Study Finds Healthcare Sector among Most Obese

In a seemingly ironic twist of circumstance, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported that the healthcare industry is among the top 10 most obese industries.

The data analyzed came from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey as well as self-reported personal statistics from employees. All healthcare workers are included in the overall “healthcare” sector, but a breakdown of health service employees versus practitioners indicates that the former are more at risk for obesity than the latter.

Researchers correlate risk for obesity in the job sectors listed to job factors such as stress, long hours, and working conditions that minimize movement and activity. In that respect, healthcare practitioners such as doctors and nurses benefit from time spent on their feet going between patients.

Long hours and shift work can make it difficult for workers to fit exercise into their schedule or to prepare and eat healthy, balanced meals – after all, a trip through the drive-thru is faster and less labor-intensive, thus more appealing to an employee coming off of (or heading into) a 12-hour shift. Also at issue are differences in pay that can prevent some workers from choosing healthier options.

One possible contributor to obesity in the healthcare setting that is not discussed, but that has interesting implications, is a shift toward banning smoking by healthcare employees. Healthcare employees who quit smoking may compensate by eating more, either to fill the time or because of the lack of cigarettes’ appetite suppressant effect.

Obesity can be a significant contributor to health care costs. With that in mind, understanding the prevalence of obesity in the healthcare industry – as well as its causes – can help healthcare employers adapt their working conditions and employee benefits to promote healthier lifestyles. For example, a hospital may offer free or subsidized memberships to gyms or weight-loss programs, or tie the achievement of health goals to lower premiums.

PRN Funding offers invoice factoring to the healthcare industry, which can improve your cash flow and allow you to invest in your employees’ health. Contact PRN Funding to learn more about your healthcare factoring options and to fill out an application today!

5 Ways the Healthcare Industry Benefits from Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is not just for businesses looking to expand their reach and reputation – the healthcare industry can also benefit from utilizing social media. Here are 5 ways that healthcare providers and service organizations can benefit from social media marketing:

1. Patient education and outreach
Posting information about seasonal sicknesses, ways to stay healthy, and other pertinent health information is a great way to stay connected to patients or connect with potential ones. Chicago’s Sherman Health, a multi-hospital system, even worked with Demi & Cooper Advertising in Illinois to tweet a live surgery. “Twitter is an amazing platform if you look at it as we do. We see Twitter as a multi-device real-time messaging system. Sharing information from an OR is not a new idea. Twitter is a perfect medium for distributing information from an OR because it allows time for messages to be worded correctly. We were looking for new ways to help Sherman connect with their community, to provide information, and help people become more familiar with the hospital. We found that Tweeting the surgery was an excellent way to help potential surgical candidates become more comfortable with Sherman,” said associate creative director Marc Battaglia.

2. Patients participate in their own care
A recent study found that patients who are regularly online are more likely to accept patient-centered care and take part in their own care.
“When medical professionals attempt to gauge how much information to provide patients or try to decide how much they should involve patients in medical decision-making, they may be better off if they base their decisions on patients’ Internet use frequency rather than age, per se,” said the researchers from the University of Texas, the University of Florida and the University of Maryland.

3. Feedback and improvement
Social media allows your hospital to monitor what its patients are saying, which will let you identify issues and problems and give it the opportunity to improve. Facebook and Twitter have also become outlets for people to vent, so a hospital can identify patient frustrations and determine how to best solve patients’ problems with their care or service.

4. Patient interaction
With social media sites, patients are able to post questions for doctors and staff to get answers or advice quickly. This interactive method makes more sense than the patient scheduling an appointment to ask a question or wait on the phone for someone to be able to answer.

5. Building your healthcare organization’s reputation
Potential patients looking up your facility will look online to see what others are saying about your institution and services. It’s imperative to take control over your online presence. Responding to both negative and positive concerns proves that your organization is dedicated to serving the needs of patients. It’s better to proactively manage your online reputation than let it run rampant across social web.

“Social media isn’t going to go away, and ignoring it isn’t really a viable option. The best way to manage your reputation online is to participate,” said Battaglia. “Ignoring it is a short-lived strategy. Hospitals and healthcare facilities need to become involved and present helpful, safe, and accurate information.”