Using Music to Improve Healthcare Outcomes with Rachel Francine, Co-Founder & CEO of Musical Health Technologies
Episode 254

Rachel Francine, Co-Founder & CEO of Musical Health Technologies

Using Music to Improve Healthcare Outcomes

Advocating for music as a digital therapeutic

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Using Music to Improve Healthcare Outcomes with Rachel Francine, Co-Founder & CEO of Musical Health Technologies

Episode 254

Recommended Book:

Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature

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Using Music to Improve Healthcare Outcomes with Rachel Francine, Co-Founder & CEO of Musical Health Technologies

Hey Outcomes Rocket friends, thanks for tuning in to the podcast once again. As a leader in health care, you have big ideas, great products, a story to tell, and are looking for ways to improve your reach and scale your business. However there’s one tiny problem. Health care is tough to navigate and the typical sales cycle is slow. That’s why you should consider starting your own podcast as part of your sales and marketing strategy. At the Outcomes Rocket, I’ve been able to reach thousands of people every single month that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to reach if I had not started my podcast. Having this organic reach enables me to get the feedback necessary to create a podcast that delivers value that you are looking for. And the same thing goes if you start a podcast for what you could learn from your customers. The best thing about podcasting in healthcare is that we are currently at the ground level, meaning that the number of people in healthcare listening to podcasts is small but growing rapidly. I put together a free checklist for you to check out the steps on what it takes to create your own podcast. You could find that at Check it out today and find a new way to leverage the sales, marketing and outcomes of your business. That’s

Welcome back once again to the Outcomes Rocket podcast where we chat with today’s most successful and inspiring health leaders. Today I have the wonderful Rachel Francine. She is the co-founder and CEO of Musical Health Technologies. We’ve had several musical health focused companies on the podcast within the last year and Rachel comes to us with over 15 years experience building startups. Rachel has led teams and strategy for recognized leaders in technology and media including Citysearch, Ticketmaster, and Current TV. Rachel’s earned her master’s degree in long term strategic planning in order to build the profitable businesses that also have done immensely well. Her specialties include startup strategic planning systems Berry, transformative economics and Scifi geekdom some excited to dive into some of the things that Rachel is great at as well as some of the focus areas and initiatives that musical health technology. So Rachel welcome to the podcast.

Thank you very much for having me.

It’s a pleasure. Now Rachel talk to me was there something in the intro that I left out that maybe you wanted to share?

Yeah I mean I think the one thing I would dig a little deeper into because you were very complete there is really the idea that the kind of businesses that I really want to build the organizations that they want to build are the ones that have triple or quadruple bottom line effects. You know when you say you know businesses that can sort of do good not to do well it’s really the idea that we can prove that you could have a great business that does well financially that and that has immense social good, right. I think we’re seeing a lot of tech companies out there that you know they’re making all this money and then you’re looking at them going and was that really the right decision to let them run rampant with you know a lot of different things. So I would say that’s the one thing and that’s really what we’re trying to do here. So you can set out to have triple or quadruple bottom line impacts where you doing well for society while financially having transformative effects for people in society and other bottom line as well as do well ecologically all of that was incredibly hard at this point. That’s a whole other podcast.

For sure. Now it’s good to have that well-rounded focus as a company. What would you say got you into health care to begin with?

Yes so for me health care was a bit of a circuitous route. My background really is in technology and innovation. I started working on the internet in 1996 as you were saying and really sort of my path to health care came because you worked for all of these very innovative companies maybe you know I worked at Citysearch early on and to research honest to be yelp of its day and it was about your whole community. At one address and you know we covered Little League games that we covered the restaurants right. But eventually somewhere along the line we got bought by Ticketmaster and all of a sudden what we really became was about selling tickets and that was really the truth of it. And from there I went to record a lot of organizations that really claimed to want to be revolutionary and transform something or democratize something, right. And at the end of the day what it came back to was becoming an advertising platform for Coke or Pepsi. And for me that was that was a really hard pill to swallow, after a while. I really wanted just to be good. How can you use technology for good? Just so happened that I had a very crazy entrepreneurial technology sort of ahead of his time dad. Will came up with an idea for this weird thing called lyric coaching, lyric prompting that he really took from the opera which is what he studied and the idea for that as you just pop the words of song to somebody right where they need to sing them. Well lo and behold who knew that this was also a technique that music therapist and speech therapist use to do everything from help people to regain speech after a traumatic brain injury to eliminate some behaviors and improve the lives of people with dementia. And my dad stumbled across this technique and essentially just programmed my brother and I to live out his invention and to his idea. I went to technology and my brother became a therapist and…

I like that he’s really programmed you guys.

