(Editor's Note: This sponsored article is part of the Club Industry report, "The Future of Fitness Is in Healthcare Integration," which can be downloaded for free by going here.)
As we emerge from this pandemic and continue to evolve the “new normal” for businesses, embracing technology is and will be important for the fitness and healthcare industries. Whether it’s creating operational efficiencies, increasing memberships or providing new revenue channels for brick-and-mortar businesses, the new normal depends upon technology and collaboration between organizations.
Business models have evolved, especially in the fitness and health insurance industries, creating the necessity for collaboration. Cohesive interactions to provide interoperability, operational efficiencies and seamless member experiences have become imperative for health clubs and reimbursement programs. Due to technological advancements in the collection of health data, health insurance rewards and reimbursement programs are requiring more data to be provided in order to better track the health of members and to reduce fraud.
Ultimately, programs will not accept manual entry of members’ information from health clubs and will require organizations to utilize systems that allow for seamless integration with their systems. This evolution will not only allow programs to receive accurate data, but it will allow health clubs to easily participate in multiple programs allowing significant increases in revenue and member participation at their facilities. In addition to participation in brick-and-mortar programs, health clubs will be able to be rewarded for their members exercising outside of their four walls, which will create additional revenue channels as well as provide lower impact to revenues due to shutdowns (whether from a pandemic or simple construction).
For club operators, even though these programs create additional revenues and an increase in health club memberships, there is an operational demand associated with participation. Along with the current participation requirements, many programs, with advances in technology that provide access to additional data sources, will evolve to require multi-point verification before providing rewards to members and reimbursements to health clubs. That means, eventually, it will not be enough to just show that a member checked in to a health club; there will need to be evidence—secondary validation—that the member engaged in exercise that either created an elevation in heart rate or provided a validated workout summary. These advancements in validation requirements by programs will further the importance to embrace technological advances in order to continue participation and maximize revenue opportunities. With the implementation of automation technology, it will virtually eliminate the administrative expenses and operational demands for the fitness center. Furthermore, technological solutions can merge collected data from other engagement channels (such as digitally streamed workouts) and provide a single consolidated report to programs (insurance, corporate, etc.), rewarding health clubs financially. These efficiencies provide operators with the ability to focus on member health, safety and satisfaction while still being able to increase participation in more than one program that provides additional revenues.
As we enter this new era of business, a holistic, unified and collaborative approach to member engagement—paired with advanced technology—will be a requirement for businesses to maximize revenue opportunities available through insurance companies and other member programs. Together, we have an opportunity to embrace the change and be the solution that benefits and values everyone who touches the fitness industry: health clubs, members, equipment vendors and reimbursement programs. Although our industry, amongst so many others, has experienced painful change, the pandemic has created a unity and undeniable collaborative “togetherness” within the fitness industry and has accelerated the need for us to work with each other not as competitors but in unison and in harmony. In both the short-term and long-term, this inspiring business approach will be a benefit to everyone who embraces this new norm.
Matthew Schober is co-founder and COO of Concierge Health. He has more than 20 years in the fitness industry as an operator, entrepreneur and driven innovator, which has allowed him to bridge the gaps between, and create operational efficiencies within, the fitness and wellness industries. Concierge Health provides engagement solutions that drive member activation to reduce healthcare costs, improve outcomes, and enhance member experiences. Concierge Health takes a holistic approach to an individual's healthy lifestyle bringing in data anywhere and from everywhere. The technology provides a comprehensive view of an individual's wellness data, enabling better insights, better decisions reward/reimbursement opportunities.