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Physicians on Treadmills Diagnose with Accuracy, Says Mayo Doc

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 25, 2013

I read and respond to e-mail, study journal articles, listen to conference calls and transcribe recorded interviews while walking in place. Though phone conversations prove problematic because of the annoying motor noise, I'm told that higher-end, quieter machines would resolve that issue.

Best part: I no longer sit 10 hours a day, have lots more energy, and let's just say my legs have had a makeover.

Gabriel Koepp, Levine's colleague at the Mayo Endocrine Research Unit, says treadmill desks can be used by anyone who sits in an office, as long as there's a power supply and space. For healthcare settings, that means call centers, marketing departments, administrators, finance teams, or even clinicians who spend 15 minutes every hour typing into an electronic medical record.

For healthcare providers who worry they'll be even more exhausted at day's end, the opposite is true, Levine says.

"People said, 'Look, if I'm walking all day at work, I'm going to be exhausted when I get home and just want to go to bed.' But the opposite has happened. I come home and am energized." Levine describes a more nerdy concept in physics he calls "non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT. "NEAT begats more NEAT," he says.

Nerdiness aside, Levine urges healthcare providers to take a step back, no pun intended, and think. "This is about quality, the quality of our lives as health professionals too. That's so often overlooked. Even the American Medical Association has big concerns about the health and well-being of people in the medical profession."


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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