Music Therapy as an Entrepreneurial Start-Up in Healthcare

I love quirky entrepreneurs.  Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Sean Parker, Sara Blakely (the youngest self-made female billionaire EVER and graduate of The Florida State University...just sayin').  They may be a bit rough around the edges, perhaps a bit blunt, but I just really dig the confident, risk taking, go big/fail big attitude.  I can accept some of the less desirable personality traits, just because I love reading their stories so much.  I'm drawn to it.

Start-ups and small businesses frequently talk about being "agile," meaning they have a unique ability to quickly change directions and adapt their models to changing times, a luxury that many large businesses don't usually have.  They have too much invested in a certain environment, or too much bureaucracy.  Today, all industries are changing, and fast.  Those that are able to embrace that change and harness it set themselves up for success.

This got me thinking about music therapy.  Now this may seem counterintuitive, but stay with me.  I got to thinking about music therapy as a start-up.  A newcomer busting into the healthcare scene and flipping it on its head.  The kind of quirky new face that makes the establishment raise an eyebrow and say "What on Earth are these guys up to?"

Now of course, music therapy isn't new.  It's been an established field since the end of World War II.  Nor is what we do that whacky.  It's rather intuitive, actually.  All we've done is standardize and research what people have been doing for thousands of years: used music to positively effect non-music outcomes.

But despite all that what we do is, admittedly, outside the box.  We walk into hospitals with guitars and jingling, clanging canvas bags full of colorful instruments.  We turn heads.

Not to mention, we are a tiny field in comparison to our allied health partners.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are 123,200 speech language pathologists in the U.S.  There are 198,600 physical therapists.  108,800 occupational therapists.  I won't even get into the number of nurses, physicians, and the rest of the healthcare field.  Music therapists?  Well, as of this writing, the U.S. Department of Labor doesn't track music therapy individually as a field (though that is changing soon!).  We're grouped with recreational therapists (which, with respect to recreational therapists, who have very important jobs, I take issue with.  But that's a whole other blog post).  But just using those numbers, there are 22,400 recreational therapists in the U.S.  As you can imagine, music therapists make up a small portion of this already small demographic.

We want to get those numbers up.  No doubt.  But here's what I'm getting at: Music therapy is AGILE!

We're the out-of-the-box start-up that's challenging the way things are done.  Most importantly of all, we're adapting to the changing times!

Those who follow the healthcare industry know that there are monumental shifts taking place right now.  Healthcare is leading all industries in job growth.  Most exciting of all, healthcare is seeing a shift in focus.  Recent years have seen a renewed importance of patient satisfaction and patient-centered care.

Long gone are the days of cold physicians with no bedside manner barking orders at patients.  That simply isn't going to fly anymore.  People now have more choices than ever when it comes to their care, and they're choosing providers that treat them with the most care and compassion.  They're choosing team-based approaches.  They're choosing the hospitals with an out-of-the-box approach.  Hospitals know that, and they're responding to it.  How many billboards, radio ads, and twitter accounts for healthcare facilities do you now see spouting their short wait times, compassionate care, state-of-the-art facilities and amenities, all centered around YOU, the patient?  I see it all the time.

If you're a music therapist, this should excite you.  This should THRILL you!  Why?  Because music therapy has been shown to positively effect patient satisfaction levels with their general care (I'd love to link this one, I promise, but last I checked it's still in-press!  Soon, readers, soon).  Music therapy is precisely one of those unique, patient-centered approaches that healthcare facilities today would LOVE to advertise as a service their facility offers that others don't.

We're riding the wave, and it could not have come at a more perfect time.  It's getting to a point where we don't have to walk into a healthcare administrator's office and explain what we do and beg for an opportunity to offer our services.  They're seeking us out!  They know what we do, and they want it.  And that's awesome.

The healthcare field is changing.  Perhaps faster than any other industry outside of technology (though some super exciting stuff is happening in healthcare technology!).  Music therapy is the kind of field that is agile enough to play a big part in that.  Music therapy is the field that takes an unconventional approach to some of the most pressing issues in healthcare today.  We're the not-so-new newcomers bursting on stage and offering a irresistible service.  Ride the wave, baby.

Ready to jump on that wave and get music therapy services at YOUR healthcare facility?  The George Center is ready to provide you with out-of-this-world music therapy services that will set you apart from all the others!  Get started today with our free consultation, and let's talk about how we can transform care for your patients TODAY.

Andrew Littlefield MM, MT-BC

The George Center , 12060 Etris Road, Roswell, GA, 30075