Healthcare News & Insights

Music and the patient experience: Taking cues from one hospital’s program

As a way to enhance the patient experience and speed up recovery time, some hospitals have turned to live music.

484515695Many studies have touted the general benefits of music to relieve stress and improve health. So hospitals are taking advantage of these benefits to improve the welfare of their patients.

One hospital in particular has a vibrant music program: The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). For the past several years, the hospital has brought in musicians of all types to entertain its patients, according to an article from The Advisory Board Company, a healthcare consulting firm.

Once or twice a month, volunteer musicians perform at the hospital, usually in a lounge or a cafeteria. The lounge concerts are smaller, usually just for patients on a particular floor. Cafeteria concerts are performed for larger audiences. But all patients, staff and their families are invited to attend any show.

Musicians who perform at the hospital include high school performers, college musicians and members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, among others.

The program’s been so positively received, UPMC is thinking of expanding it to offer different kinds of entertainment, like art classes.

Bringing music to their ears

Putting a program like this in place at your hospital doesn’t have to take a lot of money or time. Karen Robinson, manager of patient relations and director of volunteer and student services at the UPMC Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, helped launch the concert program at UPMC. In the Advisory Board article, Robinson shared three ways hospitals can create a program of their own without breaking the bank:

  1. When looking for performers, be creative. It’s helpful to explore all free and low-cost options for bringing in performers that are available in your area. Besides using students and professional musicians as volunteers, UPMC has found performers through staff recommendations and partnerships with music foundations.
  2. Schedule concerts for times when you’ll have other volunteers on site. If you know certain days are more popular with your volunteers, do your best to have performances on those days. You can use the volunteers to give last-minute reminders to patients, and have them help transport patients to the performance.
  3. Give yourself plenty of lead time to look for musicians. It may take a while to get approval for some groups, such as school bands, to perform at your hospital. Take that into account when you’re first setting the wheels in motion.

Besides hosting concerts in communal areas, some hospitals go the extra mile in hosting musicians and have performers come to patients’ bedsides in their hospital rooms.

There’s even a nonprofit organization, Musicians on Call, that specializes in doing so. Musicians on Call has branches throughout the country, and its goal is to bring the healing power of music to patients who may be too ill to leave their rooms.

However your hospital chooses to offer music to patients, taking the time to create a concert program could be a major factor in improving their well-being during their hospital stay.

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