The Physician Referral Pathway


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Cary Wing, EdD and Fitmarc's Director of Business Development for Medical Fitness, explains how a physician's referral can connect patients-potential members-with fitness facilities.

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The Physician Referral Pathway

  1. 1. The Physician Referral Pathway 1 Overview : The Exercise is Medicine (EIM) initiative launched in 2007 calls on healthcare providers to assess and review every patient’s physical activity program at every visit. Since its inception, EIM has received continued support and promotion throughout the fitness industry. The Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2011 identifies physician referrals as 10 th on the Top 20 list. Physician referrals can connect patients--your potential members--with facilities and fitness professionals in the community. Individuals are More Likely to Exercise When Physicians Use the Prescription Pad to Order Physical Activity How can facility owners and managers position their business to include the physician referral pathway? In this overview, we will examine the opportunity structured physician referral programs (SPRP) offer facilities, the development challenges, important tips for success, and expectations to grow revenue as a result of a well-designed and implemented physician referral program. March 2011 Cary Wing, EdD – [email_address] Medical Fitness Consultant and Expert for Fitmarc
  2. 2. The Opportunity 2 <ul><li>Opportunity : Establishing relationships with physicians enhances a facility’s credibility in the community and increases opportunities to expand the membership base and improve member retention. Growing revenue through the creation of a seamless bridge from medicine to wellness is an untapped market today. Opportunities include: </li></ul><ul><li>Providing a resource for preventative care </li></ul><ul><li>Developing specialized programs such as arthritis and diabetes education </li></ul><ul><li>Tapping into the active aging market </li></ul><ul><li>Building a continuum of care with all healthcare professionals </li></ul>Facilities Should Use the Power of the Physician to Grow Services Through a Structured Physician Referral Program 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 proper design, development and marketing of a structured physician referral program (SPRP). March 2011 Cary Wing, EdD – [email_address] Medical Fitness Consultant and Expert for Fitmarc
  3. 3. The Challenges 3 The Challenges: There are several components necessary to implement a physician referral program that may create challenges for the facility. Many of these are included in the Medical Fitness Association’s standards and guidelines for medical fitness centers. Qualified Staff : Exercise physiologists and other certified fitness professionals should oversee the program. They have the expertise to interact safely and effectively with the patient and communicate appropriately with the physician. Health Risk Assessments (HRAs ): A comprehensive HRA identifies the client’s risk factors and baseline fitness level. The information must be used to develop the exercise plan. Qualified Staff, Health Risk Assessments, and Measuring Outcomes are Key Components for Success Outcome Measurements : Pre- and post-program metrics must be measured to ensure individual and program success, as well as provide benchmarks for program improvement. If these basic components are not included, physicians will hesitate to refer their patients to your facility. And the bottom line is, they probably will not. Implement, and test, the required guidelines before marketing the program to physicians. March 2011 Cary Wing, EdD – [email_address] Medical Fitness Consultant and Expert for Fitmarc
  4. 4. Important Tips 4 <ul><li>The Tools: Physician offices are busy, and, even with modern technology, it is a challenge to manage the daily activity of the practice and patients. A fitness facility should provide a physician with the tools for easy implementation of the SPRP. A well-designed platform insures long-term success. Once physicians are engaged and understand the benefits for patients, they become champions of your facility. A facility should provide: </li></ul><ul><li>Prescription pads with logos </li></ul><ul><li>Patient education materials </li></ul><ul><li>Program protocols and a business plan for success </li></ul>The Fitness Facility Should Seek Tools and Resources for Long-Term Success Enlisting the aid of a company experienced in the design and implementation of a SPRP can save valuable staff time. A company that understands the physician market, and the referral process, can provide online management resources, marketing materials, consulting support and solutions for success when starting a program. March 2011 Cary Wing, EdD – [email_address] Medical Fitness Consultant and Expert for Fitmarc
  5. 5. Conclusions 5 Recap : A physician referral program is a mechanism to improve the success of your business. The emphasis on increasing physical activity and preventing disease encourages all facilities to evaluate staff, programs and services to determine the ability to provide a continuum of care for the healthcare community. With proper planning and resources, a facility should see significant growth in both membership and revenue. As one facility recently reported, 40% of their physician referrals in 2010 converted to full annual paying memberships. A Physician Referral Program Is a Unique Opportunity to Expand Your Facility and Your Business Physicians will prescribe exercise. The fitness industry just needs to provide the pathway and the appropriate tools to do so. March 2011 Cary Wing, EdD – [email_address] Medical Fitness Consultant and Expert for Fitmarc
  6. 6. About Us 6 About Us : Fitmarc serves hundred of fitness facilities and thousands of fitness professionals through the delivery of programs, solutions, consulting and education. Our team of experts can deliver real world answers to your facility’s biggest challenges. Looking to improve operating results at your fitness facility? We can help. To Learn More: Visit our website at Follow Fitmarc on Twitter Like Fitmarc on Facebook Call Fitmarc at 800-814-1207 I am here to be your resource and help you achieve greater success. As the Director of Business Development for Medical Fitness for Fitmarc, I have years of experience working in the medical fitness industry, developing the medical fitness model, and uniting fitness and healthcare. Let’s connect so that I can be a resource and partner for you and your organization. March 2011 Cary Wing, EdD – [email_address] Medical Fitness Consultant and Expert for Fitmarc