Tag Archives: #pcsm

What Can Healthcare Learn From Casinos & Gaming Industry?

This week during the #HCLDR tweet chat (complete transcript here) the topic focused on gambling, seniors, and public health. In fact, the very first question was as follows: @PracticalWisdom T1: Do you see gambling as a public health concern? #HCLDR

The dialogue of the conversation went down a natural progression. However, it did make me begin to think about the situation slightly differently. When Marie Ennis-O’Connor (@JBBC) made the quoted the following statement, ““It removed me from reality. I was anonymous. I could lose track of time.” Lonely seniors go gambling.” The light bulb went off.

Instead of focusing on the bad aspects of casino’s, gambling, and potentially taking advantage of elderly populations, is there lessons that can be gained from casino’s?

Why do people go? Are there things that naturally occur within the casino industry that make it appealing? What can healthcare learn from casino’s?

I recall going to a casino and remembering they way they greeted me. I was met with a smile, someone asking me my name, and then asking me if I needed anything. It made me feel important, cared about, and that my needs would be met.

The last time I went to see my physician, I was met with, “Why are you here and what time is your appointment?” Followed by the, “Can I see your insurance card and here is some paper work to fill out. Please sit down and bring it back when completed.” No smile, no first and last name greeting, no thank you.

Perhaps a bit more focus on my name versus my medical record number and insurance policy number and I may enjoy my experience a bit more???

If there is a population of people that frequent a casino, such an elderly population, or perhaps even an at risk population, then is there an opportunity for healthcare to go out and meet them where they congregate?

I mean if WalMart, Shopko, Target, CVS, Walgreens, and other retails sites have clinics, why not a casino? Why not have a rewards program that combines the money you spend at the casino (which they already have) and have them give you a 3-5% bonus if you walk 10K steps, 5 days a week? Or if you join a gym and workout 3 days a week? Why can’t we place educational information at the one arm bandits? (Slot machines)

I notice a lot of group outings that combine church groups, senior centers, or other community outings in which a bus will pick up and drop off a group of people for a day at the casino. Is there a reason we can’t make a hospital or a clinic a bit more fun to have people congregate for the day and have a slice of healthy and wellness too? Could the cafeteria’s go gourmet and employee a culinary expert to make people living in the community want to go there and eat?

Could the gift shops become Hallmarks? Could you place a smaller version of a WalMart or a Target inside of a hospital?

The lights, the interaction, the free soda, the oxygen being pumped into the air, the temperature, the attention to the small details such as the comfort of the seating, the location of bathrooms, the carpeting versus the hard floors, the lack of clocks and forgetting about the amount of time one spends inside….are these all things that healthcare can adapt into their design?

Some of this may seem far fetched, yet when I was in Billings, MT one of the things we did was approach several Tribal Nations to help serve their populations with increasing access to education and screening on cancer. One of the things we needed to do to gain their buy-in was provide a symbolic gesture of offering to the Tribal Council, which is typically tobacco. Ironic, huh?

We want to discuss smoking cessation, but in order to do so, we needed to offer tobacco.

Well we did, we gained buy-in and creditability within the Tribal Council, and we developed on site specific programs that allowed us to meet their populations where they congregated, one of the most important sites, the casino. In a 6 month period of time, we increased overall screening for cancer risk by 45%. We maintained that increase over the time I was in Billings, MT and extended it to other parts of MT and WY.

We brought physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and educators to them. We brought the mobile screening mammography to their sites. We made packages for colorectal screening. We educated on smoking cessation, signs of lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, colorectal, and other cancers. We used their language, their images, and we met them in their location.

We made accessing healthcare simple, easy, and we made it personal.

We took their story, added a bit of healthcare to it, and in the end, we all won.

So we need to again ask ourselves, what can we learn from the stories of casinos?

As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek


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Christmas Shopping And Cancer

It is that time of year in which we all venture out for the perfect gift for a friend or loved one. I happened to be at a general/hardware store looking for a camping item for one of my friends, while playing dodge the fellow shopper to jingle bells being played overhead.

My mother asked for a few cooking and baking utensils, so I happened to venture down the aisle looking for the perfect fit to her wish list. I, like most men, walked around until I found the aisle that looks like it has a bunch of cooking items and began to walk aimlessly back and forth trying to find the magical Wilton pan.

I walked up and down the aisle 2 or 3 times, and then, out of the corner of my, to my surprise, there it is, not the magical Wilton Pan, but this:

photo 1

That’s right, a pressure cooker. Not just any pressure cooker, but one that was written in spanish, and supports breast cancer research and awareness.

It made me stop and think, “Would my mother love a pressure cooker that is written in spanish, probably because it makes wonderful spanish rice, and  supports breast cancer research?” I bet she would.

I then had another thought come to my mind. Why did they choose a pressure cooker? What does it have to do with breast cancer and research? Is it because most women wear a bra and they consider them to be pressure cookers for their breasts? Or is it that if I was a woman and wore a bra that they added pressure could lead to breast cancer? Or is it if I make food in this pot that I won’t get breast cancer?

What was the story that Presto was trying to convey?

So I then did what any normal “geek” would do, I began the hunt for more cancer related products.

This is what I found (remember I am in a general/hardware store):

photo 2

Water bottles!

photo 3Nail polish and stickers.

photo 4Designer bracelets and rings.

All focused on breast cancer.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think this is a huge accomplishment. We as a community of patients, providers, and advocates have made breast cancer relevant. We have banded together to make the stories a part of everyday conversation, of our common language, of our sharing with one another. It is not a bad thing to say you have breast cancer. It’s an everyday occurrence where we read, hear, or learn of someone within our circle being impacted by breast cancer.

This is a huge win.

Yet, I still question why hasn’t anyone been creative enough to market all of the other cancers as well? Why haven’t we made it part of the common language, the stories that we share with friends or over coffee? Why is there not an entire aisle dedicated to cancer related items?

I mean we could have air compressors that support lung cancer. Or perhaps washable markers, or invisible ink? Lung cancer, the cancer we don’t see. Maybe it is a line of glasses or contact lenses for lung cancer? A play on words.

Maybe for colorectal or anal cancer we could have toilet paper with daily messages on how to change our diets to help prevent colorectal cancer?

Perhaps for head and neck cancer we could have Kleenex or facial tissues to bring awareness? Every time you sneeze you impact a person with head and neck cancer?

What about walnuts for prostate cancer?

Or billiard tables with cue sticks and pool balls for testicular cancer awareness?

Hats, nail polish, shoes, shoe laces that change by month for each specific cancer and the respective months of awareness?

One could develop an entire food or clothing line for all cancers.

Heck, if we wanted, we could expand the conversation and ask why isn’t there a line of cutlery or silverware that are for surgeons? Will DaVinci cross promote a line for sushi? Or perhaps pharmaceuticals could cross brand molecular gastronomy products?

Okay, so perhaps I took this story a bit far, but I hope you get the point.

Breast cancer has done wonderful things for all of us impacted by any type of cancer. It has made it okay to say the word cancer. It has made the topic relevant and mainstream. It has given cancer a face and a voice.

It is now up to all of us that use the multiple #cancer hashtags to facilitate relevancy for the other cancers as well.

I hope next year I will be able to tell the story of buying everyone on my wish list an item that supports each specific cancer diagnosis. A story of bringing a Christmas smile to someone opening one of my presents, and a smile to a cancer patient or family that my money has gone to support.

As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek


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