“Practice what you preach” is often a common phrase used to describe how to act ethically. Healthcare is an industry that ethics should be held sacred, and applied to all actions. Therefore, to encourage patients to follow the recommendations and guidelines requested by physicians, it is important that the staff also follow suggested guidelines for healthy living. After all, would you hire a personal trainer that is out of shape and obese, getting short of breathe as he demonstrates the exercises? I know I would not hire a trainer that did not appear to be in excellent shape. Similarly, would you hire a tutor for your child that did not get a degree? I would guess not, that is why it is very important that the staff and physicians maintain good health and stay physically active.

How does a healthcare organization improve the health of its physicians and staff without putting strict requirements? One idea is to use a discount system for the healthcare benefits based on the overall health and fitness level of the employee. An organization I am familiar with uses this technique and it has pushed many employees to improve their overall health by increasing exercise, improving diets, and reducing the amount of employees that smoke. These outcomes were all part of the improved employee health initiatives below.

Exercise, Nutrition and Diet classes offered on campus

There were exercise, nutrition, and diet classes offered on campus that explained the importance of each element to the employees. The nutrition and diet classes included healthy cooking courses which improved the likelihood that employees would use these learned techniques. Additional exercise classes located on or nearby campus provided easy access to exercise in a non-invasive environment. There was positive reception to each of these initiatives.

Discount Program

The discount program for health benefits allows employees to retain money for health insurance as long as they meet the specified criteria. Non-smoking status or smoking cessation programs were part of this program and improved health for employees and the community. Additionally, employees must register for the discount program annually, requiring employees to receive a health screening for registration. Annual checkups are a way to monitor the health of the employees and facilitate ownership of their health outcomes.

Overall employee health is good for the company because it reduces the expenses the organization incurs for occupational health items and fosters a community of good health. The patient experience is improved when they perceive the staff they interact with as healthy. I challenge you to change a process in your routine this week to improve health, whether it is adding exercise, improving diet, or smoking cessation.