Medical-Referral Program Successes. Part 6

Bally Total Fitness
Train to Attain, MedWell and FitConsult International are all examples of independent facilities that have successful medical-referral programs. But if your facility is part of a chain, you can still implement a medical-referral program. One such example is Bally Total Fitness, which began offering medical fitness programs in its clubs in 1998 to provide clients with a natural extension to its health club services.

Bally’s currently has 61 sports medicine clinics in the U.S. and Canada, with another 31 clinics in development. And rather than offering a national medical-fitness program in its facilities, Bally’s customizes each program to its location. It does this by developing partnership programs with medical-fitness centers in the region, and providing facility space for providers to treat medical-referral clients. “[We] try to align ourselves so that we have the benefit of the [provider’s] good work and brand of identification … to let [clients] know that we’re not providing the service, we’re providing the environment,” says Jason Conviser, vice president of clinical services for Bally Total Fitness. For example, “In Washington state, the best therapeutic services are at Therapeutic Associates, so we call our program ‘Therapeutic Associates at Bally Total Fitness.’”

Both Bally’s and the providers are responsible for marketing the program’s services to clients, and both have the advantage of offering clients the opportunity to receive not only physical therapy services, but health club services as well. The types of services offered in the clinics all depend on the specialties of the providers, and Bally’s requires that all providers be board-certified, licensed by the state and carry the appropriate insurance.

Clients have the advantage of receiving medical fitness services from providers, and are able to use Bally’s exercise equipment, programs and other services. In addition, clients who complete their therapy receive a 30-day membership to Bally Total Fitness, which allows clients to make the transition from post-rehab care to fitness training all in the same facility. Conviser believes that offering healthcare services in a health club environment provides the medical community with a cost-effective outlet to provide medical fitness services to clients, while boosting Bally’s membership sales and its image to the community. “As the clinical part of the business has had difficulties with expenses, offerings and competition, it’s just now starting to make sense that healthcare and health clubs [be placed] in the same environment,” says Conviser. “We’re providing the services to enhance the membership experience and gain more credibility as a health club.”

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