Spread the Wellness: Design to Support Worker Health
You won’t get many arguments against the idea that a healthy staff makes for both healthier patients and a healthier bottom line. And today’s healthcare providers are working harder to stack the deck in favor of employee wellness. A robust 84% of medical facilities in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut reported some sort of wellness program or activity in place for its workers, according to a recent survey by Cammack LaRhette Consulting, a New York-based benefits consulting firm. Within the next 12 months, 5% more intend to establish such a plan.
The efforts include programs such as tobacco-cessation assistance, fitness and gym memberships, Weight Watchers at Work, and biometric screenings. Some facilities, like the Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, have installed entire fitness centers right on site for employee use.
Cleveland Clinic has a history of taking worker health very seriously; five years ago, the health system stopped hiring smokers, and then removed sugared drinks from its campuses. In February 2012, employee insurance premiums went up 21%—but employees were told they could get a portion of that refunded if they signed up for the institution’s “Healthy Choice” wellness program and met certain doctor-recommended goals.
The Clinic’s policies have met with some criticism (is it punitive toward overweight employees or those with chronic illnesses?). But in an interview with FierceHealthcare.com in mid-August, Chief Wellness Officer Michael Roizen reflected on the Clinic’s past five years’ worth of health initiatives and offered some statistics. “More than 50% of those with chronic diseases are now in a disease-management program, as opposed to the national average of less than 15%,” he said. “Together, employees have lost around a little over 330,000 pounds. The usage of the fitness clubs has gone up from about 2,500 hours a month to 25,000.”
Data on the benefits—to everyone—of healthier employees are well reported. HEALTHCARE DESIGN columnist Janet Brown shared a number of employee wellness statistics relating to our industry in “Wellness and Sustainability: New Best Friends.” Fitness centers and ergonomically designed furniture and casegoods are just a couple of the ways designers and architects address employee wellness in healthcare settings today. What’s next on the horizon?