Dexter 3L

Post 2 - Why Medical Fitness? The Future Will Demand It.

- Hervey Lavoie, F-MFA


Exercise is medicine.

The prevention of disease is a powerful idea whose time has come. Every week, at both national and local levels, there is media coverage highlighting the personal accountability that links diet, exercise and good health. Healthcare reform measures focus on the cost effectiveness of accountable care. Numerous best sellers explore the concept of exercise as medicine and focus attention on the importance of doctors concerning themselves with lifestyle problems and the potential of preventive medicine–in the form of exercise prescriptions and dietary guidelines-to prolong and enrich life.

What does the future hold? Just as the hospital of today is not complete without a full service pharmacy, the hospital of the future will not be complete without a medically supervised and professionally staffed Fitness/Wellness Center. Given the competition for capital dollars in most healthcare organizations, the arguments for hospitals to make this investment must be compelling…and they are! 

What about commercial fitness and public recreation? The private sector of commercial athletic clubs and fitness centers is not getting the job done. They all compete for the same 15% of the population that are pre-disposed to exercise - leaving the 85% who are most at risk to fend for themselves in a gravitational field that pulls strongly toward unhealthy lifestyles. The public sector of municipal and collegiate recreation centers are similarly ill-equipped to attract and serve this elusive 85%.

Doctors are doing the wrong job well...that is the treatment of disease, rather than the prevention of it. Medical schools don’t teach treatment of lifestyle problems, corporate interests are often linked to unhealthy commercial influences (such as the prevalence of fast food diets) and insurance companies won’t pay for many kinds of preventive “healthcare” interventions.

How do ACOs fit in? The emergence of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) has turned healthcare’s traditional “sick care” delivery model upside down. ACOs will be responsible for defined populations and paid on a per-capita basis. ACOs will be incentivized to keep their constituencies healthy and minimize their need for expensive medical interventions.

If hospitals won’t take the lead on this community healthcare challenge, who will?

Improved Outcomes.  Hard data is being developed globally by researchers as to how regular exercise reduces health care costs.  The findings are compelling.  It is clear that accountable care organizations (ACO's) of the future that choose to include fitness and wellness programming will out-perform ACO's that don't invest in these types of prevention programs.  

Up next time...Post 3 - Why Medical Fitness - The Benefits Are Compelling.