On March 22, I sat in the W. Proctor Harvey Amphitheater at Georgetown University’s School of Medicine, mesmerized by Tamara Wellons’ rendition of I Surrender All and Walk in The Light. Tamara is a vocalist-in-residence with the Georgetown Lombardi Arts and Humanities Program (AHP) and performed during MedStar’s first-ever Music as Medicine Symposium. The symposium, co-organized by AHP and the MedStar Institute for Innovation, featured thought-provoking presentations on music, art, stress, health, and well-being. My co-fellow Renee and I attended the symposium as part of the Health for America (HFA) at MedStar Health fellowship curriculum.
Music as Medicine Program
The symposium featured over 10 speakers and musical performers, including Eva Bojner Horwitz, PhD, PhT, DMT and Töres Theorell, MD, PhD, both of whom are world-renowned scholars from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. The Karolinska Institutet is a prestigious medical university and is Sweden’s largest center of medical academic research, courses, and programs.
Dr. Horwitz’s presentation discussed various art-based interventions that can be used by patients and providers to combat stress and burnout. In addition, she presented different activities and techniques related to humanizing health care. Dr. Theorell discussed the psychological health effects of music on individuals and walked the group through various studies related to the topic.
The Cultural Health Box
In 2014, Dr. Horwitz, Dr. Theorell, and their colleagues from the Karolinska Institutet published a series of six books titled Cultural Health Box. Elements of the books were incorporated into Dr. Horwitz and Dr. Theorell’s Music as Medicine presentations. The books are intended for patients and hospital staff alike, providing readers with self-care skills to help reduce stress and improve overall health and well-being. The techniques in the book center around music, film, theater, dance, voice, and drawing.
In addition to discussing the subject matter of the books, Dr. Horwitz highlighted different implementation techniques that organizations can use to efficiently teach and scale Cultural Health Box’s self-care techniques to employees. Dr. Horwitz explained that training each provider across Sweden’s healthcare facilities was not economically or geographically feasible. Thus, the Karolinska Institutet created a Train the Trainer program for Cultural Health Box. The program includes seminars, workshops, and computer-based education modules. In addition, post-training data metrics were created to monitor and track the success of the Train the Trainer program.
Applying Train the Trainer Techniques to Telehealth
The concept of training the trainer is frequently discussed by my team at the MedStar Telehealth Innovation Center (MTIC). As a center that supports over 31,000 physicians, nurses, and associates across MedStar’s distributed care delivery network, our team often encounters logistical and geographic barriers to training. By leveraging innovative training mechanisms, we are able to provide structured training to providers without physically being present.
The ability to develop and monitor provider-based training programs is central to my work as a HFA fellow, as Renee and I are currently working to implement special projects related to our respective fellowship focus areas. My telehealth special project will ultimately warrant the training of providers and support staff on a new virtual care model. From now through the end of my fellowship on July 31, 2018, I will work to apply the lessons learned from Dr. Horwitz and Dr. Theorell’s presentations to my special project and overall MTIC work.
To read a high-level overview of Cultural Health Box's six different books/cultural packages, see pages 2-3 of this study that utilized them. The books are otherwise printed in Swedish and aren't currently available online.