‘SingFit’ is a revolutionary award-winning digital health platform and music app designed to improve wellbeing. Developed by Musical Health Technologies, an innovative health technology company based in Los Angeles, California, the novel technology platform dramatically expands the ability of people to access the proven benefits of therapeutic music to improve their health.
The use of music as a healthcare tool is supported by medical science. Studies have shown that regular singing is effective for improving speech and enhancing cognitive functioning as well as mental wellbeing. Research has also demonstrated that while passive music listening provides some therapeutic benefits for people with dementia, active singing produces better results in terms of improvements in memory, cognition, and mood.
SingFit innovatively combines technology with evidenced-based therapies to enable the mass distribution of music as medicine for the first time in history. The technology applies prescribed singing as a scientifically supported way to connect with seniors and encourage engagement for those with cognitive decline. It has been developed to provide a cost-effective, best-in-class treatment to help successfully tackle many of today’s most pressing healthcare problems, including dementia, depression and social isolation.
SingFit solutions are currently in use at over 500 long-term care facilities across the US. Through support from the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) Propel@YH Boot Camp accelerator, the technology is now set to be launched in the UK, with the AHSN supporting Musical Health Technologies with adoption and spread.
Why the UK?
Therapeutic music as an intervention for a variety of conditions including dementia and depression is now considered a best practice in the UK – meaning market readiness is on a much larger scale than it is in the US. As opposed to the fee-for-service US healthcare system, the NHS is also more incentivised by the provision of cost-effective treatments that can provide better care for more people at a lower cost. Another key benefit that drew SingFit to the UK is the culture of collaboration that underpins the NHS, with organisations such as the AHSN Network working to champion the adoption of proven digital technologies that can improve health outcomes. While this makes the UK an attractive destination for start-ups such as SingFit, there are several differences between the US and UK healthcare models, making the need to understand and navigate these challenges a complex process.
How has the AHSN been involved?
In 2022, the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN launched the first-ever Propel@YH International Boot Camp accelerator, supported by the Department of International Trade, Barclays Eagle Labs, Nexus and the University of Leeds, Hill Dickinson, and Leeds City Council.
The week-long intensive programme supports international innovators who want to bring their products to the UK healthcare market. SingFit was amongst the five successful US-based SMEs selected to take part in the first cohort of the programme.
Along with other participants, the programme provided the company with five days of intensive support through a range of masterclasses, workshops and networking events, helping to develop their understanding of NHS government, finance and procurement frameworks, and clinical safety and supplier regulations. The programme also introduced them to key stakeholders, connecting them with the right support to evaluate the value of their technology and suitability for the UK market.
Impacts and outcomes of the AHSN support
The Propel@YH International Boot Camp was instrumental in brokering the relationships and introductions necessary to support the adoption and launch of the SingFit in the UK.
As well as helping the company to understand the needs of the NHS and navigation of the market, the AHSN team helped to introduce SingFit to pilot partners and service providers, along with connecting them with key stakeholders such as the Organisation for the Review of Health and Care Apps (ORCHA). This has enabled the company to find the right assistance needed to evaluate their technology, with ORCHA supporting the company to conduct an independent assessment of the economic, health and social outcomes of SingFit. These introductions have been valuable in supporting SingFit to assess the viability of the UK as a new target market and critically to provide the evidence needed to demonstrate the efficacy and positive user experiences for people using the SingFit app.
The AHSN team has further supported the company to access advice regarding regulatory approval, while helping them to define and articulate their value proposition to key stakeholders and supporting them with the knowledge needed to successfully partner with the NHS.
The AHSN is now supporting SingFit with adoption and spread, helping them with piloting their technology and appropriate evaluation prior to their UK launch.
SingFit will be attending the Leeds Digital Festival in September to officially announce its UK launch.. There are currently three SingFit products that will be launching in the UK market: SingFit Pro for rehab therapists, SingFit Caregiver for unpaid and paid carers, and SingFit TV, which can be used in a variety of settings and configurations.
The company has taken several steps already to enter the UK market, including securing music publishing rights, working with ORCHA to evaluate the SingFit Digital Health platform in order to prepare for Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) assessment, and joining Nexus Leeds, where they will be establishing their home base in the UK.
Where is SingFit now?
Since we last spoke to Rachel Francine, CEO of Musical Health Technologies, the company is now fully registered in the UK and they have a pilot project underway with the Royal College of Occupational Therapists.
Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) project
The primary purpose of the RCOT project is for SingFit to assess the feasibility and acceptability of SingFit STUDIO Pro in a UK therapy setting. The project will be conducted at The Mount over the course of three months with seven occupational therapists/assistants from RCOT. The therapists will use SingFit STUDIO as part of their routine intervention with residents diagnosed with dementia (roughly twice a week) and will provide feedback through surveys and semi-structured interviews about their experience.
The speed of our UK launch was really fuelled by the information that we gathered at the Yorkshire AHSN International Boot Camp. The AHSN brought together the players with the knowledge that allowed our team to very quickly assess how long it would take to launch SingFit solutions in the UK and the resources it would take to do so. This knowledge, along with the introductions they made significantly compressed the amount of time and energy it took to assess that the SingFit platform and UK health system are highly aligned in terms of product market fit. After the Bootcamp, the AHSN has continued, help us, strategically and tactically, to bring SingFit’s therapeutic music solutions to UK.