Yeah. He did. He’s very effective. He is really very inspirational we were working from a very young age and a lot of my dad’s business is I think we were really kind of kind of programmed to be more in nature I’ve never really had anything else. So what we really noticed when Andy went into music therapy was this idea that music as a therapeutic medium has icredible, talk about transformative impact. Right like the ability to rewire the brains.

It’s amazing.

The ability to lower your blood pressure or to increase somebodies lung capacity who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease you the the the act of singing could do so many things. There’s a real distribution problem. And what’s the thing that technology can help with sort of better than anything is scaling something and distributing it on a wider basis. And so that’s really where Andy and I came together even though we’ve both been sort of working and looking at this problem since we were teenagers and are really good at doing karaoke shows. Know in one way or another, Andy became a music therapist and started music looking at music therapy when he was about 19 and you know I started in technology when I was in my early 20’s. So I think we both always looked at what we’ve done to sort of the lens of Dad’s invention and really found out how powerful it could be and decided it was time, was time.

Well the time has arrived. And you guys are doing some very cool things. What would you say is a hot topic that needs to be on the agenda of health care leaders today?

Yes so to me it’s sort of the places where pharmaceuticals have maybe not lived up to their best potential. I think that you know we’ve put a lot of faith into pharmaceuticals to be able to solve a lot of problems. And the fact of the matter is in many places they do great. And in other places not only don’t they do great not only are they able to solve the problems but they cause a lot more problems than they solve sometimes and that’s evidenced by the opioid crisis as evidenced by there was just another study on sort of how many know sort of Aus diagnosis, anti psychotic medications, dementia patients get, right. So the only tool in the toolbox and of course now totally coming from my own point of view and they’re. But the only tool. One of the only tools in the tool box for a lot of health care professionals out there pills and it’s not always the way to go. So I think to me I would say sort of yes yes think that you know Guy Kawasaki has Apple’s evangelist you always said you know joke is how do you know. How do you know an entrepreneur is pitching? And they answer questions their lips are moving. So the idea is that you know even though I am advocating for sync that this idea that we should be looking at not pharmacological interventions I don’t think syncing that is the only logical intentional intervention out there I think in general the health care industry should be that way.

Now there’s a lot of different options. You’re right. Music is one of them. Digital therapeutics. Right. Right. So for sure there’s always a different way and I think it’s important for us to visit those ways. So Rachel can you share with the listeners how you and your organization are currently doing that maybe some stories where you you’ve improved outcomes or improve the process flow?

Yes so basically part of the challenge with music is medicine as we were alluding to earlier is there’s a scale problem. So there’s only 7,000 music therapist in the country as opposed to 185 as an occupational therapists. So our goal as a company really is to figure out how do we distribute this in a way that works really well and so what we did first was created a product for the senior living industry. And if you wanted to. So within the senior living industry new activities department might have let’s say two to four hundred dollars a month to spend on programming for the people who live in that community. So that means if you wanted to have a music therapist come in and actually do music as medicine you could maybe get them in there twice a month right maybe three times and then you know there’s there’s a study out in England where basically said that basically did Emet a study that said what works for dementia and the results that came back was basically that great but only 5% of organizations are actually using care homes are actually using music effectively to care for people with dementia. So we know we need to get it into these places. So what we were able to do is say okay look we can take our technology which is our lyric our technology platform which consists of our lyric coaching technology which feeds the words of a song to somebody right before they need to sing them. So there’s no memory involved there’s no reading involved everybody could just instantaneously take part. Right. And bam we created music service design protocols that a 15-dollar an hour 20-dollar an hour activities director and a senior living community they can in this one very specific instance be able to deliver the same kind of therapeutic musical experience that a therapist would be able to deliver. Now that music therapist could deliver a lot of other kinds of interventions as well. But in this one case they’re able to deliver because we also give training to those activities directors. So they get three hours of online training so we use technology essentially to be able to enable more people to use music as medicine and bring it to a greater number of people.

