Round Up, August 12th

Welcome to the new week, readers! This week, we'll celebrate the one year anniversary of The George Center Blog! But we've got a Round Up to get to, and there are some great music therapy stories in the news this week. Let's get to it!

How Music Therapy Works (Boston Magazine)

I just love the name of this article! Lots of news outlets have covered what music therapy is, but I love that Boston Magazine decided to tell readers how music therapy works. Definitely worth a read!

Music Therapy Faculty Presents in Norway (Marylhurst University)

Dr. Kern is a respected leader in our field, and editor of Imagine Magazine, an early childhood music therapy magazine that The George Center will soon be featured in. It's great to hear about her getting international opportunities to demonstrate her knowledge!

Norton Audubon joins hospitals nationwide embracing music therapy (Courier-Journal)

It's always great to see music therapy expanding into more hospitals! Medical music therapy is a fast-growing field with some powerful research behind it. The George Center offers music therapy services for hospitals and medical facilities right here in Atlanta!

Lung Flute Blends Music, Therapy, and Innovation (University of Buffalo)

Hmmm, here's an interesting device! The Lung Flute helps clear mucus build up in the lungs simply by having the user blow through the pipe, which vibrates a reed, causing acoustic vibrations to loosen mucus in the lungs. Pretty cool!

Now, as a music therapist, I'm interested in seeing how this device might be modified to facilitate a musical experience while preserving the medical function of the device that might encourage regular usage. Imagine if users were able to play simple songs on the device. Might encourage patients to use the device regularly or even decrease fatigue while using it!

Interested in learning more about how a music therapist could improve services at your healthcare facility or hospital? Contact us today for a free consultation!

 

Round Up, August 5th

Welcome to August! And for many in Atlanta this week, welcome back to school! We're excited to jump back into the school season here, our schedules start to settle down a bit. On to the Round Up!

Tiny preemies get a boost from live lullabies (TheTandD.com)

 

 

Another article about the NICU program in Chicago! Man, that program is getting some serious press. This article mentions that "many insurers won't pay for music therapy." Clients of The George Center know that's not always true (and we're bustin' it to get more and more insurance companies to cover music therapy!)

 

Making music with your pulse -- for health and science (CNet)

 

Whoa, some wild technology here. This company has created an app that will allow users to send real time information about their heart rate and other health indicators like activity level and sleep patterns. By collecting this data, the app could recommend health changes, and could even allow users to participate in real time research studies.

Now, the music part: to incentivize people to use the app, the app makers envision enabling people to use their pulse to control beats and tempos of music. Full disclosure: even after reading the article, I'm not fulling grasping the concept. But it is interesting.

Studying movement and learning in autism (Philly.com)

Interesting research study which is looking at areas other than the brain affected by autism. The researcher believes that research focusing solely on the brain is misplaced, and that the whole sensory loop needs to be examined.

Healing Harmonies: Testing the Power of Music to Improve Senior Health (UCSF.edu)

 

Check out this study that will look at long term health benefits of singing in a choir! Looking forward to seeing the results of this one.

Interested in learning what music therapy could do for you or a loved one? Sign up for a free consultation!

 

Click to sign up for a free consultation!

 

Is Your Music Therapist Board Certified AND Licensed?

For those readers who have been with us since last year, you most likely know that I served on our state task force seeking state recognition for music therapists in Georgia. Our efforts at the Capitol were rewarded when our music therapy licensure law passed both houses and was signed by Governor Deal on May 1, 2012. By January 1, 2014 ALL MUSIC THERAPISTS WORKING IN GEORGIA MUST BE LICENSED TO PRACTICE!

This is an exciting time because it means that for the first time the state of Georgia will require the Music Therapist-Board Certified (MT-BC) credential as the minimum requirement to practice music therapy in our state. That’s not to say that someone who is not a music therapist can’t play music in a hospital, school, or rehab setting. Of course they can! And should! The music therapy licensure law simply outlines that music therapists have completed specialized degrees, 1200 clinical training hours, and a board certification exam in order to effectively treat clients. And it means that YOU as the consumer have access to higher quality services and can rest assured that your therapist is knowledgeable in using music to attain non-musical therapeutic goals. Not to mention, all licensed MT-BC’s must complete a background check. Duh.

In fact, the Georgia Secretary of State has appointed a music therapy advisory group to lead the way in regards to rules and regulations for music therapists in the state. The advisory committee is made up of 3 music therapists, 1 consumer, and 1 medical professional. I am honored to serve on the advisory committee and happy to report that we just had our first meeting last week! The consumer and medical professional serving on the board have had extensive experience working with other licensing boards and seemed genuinely interested in helping us navigate the growth of our profession. After being sworn in, we outlined some very important items for music therapists in Georgia. For instance…

  • In Georgia, music therapists can start applying for their licenses on August 15th 2013.
  • Applications must be snail mailed (can you believe it?). They must be notarized and sent with a check or money order, background check, and proof of residency and citizenship. Also, licensees must request that the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) email proof of certification to the licensing division of the Secretary of State.
  • The license must be renewed every 2 years.

