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MEDICAL FITNESS CENTERS: A Strategy for Hospitals to Thrive Under Health Care Reform—But Where Can We Find Capital?

Nadel, Mark A. FACHE

doi: 10.1249/FIT.0b013e318229cc71

LEARNING OBJECTIVE Health and fitness professionals are well aware of the critical role played by exercise in the quest to improve health and lower the cost of health care. But getting this message through to hospital executives and boards in an era of very limited capital is an immense challenge. This article is intended to provide an increased insight to these professionals, for getting information to health care leaders on how clinically integrated medical fitness centers can be financed in a period of tight money markets and increasing competition for scarce capital dollars. The case has been made for medical wellness as a component of a hospital’s “core” services, along with traditional inpatient and outpatient care, but with shrinking capital resources and increased competition for those resources, alternative sources for capital need to be explored.

The least costly form of health care is that which isn’t needed in the first place. Those in health and fitness professions know this to be an undeniable fact and realize that capital resources must be devoted to disease prevention and health promotion if the potential of wellness is to be achieved. Health care executives and boards realize that the “sick care” model is unsustainable in the future but they need to be shown how the “health care” model can be profitable and where capital can be found to implement the Medical Fitness strategy. Learn some helpful strategies in this article.

Mark A. Nadel, FACHE, managing director and partner of Healthplex Associates, is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. He is board certified in health- care administration and is the former CEO of Mercy Medical Center in Canton, OH. For more than 20 years, he has consulted with hospitals and health systems throughout the United States and Canada in the area of clinically integrated medical fitness. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Wagner College and a Master’s degree in Health Services Administration from Xavier University. He has been a guest lecturer in the Xavier Health Administration program and has written a number of articles for professional journals. He has worked with more than 400 hospitals in developing ambulatory care, medical fitness facility, and wellness strategies. In 1999, he was presented with the Xavier University Graduate Program in Health Services Administration Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award for contributions in the fields of disease prevention and health promotion.

Disclosure: Author declares no conflicts of interest.

© 2011 American College of Sports Medicine.