Yeah you know that’s really interesting that I don’t know a number of music therapist was so limited just kind of thinking through some of the things that you have done. Have you seen or heard any of the results of some of the programs you’ve run?

Sure. So essentially we’re at over 400 senior living communities around the country and we’ve trained over 16 hundred people and we’ve done four different studies with four of our clients. And so generally we see something like a 42-82% elevation in mood, pre and post session this is both with people who had dementia as well as people who don’t have dementia. We also see specifically for people with dementia and reduction in agitation and wandering these are things that in the dementia realm are called Behaviors. So that is things that are the outside world sees as negative. But we see that people we get comments back people who never, never focus or completely chance vexed by saying that people who have repetitive kind of motion right those disappear we’re seeing that and a lot of speech returning right people who don’t normally speak well saying and sometimes that even carries over into increase speech after the sessions and then at one of our clients adopt a program here in California they did a study that essentially said that they found when they looked at a group of participants that they were able to reduce their as needed anti-anxiety meds by 40% by doing the same fit sessions. And these are people…


It’s a bet a lot of people there are veterans. So these are people with a lot of post-traumatic stress. Well yes a week and we get them a lot of amazing amazing feedback and it’s a really nice part of being in hospital care actually when you’ve that’s the kind of feedback you get. You know as somebody who is talking you know who never talked to any of the staff is ever you know sort of converse with anybody as now walking down the hall and asking the accession.

That’s pretty cool. That’s pretty cool. And the results are phenomenal. So singfit is the program. Is this a sort of game or is it a guided exercise?

Yes so Singfit Prime which is the product that we have on the market right now. This is very specifically for people who live in long term care so either in memory care or assisted living maybe in adult day programs. And this is really what’s really are proof statement this product where it’s not really game by just actually a group session. It’s led by an individual so an activities director maybe a social partner. They get trained and they essentially are given a script 12 scripts, a quarter and these scripts take the participants on a journey that involves songs. So maybe it’s a trip through your brain. And each one of them is pretty Clementine’s you have a different thing of trivia and there’s reminiscence and there’s movement in all of this is baked in by our music therapist in order to have the maximum therapeutic impact. Think that one of the things that people don’t really realize about what we do is that we sort of we kind of think of ourselves as like a duck on a pond right, where on the top of it what it looks like is people are saying and having fun. And underneath that there’s all this spurious where it’s going on in actual therapeutic activity right so that where we’re taking in songs for its air movements for example that cross the line of the body that can just look like you’re doing a rocket’s kick and that can seem very nice but the fact of the matter is from a neurological perspective when you cross the midline of the body with a movement you are then exercising both hemispheres of the brain right. And this is why it’s able to live once they get that elevation once they know once that stuff is sort of kicking in because of the singing. These are why you get these lasting effects because we’re really building in really a therapeutic program underneath what seems like a sing-a-long.

That’s super cool. Now if the listeners are wondering where can we get this? How do we find out more? Where we are and they go?

So go, you can do that.

How do you spell it?

So it’s or I would recommend that you Google singfit on YouTube. We have a lot of videos up there of people actually using a product and getting benefit out of it.

Awesome so folks. Check that out and think about it. I mean it just is pretty phenomenal what this group is doing how they’re putting it together and how easy they’re making it for you to access this type of therapeutic for your population. So you’re managing and an elderly home or wherever it may be you may want to be thinking about this for your population because it’s definitely a good option. So tell us a little bit about you know you guys have been working on this for awhile right. You and your brother started this. You said your dad your dad programmed you for it and now here you are. Now as the process has gone forward Rachel, what would you say a setback that you’ve had that you learned the most from you want to share with the listeners?

