PART 3: Technology
Author: Imen Maaroufi

“Everything is designed. Few things are designed well.”
—Brian Reed

This section ties together Music, Motion and Technology. In October 2018, the Berklee College of Music hosted an event entitled “Music and Health Exchange: Crossroads of Music and Technology”6, where I had the pleasure of giving a presentation along with Point Motion’s CEO and founder Kevin Clark.

To store data accurately and to capture the status of a patient over time, health centers use what is called EHR/EMR, or Electronic Health Record and Electronic Medical Record. The EMR began as a method to trace and document any patient’s medical records and conditions combined with third-party accessibility. The first EMR system was developed in 1972, but was not considered greatly sophisticated, and was used mostly by government hospitals. To clarify the difference between EMR and EHR, EMR gives a snapshot of the medical records of a patient, while EHR provides a snapshot of their overall health condition. Comparatively, they are very similar and complementary, as the idea came from the same concept and the general need to track data in real time and access it from a single point. Using the example of an autistic child who has been receiving music therapy while changing medications or even dosage through the treatment, the EHR allows his therapist to trace the change in behavior back to what could have potentially caused it. EPIC-Health, for example, is an EHR with document management systems that health institutions commonly use.

Similarly, in education, schools use an LMS, or Learning Management System, where they can track, record, and document the delivery of course materials. Derived from the same technology as the EHR, we find the UnitusTI—known as an EDR (Electronic Data Records) Platform—a program/curricula/material management system with publishing, specialized data acquisition structures and psychometrics. UnitusTI caters to the treatment, education and training fields, hence the use of the word “data” is neutral.

What benefit is technology if it does not help humans’ work become more efficient? The advantage of digital technology lies in the power of data to provide deeper insights, along with the ability to undertake a more comprehensive tracking of trends and patterns which can in turn be used to build an effective personalized treatment approach.

One of the drawbacks of Electronic Records is that even though it remedies the loss of data and allows health/education staff to make an informed decision of what their patient/student needs, it still requires manual data entry. Point Motion Inc., an innovative digital health / therapeutics company led by C-Level executives who graduated from Berklee College of Music, was able to connect the dots using their musical expertise and through partnering with subject matter experts (SMEs) and EDR platforms. Point Motion’s patented technology works through a camera and series of body movements to capture and activate musical filters, sounds and effects. Their aim is to use a musically-enriching experience as a therapy for children with special needs and individuals with Parkinson’s. These individuals can play a computer-based game through body movement, while data is collected from their interactions and sent to an EDR platform to help their therapist make informed decisions. This combination of Music, Motion, and Technology, that enables the patient to experience music in their therapy sessions, encourages patient expression through motion and allows their therapist to access real time data and information via a Cloud-based platform. In this way Music Therapists are able to track their patient’s progress using metrics such as focus, range of motion, mobility, expression, and more.

Researchers have talked about the new opportunities provided by the development of technology to introduce novel approaches for the interaction of music and sound to individuals with autism.7 Through engaging on a cognitive and multi-sensory level via technology-based therapy that is free from social constraints and complex core communication, this method provides a consistent and objective outcome. As a result, we observe sustained interest and increased mastery while maintaining high engagement and motivation. This is not to eliminate the role of the therapist or the importance of human interaction that brings empathy and care in different ways, but to facilitate using therapies and optimizing outcomes for the benefit of the patient/student. The technology permits the establishment of a non-threatening and unbiased environment in which individuals can develop new skills and overcome potential fears and discomfort.

6 Find Kevin Clark’s talk on Quantifying the Impact of Music in Child Development:
7 Innovative computer technology in music-based interventions for individuals with autism moving beyond traditional interactive music therapy techniques (2018, November 30).