Your medical fitness facility is up and running, you have doctor referrals set up, and your sales team is spreading the word in the community. Now you have to make sure your clients are engaged and the programs are serving their purpose — both for members and the health system.
“Fitness centers are a much different investment than a cancer center or some other traditional hospital departments,” says Debbie Roytas, executive director of the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center in Washington, Pennsylvania, and a senior general manager at EXOS. “They’re more about prevention and education than disease treatment, and, in many cases, it’s a way to expose more people in the community to the overall health system. But the center should still be able to make a profit for its owner.”
Track these 10 metrics to ensure you’re meeting your mission and improving ROI.
1. Members’ biometrics.
This is why your facility exists. Since medical fitness facilities are more health focused — and often more expensive — than regular gyms, every client who joins should go through an orientation and get a health screen, which might include measurements of weight, body mass index, body fat, waist circumference, and blood pressure. If members are participating in more directed programs, such as those for heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, tracking other information, such as HbA1c, cholesterol, and V02max (a gauge of cardiovascular fitness), might make sense. Depending on the program, these should be retested and diligently documented every three months or so. The results help you see how well your programs are working.
“This is called ‘efficacy,’” says Hadley Winthrop, a senior general manager at EXOS who oversees three BayCare Fitness Center locations in Florida. “Are you actually making a difference in the community? You’re not just getting people healthier; you’re changing diagnoses. Your classes and programming should reflect those goals.”
“Population health” is a big buzzword right now as insurers are expecting hospitals to address common health problems in their local communities. “Hospitals should be looking at the specific problems in their regions, such as diabetes or tobacco use,” Roytas says. “They’re being incentivized to make a difference, and the fitness facility can help the health system meet benchmarks.” But if you don’t track the data, you can’t quantify the benefit.
2. Retention and attrition.
These are gym management 101 metrics, but they still matter in a medical fitness facility. Retention is the percentage of members who remain with the facility over a certain period of time, say six months or a year. Attrition is the percentage of members who leave over that same time frame. Obviously, the more members you have showing up, the more dollars you capture (from both fees and ancillary services) and the more opportunity you have to change health outcomes.
3. Spend per member (total and ancillary).
Members pay dues and buy services, such as massage, swim lessons, personal training, nutrition counseling, and physical therapy. These ancillary services improve the bottom line and show how engaged people are with the center. “Ideally in a medical fitness facility you can track a member’s movements around the building from service to service,” Winthrop says.
This information can also help paint a picture of what goes into getting a patient’s blood pressure down or rehabbing a bad knee. “It creates a road map for the facility and the health system as a whole,” he says. Eventually, doctors should be able to say to patients, “If you join the fitness facility and do X, Y and Z, we’ve seen HbA1c — or blood pressure or BMI — numbers drop by X percent.”
4. Average length of membership.
If the average is low, the harder your sales and marketing team has to work. Plus, it tells you that customers aren’t happy with the experience or service they’re getting at the facility. That kind of word-of-mouth travels, especially if members are paying a premium to be there.
“In the industry, people usually stay between six and nine months in a community fitness center,” says Winthrop. “In a hospital health system, we want to stretch that to between nine and 18 months. We offer the complete continuum of care so there should be no reason for someone to cancel due to an injury or something like that.”
5. Referrals from the health system.
Some referrals will come in for a specific program, such as for cardiac rehab or diabetes control, but others will just be general referrals from a provider. Tracking these internal referrals will give you an idea of how well the fitness facility is integrated into the system and how comfortable providers are making referrals. A low referral rate signals a need to increase your internal education and marketing to physicians. Having stats on hand to illustrate how well your programs work to change diagnoses is crucial here. “Outcomes don’t lie,” says Roytas. “When doctors see our programs are working, we see more referrals.”
6. Sales and marketing stats.
Instead of taking a scattershot approach with sales and marketing, you should know which tactics are paying off. “If you spent $1,000 on Facebook, how many people came through the door from that spend?” Winthrop says. The same goes for a community outreach event or a discount offer. Always ask potential members where/how they heard about the facility so you can track the information.
Measuring the effectiveness of your sales team is also crucial. “EXOS membership consultants are well-versed in tracking where they get their leads,” he says. “EXOS logs how many people they connect with outside the facility, how many guest passes are handed out, how many appointments are booked, how many of those bookings showed up and took a tour, and then how many eventually signed up — everything from start to finish. It tells you where your consultants may need coaching in order to meet their goals.”
7. Membership usage.
Tracking how often your members come to the gym each week will give you the head’s up about who is more apt to stop coming and cancel their membership. “If someone hasn’t come to the gym in three weeks, 95 percent of the time they’ll cancel,” Winthrop says. “If they come once a week, they’re not that invested. Ideally you want them there at least twice a week.” Calling to check in on members who aren’t coming very often can help get them engaged again.
Log attendance in all your classes day by day. Are you offering the classes people want when they want them? Does your 5 p.m. weight class on Monday have only four people, while your 6:30 class on Tuesday is full? “If that’s the case, you have to check in and see what the community wants,” Winthrop says. “It’s best to do this at the beginning when the facility and classes are still small.” If you’re not meeting the desires of your members, you may lose them.
9. Member experience.
Comment cards and online surveys are excellent ways to find out how members feel about the facility and the service and results they’re getting. If they’re happy, they’re more likely to stay and refer new members. If they’re unhappy, that’s an opportunity to improve programs and service.
10. Incoming health system referrals from the fitness center.
This last stat should ideally be monitored by the health system, but the fitness facility can try to track it as well by periodically asking members if they’ve seen any health system providers for the first time in the last few months. “Hospitals and doctor’s offices typically aren’t collecting this data. They’re not asking patients if they were referred from the wellness center,” Roytas says. One of the reasons for having a medical fitness facility is to increase awareness of the health system in the community and this is an excellent way to gauge how well the facility is fulfilling that mission.
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