Health Club Relationship. Part 4

Alternative care — an additional benefit

As the American population expresses an expanding interest in alternative forms of health care, such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, therapeutic exercise, yoga, etc., hospital and health insurance companies are taking notice. One in three Americans use alternative forms of health care in lieu of traditional medicine, and consequently, hospitals are considering incorporating these services into their health plans. Now, the hospital is faced with finding experienced providers for these services, and since many health clubs offer alternative services such as yoga, tai chi, massage and nutrition counseling, they are attractive partners.

The contractual allowances and capitation of health insurance reimbursement for clinical care has resulted in inadequate payment to hospitals for services rendered, and has forced hospitals to become ingenious in the delivery of its health care to ensure financial survival. This has motivated hospitals to explore services that do not fall into the reimbursement domain and, possibly, ones for which they can receive compensation. Wellness/fitness services offer such an opportunity. They provide a quality, necessary service to the community and result in profitable revenues exempt from contractual deductions. In fact, prevention may be what sustains the financial viability of hospitals in the future, and may become the bright spot in the quagmire of health insurance reimbursements. Hospitals need to find financial stability somehow, and the quickest way may be partnerships with health clubs. Having working knowledge of the anatomy of a club/hospital relationship is the beginning of such success. FM

Jason Conviser, Ph.D., is president of JMC & Associates, a firm that specializes in consulting to the health/fitness club industry. He can be reached at 312 642-7222.

Positioning Your Health Club as a Community Health Resource

The health club/medical connection focuses on an important dimension of the health care continuum: wellness. A health club can become involved in this area by partnering with a variety of community health resources, or by simply concentrating on one type of wellness program. There are many ways to position your health club as a community fitness and wellness resource. The following eight steps are recommended to build successful relationships with health care providers like hospitals, and to transform your club’s strategic position:

1. Do some basic research into the current health care industry. Learn something about the principal trends and terms so that when you meet with doctors and hospital administrators, you can speak their language. For example, you’ll enhance your own and your club’s credibility if you’re familiar with acronyms such as PPO (Preferred Provider Organization), MCO (Managed Care Organization), HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) and IPA (Independent Physician’s Association). You’ll also need to know the concept of capitation, which predetermines the fee to be paid for services to all members of a medical plan. A health club participating in this arrangement would receive a flat fee to provide services to all participants. To define your partnership — along with pricing and strategy — you need to thoroughly understand these terms and concepts. You might start with industry magazines or a health care contact at your club to get up to speed.

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