Ask an Expert on Medical Fitness
You have questions, we have answers. This month we spoke with Debra Siena, the president of Midtown Health, about evolutions in medical fitness.
In the past you’ve mentioned that commercial clubs might be oversimplifying what getting involved with medical fitness means. Do you still feel that way?
DS: It’s challenging for a commercial health club and a non-for-profit health system to align goals, practices and payments to create a win-win scenario. Health systems are not interested in a health club that is only presenting a membership promotion disguised in a lab coat.
How can commercial clubs make sure they’re making informed decisions when it comes to entering the medical fitness space?
DS: Commercial clubs need to consider the full commitment it takes to successfully partner with a health system. Questions to ask include; How can we best integrate into the health system’s continuum of care? Does our staff have the qualifications and experience to deliver programs for at risk populations? How would these medical programs integrate in our current schedule? Do we need to make any changes to our facilities to better accommodate a deconditioned population? What affect, if any, will the medical integration initiatives have on our current membership base?
Partnering with a hospital can be a challenge for clubs. Do you have any tips for how they can overcome that challenge?
DS: The most important aspect of a successful partnership is to understand the health system’s needs. Are they looking for a pre weight loss program for bariatric surgery candidates or a cardiac rehab Phase 4 location?
One of the most collaborative opportunities for a health club are patients diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, but have yet to reach a disease state. Since 35 percent of the American population is in this condition, chances are programs for these patients would also be very beneficial for club members as well. Midtown Health offers an ongoing Wellness Discovery Program that combines movement, healthy eating choices and balance tips in a group setting. It’s been very successful for physicians to refer their patient for everything from being pre diabetic to having high blood pressure. The result data given back to the physicians is impressive. This communication loop is imperative for a program to be sustainable.
Despite challenges, are there benefits to implementing medical fitness?
DS: Absolutely. It’s incredibly rewarding to be a part of improving someone’s quality of life. After all, that is why we are in this industry to begin with.
From your dual seat as a leader for Midtown Health and Midtown Athletic Clubs, what else can you tell other operators about medical fitness?
DS: All of us are in the health and wellbeing business. We have the opportunity to change people’s lives every day. The more lives we can touch, the more we fill our mission. Each club operator needs to determine what population they are fully dedicated to and equipped to serve, then do it the very best they can.