When EXOS partnered with the Andrews Institute in 2007 and opened a facility in Gulf Breeze, Florida, with world-renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, elite athletes for the first time had world-class clinical, fitness, and performance services under one roof.
Athletes undergoing surgery could rehabilitate with EXOS physical therapists. Healthy athletes could train under the guidance of EXOS performance specialists and dietitians. When they needed clinical services, as most elite athletes eventually do, they already were familiar with the Andrews Institute.
Flash forward nearly a decade. EXOS has created similar (though not quite identical) partnerships with a growing number of health care systems across North America and, increasingly, the world.
Four-person staffs of EXOS employees, supported by the entire company, take over or establish an EXOS-managed performance space within the health care facility, creating a new performance business for the health care system. Those customers, in turn, become more likely to turn to that health care provider when clinical needs arise.
“Our challenge was to provide the benefits of our Andrews Institute facility on a smaller scale,” says Alex Lincoln, EXOS vice president of tactical business development, who headed up the Gulf Breeze facility initially and now builds partnerships with heath care systems.
How does it work?
When health care systems offer an on-site training or performance component, they typically use a health club model with memberships and minimal hands-on guidance for users. There’s little integration between the clinical and performance sides. Many hospitals have spent lavishly on facilities that inevitably can’t compete with chain health clubs on price. And since these hospitals lack elite-level performance training — i.e., movement skills and screening, nutrition, and recovery guidance — there’s little to set their fitness operations apart.
When EXOS partners with a health care system, it packages its methodology of mindset, nutrition, movement, and recovery together in a lean operation. The four-person team — performance manager, assistant performance specialist, sales manager, and dietitian — attracts and works with youth and adult athletes looking to benefit from the same methods elite athletes use.
This approach generates immediate new business to the health care system, but perhaps more importantly, it expands the clinical side of the potential customer base. A triathlete training with EXOS who shatters a collarbone in a cycling accident will naturally turn to an orthopedist she’s become aware of at the health care facility.
“And if I’m a parent of a promising young athlete with a child training at the health care facility, I’m much more likely to go there when that child needs an MRI or a procedure,” says Marty Weems, EXOS vice president of sales and strategic business development.
What’s the return on investment for the health care system?
Since most people take a reactive approach to their bodies, addressing them only when something goes wrong, health care is inherently reactive. By embracing the proactive side, health care systems open themselves to a broader customer base that increasingly understands that performance training is not just for pro athletes and the military.
From the earliest days of EXOS, the company has attracted executives willing to pay a premium for performance training comparable to what the pros receive. Such successful businesspeople, who have sacrificed health to obtain wealth, now use wealth to regain health. Others have maintained successful recreational athletic careers that they want to extend.
In recent years, recreational athletes have proved willing to pay up to $300 a month for certain fitness membership niches. Even yoga studios can command $100 a month or more.
Since proactive treatment usually doesn’t depend on third-party payers, the performance side is an attractive revenue stream for a health care system. Though the performance side of the partnership can be a revenue stream, Weems says it’s more about marketing and creating relationships with target groups of future patients who will need services down the line.
After all, a hospital can spend money on billboards, youth sports signage, or sponsorship of local running events and have a difficult time quantifying the investment. By establishing a relationship with avid recreational athletes — typically active, middle-aged professionals with children and private health insurance — the hospital will have generated customers far more effectively than through traditional marketing. Though the proactive nature of performance training reduces the possibility of injury, athletes inevitably will need clinical services at some point.
“You have an engaged relationship before the injury ever happens,” Weems says. “If I blow out my knee, it’s an easy decision about where I’m going. It’s probably right down the hall from the training facility. Since big money isn’t made on the performance side, you have to look at it as marketing that creates a real relationship you never had through a billboard that pays off way better in terms of getting those downstream medical services.”
There’s also an educational component. Though EXOS typically doesn’t staff its partnership facilities with physical therapists and other specialists, as it doesn’t want to duplicate the clinical portion of the operation, it does provide up-to-date research and resources, which EXOS staff around the world generate.
“Our goal is not to duplicate but to enhance the staff, bridging the gap between performance and the traditional clinical side,” Lincoln says. “Some health care systems don’t have as robust a physical therapy component, so we can deliver those services. We try to navigate all scenarios to provide the best solution possible.”
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