 2021, we announced the initiation of a clinical trial with Boston University and a world leading hospital for our digital therapeutic designed for walking impairments caused by Parkinson's disease. We also expanded our pipeline in 2021 into acute stroke and aging to study the impact of our acute stroke device on walking outcomes and establishing the company's Aging Scientific Advisory Board with the world's top experts on aging.


In 2020, a MedRhythms study was published in the Journal of Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, one of the leading journals in neuroscience. This research article examined the positive outcomes of our feasibility study results, which showed improvements with no reported trips or falls and a 70% response from patients indicating they would use the device most or all of the time at home. We also solidified several meaningful partnerships in 2021.


This past May, EVERSANA, the leading provider of global commercialization services to the life sciences industry, and MedRhythms announced our collaboration to launch the chronic stroke patented software-based medical device. Additionally, we partnered with The Roux Institute at Northeastern, established in Portland, Maine, where we are headquartered. We are always looking for intelligent and innovative students who want to help make a difference. This partnership has allowed us to be a part of a tight-knit community and offer meaningful co-op positions to students who wish to work with an innovative, mission-driven company.


MedRhythms is a pioneer in digital therapeutics. Share some insight into the the potential for patients.

As a start-up pioneering the new, disruptive field of digital therapeutics as well as developing a new mechanism of action using music, we are dedicated to developing innovative, cutting-edge products that address a high unmet need in healthcare. We are building a pipeline of prescription digital therapeutics that use sensors, music, and software to improve walking impairments caused by neurologic injuries and diseases, including stroke, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. The first product in this pipeline is a novel software-based medical device for chronic stroke survivors with walking deficits.


Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the United States, but there is no standard of care for chronic stroke walking deficits. In the last year, we were granted Breakthrough Device designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for our chronic stroke walking digital therapeutic. In granting this designation, the FDA recognizes the novelty of MedRhythms’ device and its potential to treat life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating diseases or conditions. This digital therapeutic has the potential to provide chronic stroke survivors who suffer from persistent walking deficits with a standard of care that they deserve.


What are the advantages of MedRhythms' digital therapeutic when compared to other options on the market and how are you responding to customer trends?

MedRhythms’ digital therapeutic stands out in the market because it provides patients with improved outcomes, it’s engaging, and it’s accessible. Patients value that MedRhythms is developing a solution for walking impairments that will meet a significant unmet need across multiple neurologic injury and disease populations. The first population that MedRhythms is focused on treating is the chronic stroke survivor population, which currently has no treatment solution for the population’s widespread walking deficits. The result is that stroke survivors with mobility impairments have routinely been discharged from the hospital with little hope about the future of their health. Our’ digital therapeutic will provide these patients with a non pharmacological, personalized intervention that improves walking outcomes, independence, and overall quality of life.


Moreover, since our products use prescription music, this makes them inherently enjoyable and engaging. As a digital therapeutic that does not require the presence of a clinician, patients will be able to use the device according to their own schedule and in the comfort of their home. This will enable swaths of the patient population that did not previously have access to neurologic music therapy services to benefit from this treatment.


Share with us some details about MedRhythms' initiatives in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility.

As a company headquartered in Portland, Maine, we are always looking for opportunities to get involved in the local community and contribute to the education of its students.

I and Owen McCarthy, President and Co-Founder of MedRhythms, frequently work with local organizations and schools to share our experiences in entrepreneurship with the younger generation. Despite the obstacles to engaging with the community in 2020, I delivered a virtual presentation for the Portland Public Schools STEM Expo. We wrote an inspiring letter to a second-grade class at Portland Elementary School to help them feel excited and motivated about the school year. We are always open to opportunities to educate and inspire others to pursue a future in entrepreneurship and follow their dreams.


The digital therapeutics industry has the potential to revolutionize healthcare by developing cutting-edge technology solutions to meet high unmet patient needs regardless of where the patients live.

Share some insight into the potential of the digital therapeutics industry and how it can be improved.

The digital therapeutics industry has the potential to revolutionize healthcare by developing cutting-edge technology solutions to meet high un-met patient needs regardless of where the patients live. A critical issue in healthcare that digital therapeutics address is the glaring disparity between the quality of care and access to care in rural and non-rural areas. Digital therapeutics provide a promising solution to these problems. One of the most significant advantages of digital therapeutics is the accessibility of using the device anywhere the patient desires. This makes it easy for patients to engage in life-changing therapy without having to leave the comfort of their homes.


While the digital therapeutics industry is making enormous strides to improve the problems in healthcare, we believe that patients need to have more of a voice in these organizations when it comes to the development and decision-making of products that are ultimately being designed for patients and that require the patient’s trust. Digital therapeutics companies need to treat patients as key stakeholders and give them a seat. This can be done in a multitude of ways at every stage in the life of a company, and MedRhythms has evolved as a company with the patient at the heart of every significant decision and milestone. Additionally, we have employed several strategies to ensure that the voices of the patients we serve always impact the work we do.


In 2020, we developed a Patient Advisory Board with representation from all of the patient populations that the company operates. This group of advisors meets with me and other employees multiple times every year to receive updates on the company’s progress and provide the company leadership with feedback on each pipeline product. Our product department also ensures that products are developed with patient-centered design practices. This means that, with every iteration of the device, a new sample of patients is given the product and the chance to provide our product design team with feedback that is always implemented in the R&D process.


What values are needed in good leadership?

We have built a mission-driven company that seeks to transform the future of medicine. We demonstrate the tenets of good leadership by example; we orient the company around its mission and ensure that it is people-focused by ensuring that employees feel valued, energized, and like they're contributing to society in a positive way. We believe that good leaders execute and navigate their team through difficult situations by being completely transparent and honest and keeping a confident and positive attitude toward the company's future. We put the well-being of our employees first and have built a relationship with every member of the team, even as it has continued to grow.


We recognize that solid relationships ensure trust throughout the company, creating an inclusive and collaborative work environment. Furthermore, we acknowledge when we make mistakes or when we are wrong. We are the first to accept, move on, and learn from our experiences in a way that signals to employees that handling a mistake with grace is more important than making one.


For more information: www.medrhythms.com