While a lot of the talk surrounding music these days looks at it from a business perspective, it's important to remember music's more intangible value. Here George Howard speaks with MedRhythms' CEO Brian Harris about his company's work using music to heal traumatic brain injuries.
Amidst all of the chatter about music as it relates to business models, it can be easy to forget that music is unlike other “inputs” or assets that businesses utilize. This is true for all art forms, of course, but music – for a variety of reasons – dominates the conversations around the challenges of attempting to commoditize art.
I’m sure I speak for not only music fans, but also for those who work in the music business, when I say that music has value that far exceeds monetization. For many – myself included – music has saved their lives.
Amidst my contributions to the above-referenced chatter, I’d like to utilize this space to profile some companies who are using music to heal.
To that end, I spoke recently with Brian HarrisHRS +0.00%, the CEO of MedRhythms. MedRhythms uses neurologic music therapy to treat those with neurologic injury or disease.
It’s easier to show than tell, and the video below demonstrates the amazing efficacy of MedRhythms approach:
My interview with Mr. Harrislightly edited for grammar and clarityis below.
George Howard: Why is this particular form of music therapy so much more effective than others?
Brian Harris: Our approach is different from other music therapy in that it is all neuro. Most music therapists view music as a social science; using music for well being. We look at music as a neuroscience with interventions deeply rooted in neuroscience research.
GH: So what is it about your approach that’s so effective?
BH: Really, the reason our innovation works is rhythm. It’s effective in helping people recover gait. For instance [as the video above shows], we had a patient that had been getting physical therapy for five or six days a week for three weeks prior to our first session, and he was walking 40 feet with a cane. After one session using our approach he was walking 250 feet without a cane.
The patient in the video above is named George Tse. He provided this quote and it is used with his permission. When my ambulation progress started to slow, it was suggested I try a new type of therapy; neurologic music therapy. It was nothing short of amazing. I remember my first session. I was walking with a cane very slowly with the help of my physical therapist. Then Brian started to play a tune on his guitar and something clicked. I started walking with the rhythm. After a few minutes I didn’t need my cane anymore. Every time music was was playing, my walking significantly improved. Within a week, I had my rhythm back.
The intervention we use is using a guitar playing a specific rhythm. We play a downbeat every time the patient takes a step.
This is not an isolated incident; sometimes music is the only thing that works.
GH: Fantastic. So, I’m always concerned about impact when I hear about these types of innovations. This strikes me as a very hands-on type of approach. So, how do you scale, and how do you stay in business? Do you have funding?
BH: So far, we’ve bootstrapped the business, and we’re at positive cash flow. Our competitive advantage comes from being the thought leaders in the space.
We’re the first in New England to take this approach, and we believe we’re the top people in field, and are focused on working with top hospitals.
GH: Like who?
BH: We launched out of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, an innovative hospital in Boston. This has allowed us to grow and develop inpatient, outpatient, and in-home programs, and has given us the fuel that will allow us to reach across the country. We are currently working on this plan for expansion now.
GH: Got it. And so the billing is done through the hospitals; you’re revenue isn’t via being some kind of training program that people pay for certification or something?
BH: Right. Our revenue is via billing insurance companies or hospitals. We accept private pay as well as our other billing options. We’re not a training program where people learn and leave. Our goal is to train people and have them stay.
GH: Makes sense, I suppose. How do you scale? Is there an app or remote approach?
BH: We are working toward this type of technological approach. Ultimately, we’re focused on expanding the awareness of this type of approach; growing the field, and then finding a way to make it accessible to everyone.
GH: Right. You’re acting like Tesla with respect to its patents. You’re willing to let the IP – so to speak – get out there and be used by others, because in so doing, the entire market expands, and, because you’re best of breed, you win?
BH: Yes, the Tesla analogy is good one, but we are also developing ways for NMTs to improve their jobs and provide higher quality treatment.
GH: Thanks, Brian. It’s important work you’re doing.