So, next time you looking to hire a music therapist, why don’t you ask to see their credentials?

The George Center is proud of the fact that all of our music therapists are board certified and will be licensed by the end of the year. Call us to consult with a credentialed music therapist today!

 

Click to sign up for a free consultation!

 

The Music Prescription

One of the questions I frequently get asked when I tell people what I do goes something along the lines of:

"So, do you just play different songs for people to make them feel better? What songs do you use? How do you choose the right ones?"

As someone who works in the field, I've always found this question a bit odd. However, once you examine where it comes from, you get a better understanding of not just people's conception of music therapy, but as healthcare as a whole.

We've discussed the paradigm shift in healthcare from a disease-centered approach to a patient-centered approach at length on this blog. When you move the focus from the disease to the patient, several important factors change:

  • A holistic approach gains more importance
  • Decisions are made by health teams rather than individuals who do not communicate
  • Healthy living becomes more of a long term mission rather than a short term "recipe."

Music therapy fits perfectly into this mold. Not only can music therapy address a client's physiological needs, but their emotional, cognitive, and spiritual needs as well. Collaboration is highly important in music therapy. And of course, there is no "recipe" for success, but rather music therapy utilizes individualized plans for each client based on their needs.

It's from this "disease-centered" view of medicine that I think our original question stems from. Most of us are conditioned to a formulaic approach to wellness.

Ailment + Pill = Health

So when you hear about this "music therapy" thing, of course your initial idea is:

Ailment + Song = Health

However, this formula is missing several vital variables. The client's preferences, the client's individual needs, the client's cultural background, their age, the setting, etc. I don't think there really is a "formula" to follow.

When I say there's not a "formula," I certainly don't mean to say that there is no evidence-base for what we do. I think a more appropriate analogy might be that of a nutritionist. While certain truisms carry across clients (to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume), it's not as simple as saying "Acid reflux? Eat more of this, eat less of that."

It's a brave new world of healthcare, one that examines all of a patient's needs, and when our focus is on the individual, patients win.

Interested in learning more about music therapy? Come visit our clinic and meet with our staff! Sign up for a free consultation below.

 

 

Image credit: Flickr user e-MagineArt.com

Attention Parents and Providers! Medicaid Changes Related to the Affordable Care Act Coming

Although some waiver programs cover music therapy services, core Medicaid does not. So you may be asking yourself why a music therapy practice is posting a blog about Medicaid changes as related to the Affordable Care Act. Well, let me explain…

As a therapist I make it a point to be involved in the overall care of my patients and their families. In addition, I see the struggles that many our families deal with on a daily basis just trying to get basic medical care for their loved ones, not to mention the additional cost related to therapy and prescription coverage. Many of our patients and their families are dependent upon Medicaid funding as primary and/or secondary insurance to cover required medical treatments and tests.

Therefore, if our families are affected, we as a community are affected.

There are new Medicaid changes coming July 1, 2013 which will require that all physicians who order, prescribe, refer services for Medicaid recipients be enrolled as Medicaid providers. Many providers choose not to accept Medicaid because of funding and timely reimbursement issues. This will effectively cause many of our kids to lose their Medicaid coverage and/or be required to find a new primary care physician that accepts Medicaid! However, if a provider chooses NOT to accept Medicaid they can still enroll as an OPR (Ordering, Prescribing, and Referring) Medicaid provider by registering at the DCH website before April 1, 2013.

Even if you do have a pediatrician who is a Medicaid provider, consider this scenario:

  • You go to your child's specialist, who doesn't take Medicaid.  He orders a blood test, but it can't be done in his office or Medicaid won't pay for it.  
  • You have to take the order to your Pediatrician, who re-writes the order.  
  • However, most general pediatricians don't do blood work in their office, so you have to take the order to LabCorp or Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to get the test done.  

Three different medical offices, just so Medicaid will cover one blood test!  Multiply that by every therapy order, prescription, and diagnostic test your child needs, and you can see how this will become a significant issue for many of our clients. Additionally, those who refuse to find a new primary care physician that accepts Medicaid will have to pay for everything out-of-pocket.

Click here for a link to the Georgia Department of Community Health announcement.

Click here for a link the DCH DCH-i February/March 2013, Volume 2, Issue 3 newsletter further clarifying the new procedures.

Please take a few minutes to call and email your elected officials and let them know how this will affect their constituents.  You can find your elected officials by visiting www.votesmart.org. Lastly, please ask your current providers to enroll as an OPR providers at the DCH website BEFORE April 1, 2013.

Here at The George Center, we pride ourselves on finding every way possible for our clients to pay for therapy. Contact us today and we'll see how we can help you find funding for music therapy services!

 

Image credit: Flickr user atlexplorer (Original image)

Monday Round Up: Science-y Music Videos Edition

Happy Monday! We've got all the best music and health news from around the web right here for you to start your week!

11 Health Benefits of Music

From Huffington Post, check out this great slide show of the health benefits of music! From reducing stress to improving heart health, there's some fascinating stuff in that list.