I think the fact that I learned the most from is really around billing and the health care industry. Yeah right. Is is that when we picked dementia to start with because you know it’s difficult to get by the way. Yes. So we could have gone with a lot of stuff right. And we did venture for a bunch of reasons. One was that in 120 years. No pharmaceutical solution for dementia. Yeah. So you know Namenda onset they maybe delay the onset but everything else is given for dimentia wasn’t really created to treat or cure dementia. Right now nothing’s really work and so we knew that there was a lack of solutions on the market and we knew that singing was actually accepted more as a therapeutic tool in senior living communities and for people working those of dementia because they see that it’s the only thing that really works. So we knew that there would be an, to some level of an acceptance of the product or our hypothesis was in somewhere where they see it working every day rather than trying to break down the walls of say the hospital systems. And we wanted to start in a business to business fashion for a variety of reasons that we go into but that’s what we decided to start. But the thing that I didn’t know about dementia when we chose it so we knew we could create a great product for it. We knew that there was a need. We went out we talked to some people in the market we asked them what kind of solutions they were looking for. We knew we could and we knew because music therapist had been doing this for decades in senior living communities that we could really, really be successful with the product. But what we didn’t know is that dementia is not reimbursable by Medicare for the most part. And so I think the sort of distribution that right of working in health care and pretty much all business dystopic that you know going in and really realizing how financially driven everything is especially in the U.S. and that we know you’ve really got to be able to prove that you can make a dollar, save a dollar you have to be able to show where that reimbursement is coming from. And with dementia that is formidably difficult. So our next product focus on other areas and one of the big things that we take into consideration is where’s the money coming from. You know what’s reimbursable? It’s not reimbursable. How is that thing reimbursed? I think a lot of us come into a lot of technology people like me come into to health care and and we don’t necessarily you know realize that oh the other thing of course is the length of the sales cycle. I didn’t have that…

They’re long.

They’re long, right. So healthcare is long and senior care is longer. So you know I think those would be the two things is is really understanding especially if you’re coming in from outside of healthcare as I was that you know coming from a more sort of consumer technology-driven place that the sales cycles are going to be longer and there’s going to be different kinds of challenges around reimbursement and who’s paying and especially in this changing healthcare environment.

Yeah such a great insight that you’re offering up here Rachel and you know as a lot of businesses do get into healthcare from a technology standpoint reimbursement is definitely one that has to be at the forefront and a lot of people run into this right. Great ideas and then they’re confronted with the reality of the health care system. The beautiful thing is that you stayed with it. You’re offering your solution you’ve tailored it in such a way that created a business model for your triple or quadruple aim. And now your taking your learnings and refocusing on a new area of care which I think is so interesting. So kudos to you and your brother and your team for having the tenacity and the staying power because that’s really what it’s going to take to create that company that’s going to light it up.

Well thank you. I agree I think you know one day I was we’re hiring somebody and I looked up you know what makes the best attributes for a startup employee and like the number one thing was greet. Right. It was to play greet. The ability just to make it up because you can have a great idea a lot of people have great ideas but you’re 100% right I think and especially in the health care realm where you can take a really long time but it’s worth it. I’ve never gotten the kinds of notes from customers and from people using the product that you know it’s different when you’re helping to build cities guides and then when you’re helping someone you know mother with dementia you get different totally…

That’s rewarding. Now thanks for sharing that. You know I think though listeners it could resonate with a lot of them. I mean we’ve to this point we’ve interviewed over 300 leaders this past year and Rachel you know you’re not alone in this. Everybody’s learning and as we build this communal knowledge of what we can reimburse and what we can’t and we just become stronger and we keep building so keep at what you’re doing it’s definitely making a difference.

Oh thank you so much I really appreciate it Saul.

Absolutely. Now tell us about an exciting project or focus that you’re working on today Rachel.

Oh my. There are so many. there’s so many that PR departments from other companies are sitting on that I can’t share. So we’ve signed a deal with a top five senior living provider which means that we’re now in 42 states across the country so that’s really exciting. Abbas signed a deal with a pretty legendary singer songwriter to actually use and master tracks which I think is just sort of a fun sort of thing that we’re sitting on there is that is pretty cool actually. Yeah yeah. And it’s and it’s somebody who’s quite respected. And we’re waiting for that record company to let us make the announcement. His people have already let us do that. But it’s it’s a real validation from the music community of what we’re doing. So that’s really exciting. And then we also there’s an article in Stria news online publication that is covering what’s covering that industry and sort of gave a peek into the fact that we entered into a relationship with AARP. So that is exciting for a company in the senior space to be talking to AARP about a lot of the projects that we are working towards a larger relationship and then also we are launching a new product which is called singfit studio and that product. It’s really the platform. So singfit prime which is the product that we are doing for dementia which is this group product that’s been going great and we continue to sell that because the product is really going to be sort of the backbone of our future and really in all different kinds of health care professionals the ability teeth it has let us in with a variety of clients who have a variety of conditions and comorbidities which is going to probably be a big focus of ours.

