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Medical Fitness

Is Your Club Part of the "Trend" ?

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Dr. Cary WingDr. Cary Wing

Since the Exercise is Medicine (EIM) initiative was launched in 2007 by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), there has been increased exposure for the medical fitness model. A key component of the model is the physician referral pathway and a physician's involvement in an individual's continuum of care or circle of health.

The results of a national benchmark survey conducted in September, 2011 indicate that fitness centers do not fully realize the potential of the medical fitness model, and specifically, the potential of physician referral programs (PRPs). The goal of the survey was to determine national benchmarks relative to the growth and development of PRPs within fitness facilities. The results and information are particularly timely due to the recent release of the ACSM Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2012 that once again identifies physician referrals on the Top 20 list. "This is a trend toward an emergent emphasis being placed on partnerships with the medical community, resulting in seamless referrals to a health and fitness facility and health fitness professionals," according to the ACSM survey article. However, incorporating the medical fitness model into programs and services and reaping the benefits, continues to be a struggle for health clubs.

Why Incorporate the Medical Fitness Model?

The United States economy continues to struggle to rebound, and the potential for a strong recovery in 2012 remains uncertain. So, what is your club doing to increase revenue and position itself to operate in this environment? Developing Physician Referral Programs (PRPs) and creating a medical fitness circle of health can open doors for fitness facilities in this economy and in the future. Physician referrals can connect patients, potential members, with facilities and fitness professionals in the community. Physicians want to refer their de-conditioned or at-risk patients to local facilities as a pathway for the patient to implement an exercise prescription. Physicians will write referrals once they have first-hand knowledge of the standard of care and support a patient receives. Facilities can fill this need through development of a medical fitness model and the proper design, development and marketing of a PRP. A facility should see significant growth in both membership and revenue after implementation of a program. Physicians will prescribe exercise.

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