Singers and musicians are lifting patients' spirits at hospitals nationwide, one song at a time.
The nonprofit Musicians On Call has brought live in-person and virtual performances to more than 1 million patients’ bedsides since launching more than 23 years ago. Nearly 100 hospitals have partnered with the organization, including several Nashville, Tennessee-based HCA Healthcare hospitals and Veterans Health Administration medical centers.
"Patient experience is one of our main focuses," said Tom Gallagher, chief of the center for development and civic engagement at the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System. "How do we make what can be a very difficult time in somebody's life the best experience it possibly can be? This [program] obviously has a great impact on how a patient feels."
A meta-analysis published in JAMA Network Open last March showed music significantly boosted patients' mental health and bolstered treatment plans, such as by helping hypertensive patients manage their blood pressure. Gallagher has experienced the impact of Musicians On Call firsthand: a volunteer performed for him when he was a patient at a VA hospital a few years ago.
"It made me feel special," Gallagher said. "It made that day so much better."