On this episode of Telehealth Heroes, we talk with the founder of Healing Healthcare Systems, Dr. Susan Mazer. She explains the importance of hospital ambience and recounts the history and evolution of the C.A.R.E. Channel, a private television program currently used in over a thousand hospitals and clinics.
Susan Mazer, PhD, is one of the cofounders of Healing Healthcare Systems, the organization that developed the C.A.R.E. Channel. C.A.R.E. is an acronym for “continuous ambient relaxation environment,” and it began in the 1980’s as a television program that combined soft ambient music with nature scenes. Around that time, important research had come out on the impact of hospital design, and Dr. Mazer referenced an article written by Dr. Roger Ulrich in 1984 that showed that patients who had views of nature outside their windows had shorter hospital stays and better outcomes than patients who had no natural views.
Dr. Mazer and her husband, Dallas Smith, were professional musicians, and wanted to create a healing environment for hospital patients based on Dr. Ulrich’s research. As musicians, they knew music had transformative healing power, so they wanted to discover a way to deliver comforting music to hospital patients. “It began when a nurse asked us, ‘what can I do for my patients at three in the morning when I’m not there?’”
Dr. Mazer quickly realized that the television was the common piece of technology in every room, so they began preparing a television program that could deliver music for 24 hours a day. The first tracks created for the C.A.R.E. Channel were original songs composed and performed by Dr. Mazer and Dallas Smith. They combined those songs with relaxed natural images to complete the program.
The C.A.R.E. Channel is now a widespread phenomenon in the hospital industry. Over time, it’s evolved to include works from many other musicians, always hand-selected by Dr. Mazer and Smith. Their photography team travels the world to find the best places to include in the programming. And, more recently, the C.A.R.E. Channel has expanded to include other formats.
There are now many different ways to consume the C.A.R.E. Channel outside of the hospital environment. They’ve even begun a virtual reality version of the program. If you’d like to learn more, check out some of the links below.