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Physicians on Treadmills Diagnose with Accuracy, Says Mayo Doc

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 25, 2013

"I gave up my desk and chair to be in a study of treadmill desks," says Denise Dupras, MD, a Mayo general internist, "and now I'm walking or standing all the time."

Two years later, Dupras says, she continues to use the workstation for dictation, typing and phone calls in between seeing patients in the exam rooms nearby. And she's lost 35 pounds.

Even the former Mayo Clinic CEO Denis Cortese, MD, started using a Levine prototype a decade ago, "long before they were commercially available."

Now, as director of Healthcare Delivery and Policy Programs at Arizona State University, Cortese says, "I use it to do all computer work—e-mails, slides to read, and during phone calls. I can walk at 1.7 mph without having any problem typing," Above 1.8 or 1.9, he admits, there are typos.

"It's a great way to get steps in for your daily routine, it relieves stress and keeps phone calls short; you do not sit back and relax for the call," but get to the point. It's also helped his back. "All businesses with sedentary workers should allow employees to use them if they so chose," he says.

Levine notes that commercial applications are sprouting up, from high-end office furniture suppliers like Steelcase, whose units can run $4,000, and at discount stores like Target, where a walking desk setup costs $799.

"It's definitely taking off in the healthcare environment, and quite quickly, I'd say," says Levine. He's often asked to consult with organizations on all the pros and cons, and there are some of those, he acknowledges. It can take a bit longer to do some task while in motion.

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