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Hull-based start-up create revolutionary new app that dispenses music as medicine

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Patients around the world will soon be prescribed soothing music chosen by artificial intelligence to ease their anxiety and pain, thanks to an encouraging trial of a health tech app on dementia patients.

British health tech start-up MediMusic has created an app and a streaming device called the MediBeat that dispenses personalised playlists to reduce anxiety and pain in patients using a ‘digital drip’ to administer the most calming music.

It could revolutionise the treatment of dementia, pre/post operation, chronic pain, dentistry, and Alzheimer’s Disease through to improving motor response as part of a physical rehabilitation programme.

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Initial clinical NHS trials at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, found the use of MediMusic saw an up to 22% reduction in heart rate in patients with dementia during the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be used in hospitals, care homes and dentist surgeries and could slash medication bills by up to a quarter.

Music therapy has already been proven in several previous studies to reduce anxiety by 44% and pain by 28%. This has resulted in a reduction in the need for relevant medication by 24%.

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Now the revolutionary treatment is undergoing an NHS trial also at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, on 40 NHS doctors and nurses and other staff who have worked in critical care during the pandemic, to help them ease anxiety and stress. The trial starts Thursday May 6.

According to a nationwide NHS Staff Survey with nearly 600,000 responses, almost half of NHS staff in England (44%) have reported feeling unwell from work related stress during 2020, the highest rate recorded in the past five years.

The MediMusic app works with the patient’s age, gender, nationality, and ethnicity and based on sociological and psychological science, it then compiles in seconds the perfect 20-minute playlist of soothing music to calm them.

Playlist running order is designed to reduce heart rate and stress hormones like cortisol and promotes relaxation through hormones like dopamine and oxytocin. The music is played through earphones and the MediBeat streaming device and a heart rate monitor worn on the wrist.

Initial clinical trials with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals on 25 patients with dementia appear to be powerful.

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Dr Jacqueline Twamley, Academic Research and Innovation Manager at the Centre for Health Research & Innovation at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust administering MediMusic to Nurse Sheleen Armstrong at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital on new trial starting today of 40 NHS staff working in critical care to help combat work stress

Dr Jacqueline Twamley, Academic Research and Innovation Manager at the Centre for Health Research & Innovation at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (pictured) said:

“The results have been very impressive. We used MediMusic on 25 patients suffering from dementia during the COVID-19 pandemic. One 75-year-old patient had vascular dementia and was known to have sundowning behaviour, which presents as agitation.

“The use of the MediMusic service saw a reduction in pre/post heart rate: 76bpm initially, settling at 60bpm, which was a reduction of 22% At the end of the playlist, agitation did not resume for about an hour afterwards.

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“We believe that dispensing music as medicine could revolutionise the treatment of dementia and other similar neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s.

“The initial findings are so positive that we’re now looking at how it can help ease anxiety and stress in doctors and nurses working in critical care on the frontline of caring for Covid patients.

“A lot of critical care staff are keen to participate in the MediMusic trial. They have been under significant pressure over the last year dealing with successive waves of Covid.

“And with 44% of NHS staff reporting feeling ill with work related stress during the pandemic, we really hope MediMusic can help. We think it has really exciting potential.”

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MediMusic, a Hull-based medical tech start-up that takes a scientific approach to unlock music’s transformative medical benefits, has used this evidence to develop a practical technology to reduce the reliance on drugs.

How MediMusic works

The brain responds to music more than any other stimulus. MediMusic’s proprietary algorithms extract the relevant features from the digital DNA of a piece of music, resulting in a fingerprint for healthcare use.

Using Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and the data about the patient, MediMusic then automatically creates playlists from music streaming services within a couple of clicks and plays the music through a streaming device called theMediBeat and a pair of headphones.

Each chosen track is ‘heartrate optimised’ to reduce anxiety, stress or pain, improve quality of life and streamline healthcare workflow.

A heart rate monitor worn on the wrist allows MediMusic to monitor the physiological effect of a piece of music upon a listener and if the listener’s heart rate does not respond as expected, MediMusic’s ‘Digital Drip’ uses Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to swap out forthcoming playlist tracks to invoke slower relaxation if required.

In addition to the track swap out process, MediMusic provides evidence based KPIs showing the service benefit and medication cost savings.

MediMusic has several other NHS trials underway with another three planned.

Gary Jones, CEO and co-founder of MediMusic 

Gary Jones said: “We’ve always felt the music can soothe our soul but now we have compelling evidence that it can help our mind and body too. With MediMusic, we’ve managed to digitally fingerprint the DNA of music so we can prescribe the right type of music as medicine.

“Our initial clinical trials using MediMusic shows it has a very encouraging future in the treatment of patients. Doctors, nurses and care home workers will be able to monitor the effect of the music in a clinical environment and see the benefits for themselves.

“Now we want to see if we can help NHS staff combat work stress. Stress is believed to account for over 30% of sickness absence in the NHS, costing the service up to £400 million per year.

“The results of a joint study between Brunel University and Queen Mary University reviewed evidence from 7,000 patients that proved listening to music eased a patients’ anxiety, reduced pain and lessened the need for pain medication.

“Using MediMusic also means we could reduce the use of drugs in treating anxiety and pain in patients by up to a quarter.

“Dispensing music as medicine is going to revolutionise the treatment of people in pain and stress.”

Nurse Sheleen Armstrong the first person on the NHS trial of doctor and nurses

Nurse Sheleen Armstrong, 39, a sister working as part of the critical care outreach team, and the first person on the NHS trial of doctor and nurses (pictured) said: “I was really intrigued about seeing how music could help to ease stress. As you can imagine it’s been a very stressful time working in the NHS during Covid.

“It was very simple to use, though I was surprised by the tracks selected for me as I wouldn’t normally choose them.

“But after listening to the playlist, I felt so relaxed and de-stressed.

“I definitely believe there is a future in using these personalised playlists in helping to ease anxiety and pain in patients and staff.”

MediMusic is currently in the middle of a successful investment round but are still keen to talk to potential investors about this exciting medical advancement.

It’s also launched a crowdfunding campaign through the Indiegogo platform, to develop a new version of its music streaming device the MediBeat.  This device will stream the personalised music playlists to the patient via headphones.

To find out more about MediMusic go to www.medimusic.co.

Sample MediMusic playlist

Nurse Sheleen Armstrong’s playlist:

  1. Thank You – Dido
  2. Torn – Natalie Imbruglia
  3. Ocean Drive – Lighthouse Family
  4. Runaway – The Corrs
  5. Say What You Want – Texas

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