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Three Steps to Benefit from Telemedicine Technology


We’re living in a new world. Nothing about what has occurred since March 15, 2020 could have been predicted or planned for. The fitness industry has been negatively affected by the government mandated closures, and those clubs that come out of this and leverage the opportunities of the future will be stronger and more successful than they were pre-pandemic.

There is a new paradigm for two industries — specifically, healthcare and fitness, which happen to affect the same customer, albeit from different angles. Preparation, timing, reinvention and strategic partnerships will be essential to take advantage of these opportunities to their greatest extent.

Step 1. Understand that telemedicine coding is now available to clubs for reimbursement by insurance carriers. This is not a “thing of the future,” as Medicare and private insurance companies are already participating in this way. Telemedicine technology is a more cost-effective and efficient way of communicating. During the COVID-19 pandemic closures, savvy businesses across multiple industries pivoted to utilizing technology to continue doing business.

Through this, brands have learned this is the way of the future. Consumers have a new acceptance and tolerance for technology, and it’s reported that 17 million of them (47% new growth) will continue to communicate through technology in the future — a consumer trend reported by Kelton Global, a leading consumer insight and brand strategy company.

Step 2. Let go of the way you were doing business before and shift your mindset to take advantage of not only your customer’s new mindset, but also the priorities of the healthcare insurance industry and your role in it. Fitness clubs that can reimagine their clubs to be a true healthcare provider by integrating technology, utilizing telemedicine and virtual technology are blazing the trail toward the future of the fitness industry.

Implementing services such as physical therapy, aquatic therapy, and nutritional and chronic care management will become necessary with the strategic formulation of partnerships between the fitness and healthcare industries. And because of telemedicine technology, the outcomes of the healthcare patient/health club customer can easily be reported to the healthcare insurance industry in order to receive reimbursement.

In the future, it will be typical for clubs to be reimbursed for health risk assessments, therapeutic exercise, weight management, nutritional counseling, diabetes prevention programming education, and chronic care management. These healthcare services can be implemented in large mainstream clubs, multi-national fitness chains, and mid-range or even small personal boutique gyms.

Step 3 (the final step). Add a medical director and/or provide concierge medicine.  

It’s necessary to have a medical director to provide quality diagnostic care, and in doing so, fitness centers will be in a better position to share in the healthcare dollars.

Fitness clubs will become the new gatekeeper to the healthcare industry. Be a leader in the fitness industry and take back the power that was stripped from you by the government. Strengthen the foundation of your business by understanding the new paradigm and synergy between two industries, which is perfectly positioned to be a mutually beneficial endeavor.

In collaboration with Larry Furia of Shared Vision, LLC, Carolyn Fetters is the founder and CEO of Balanced Habits™, based in Southern California. She can be reached at carolyn@balancedhabits.com, 657.231.6779 or online.


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