MRI Scan Music Video

From CBS News, we found this really cool music video made up of MRI images. While not shot live while the participants were singing, it's a pretty neat combination of art and science.

Vocal Cords While Singing

If you're squeamish, don't click the link above!

Ever wonder how your vocal cords work? Here's quite the peek at them. I didn't embed this one, because it's not for the squeamish. This video shows a camera being inserted into the wind pipe of 4 singers as they sing together in harmony. Strangely beautiful and amazing. However, it is a camera being inserted down somebody's throat, so if you're grossed out by those things, you may want to take a pass.

Hearing Music as Beautiful Is a Learned Trait

From The Atlantic, an interesting study that tested the ability of trained musicians versus the general public to judge the dissonance of tones. The trained musicians were more sensitive to these dissonant and unfamiliar chords. From this they decided that trained musicians may be better able to appreciate music.

I'm a bit skeptical on this one. Music is made up of multiple elements, including harmony, rhythm, timbre, dynamics, and more. This study has reduced "music" to only one of these elements: harmony. While this was necessary in order to control the variables in the experiment, I find it to be too much of an oversimplification of music. But hey, it's interesting.

The Effect of Group Music Therapy on Mood, Speech, and Singing on Individuals with Parkinson's Disease

Finally, from the Fall 2012 edition of the Journal of Music Therapy comes this study about group music therapy techniques on individuals with Parkinson's Disease. Parkinson's often causes complications with speech, and this study found that participating in a group singing experience improved singing (duh) and voice quality (cool!). Additionally, group members did not display a decline in vocal quality that might be expected from an individual with Parkinson's Disease across a similar time period, though more research is needed to make such a conclusion.

Advocating Through Insurance Billing

Editorial Note: Today's blog post comes from our FANTASTIC office manager, Christy Deneau!

Being constantly surrounded by amazingly talented music therapists, I get a first hand peep into the world of music therapy. I see the incredible progress they make with their patients each week, as well as the grueling schedules that they keep. I ask myself, what can a person like me do for music therapy? I don’t have a musical bone in my body.

Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have the ears and eyes of insurance companies each day. A big part of my job is working with our families and their insurance companies to receive 3rd party reimbursement for our services. Although music therapy is becoming more main stream, insurance companies are still learning about music therapy, its benefits for each population, and its place as an allied health profession.

It is not always an easy process. In the event that I need to appeal a decision, I take advantage of knowing that a Medical Director will be thoroughly reviewing my file. I am always sure to send loads of fact sheets, supporting research, and information on music therapy to educate them appropriately. I am happy to report that we have appealed many times successfully and continue to see an increase in medical plans that cover music therapy, an often necessary therapy for our patients. Helping to educate the insurance companies and help our families out on the financial end of things is what I can do (since you never want to hear me sing or play an instrument!)

Did you know The George Center is one of the leading music therapy private practices when it comes to billing insurance? It's true! We successfully bill insurance for about 80% of our clients!  Contact us today and we'd be happy to see if YOUR insurance company will cover music therapy services!

 

Photo credit: Keith Allison (http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/5992627966/)

4 Ways You Can Advocate to Your Government

This is definitely an exciting time for music therapy advocacy, especially here in Georgia, and our GCMT friends and families are no strangers to just how far-reaching their advocacy efforts can be. In early 2012, we all came together in a grassroots effort to support the passing of SB 414 for Music Therapy Licensure, and saw firsthand that no act of advocacy is too small. Client families and healthcare professionals inundated their legislators with emails, phone calls, and testimonials. An intrepid team of music therapists beat feet all over the Georgia State Capitol building to educate people about their profession. The Georgia Music Therapy Task Force worked tirelessly for months on end, attending a multitude of meetings and hearings, and maintaining communication with organizations, legislators, and other music therapy professionals and advocates across the country. Through these combined efforts, we finally saw the passing of SB 414, making Georgia the 3rd state in the country to pass a bill for music therapy licensure!

Whether your state has recently passed a bill for music therapy licensure, is in the process of doing so, or has a newly formed task force, the time is always right for advocacy on any level. There are a few steps you can take to connect and communicate with your state legislators.

 1. Know who your legislators are.

You can find them and their contact information by going to www.votesmart.org and entering your zip code.

2. CONNECT!

Whether it be by phone, email, social media, or a face to face meeting, it is important to let your legislator know you are their constituent.

3. Communicate

You may not have to limit yourself to 140 characters (unless you follow them on Twitter!), but your legislators will have many issues vying for their time, so it is important for your communications to be concise, factual, and to-the-point.

4. Follow Up

Keep the lines of communication open, answer questions, and look for opportunities to invite them to see music therapy in action!

So, whether you are advocating at your state capitol or in the school carpool line, if you are able to share any information about what music therapists do, where they work, and how music therapy can benefit others, then you have advocated successfully.

Happy Advocating!

Ready to get started with music therapy?  Contact us today and let us tell you more about what we do!