I think that’s awesome. Congrats. Some amazing stuff actually on the bike. Here’s my excited for you guys and definitely looking forward to keeping in touch as we get to the end here Rachel we’re going to do a little syllabus. We build it out every episode.


Is the episode on how to be awesome and health care with Rachel. And so I’m going to ask you four questions lightning round style followed by your favorite book. You ready?

Ok yes.

All right. What’s the best way to improve health care outcomes?

Focus on the patient.

What is the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?

Assuming you know everything.

How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?s

Scenario planning.

What is one area of focus that drives everything in your organization?

Therapeutic benefit to the clients.

What book would you recommend to the listeners.

I was just talking about Biomimicry and Design to somebody so I would think about that. It’s just a different way to think about creating products and this particular way is by studying natural phenomenon and so might not apply directly to everybody’s product but it’s a really interesting read.

I love that great recommendation. It’s all about changing that mindset. I had a guest actually today earlier today. She she recommended poetry. She likes to read poetry because it really takes a look at language and the way that you phrase things. Poetry is made to surprise into use different elements of poetry and so your example kind of parlays really nicely with hers and that just look for different ways to change the frame. You know the other example too Rachel and listeners is is I had a guest that said I make it a point for myself and my team to go to a conference that’s completely unrelated to health care like they’ll go to plumbing conferences or like something totally different. A food conference and they’ll find insights that are just amazing. So love your example Biomimicry is now on my list. Thank you for the recommendation.

Yes of course. I always love to recommend good book.

Hey so Rachel before we conclude, I love if you could just share a closing thought and then the best place where the listeners could lock you up or follow you.

Oh I guess my closing thought is in addition to my technology background I studied future studies as strategic planning and in future studies were sometimes talked about the probable possible, and preferable future.The probable future is the future where everybody kind of assumes it’s going to happen. So in the 1950s people always assumed computers would be as big as around but all over the world you know all these possible features are being born. Whether it’s the technology or social change or whatever it is. And that’s what a lot of futurists do is help the game play what that’s going to be for big organizations. My interest in teacher studies has always been about the preferable future and it’s looking at these possible futures and saying what do we really want. And it’s surprising how once you get the that’s what most people really want the same things. We’re just talking about it in different ways and the like clothing that is I think we should all build companies that create preferable futures and really think about what we want this for for our futures to be and that’s what I try to make our company an example of a good preferable future when they walk into the doctor that the you know prescription he gives you or her something that’s going on like cars all the side effects for something that’s also going to bring you joy and delight. And all these other positive things.

Fascinating love that frame. It’s just you know probable, preferrable, oh no probable…

Probable possible, and preferable.

Love that. Probable possible and preferable. Think of it in terms of that listeners. That’s a great message from Rachel. And Rachel what would be the best place for listeners to get in touch or follow you?

So they can follow us I’m pretty much everywhere. We are I don’t really you know I started writing blogs in 1996 before there were really blogs and I don’t really get around to reading aloud much more anymore. But we do have a lot on the side. So when I look at some stuff written by me about what’s going on they could see it there and understand things that are awesome and listeners you could find the so and you can also find the show notes to this episode at Rachel this has been fun. Thank you for enlightening us with these really neat things that you’re up to and we’re excited to stay in touch with you.

As well and thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity.

Hey Outcomes Rocket friends, thanks for tuning in to the podcast once again. As a leader in health care, you have big ideas, great products, a story to tell, and are looking for ways to improve your reach and scale your business. However there’s one tiny problem. Health care is tough to navigate and the typical sales cycle is slow. That’s why you should consider starting your own podcast as part of your sales and marketing strategy. At the Outcomes Rocket, I’ve been able to reach thousands of people every single month that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to reach if I had not started my podcast. Having this organic reach enables me to get the feedback necessary to create a podcast that delivers value that you are looking for. And the same thing goes if you start a podcast for what you could learn from your customers. The best thing about podcasting in healthcare is that we are currently at the ground level, meaning that the number of people in healthcare listening to podcasts is small but growing rapidly. I put together a free checklist for you to check out the steps on what it takes to create your own podcast. You could find that at Check it out today and find a new way to leverage the sales, marketing and outcomes of your business. That’s

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