Fitness In The Healthcare Business Prescription
Healthcare and fitness are closely related, as you already know, no doubt. There is also a consensus among organizations like the ACSM and the medical profession that exercise is essential to human health, also that technology changes the way we deliver care.
As fitness becomes part of medical prescriptions more frequently, it sounds like good news for fitness professionals who have the knowledge and certifications to capitalize on the trend. Before you rush into any healthcare related business commitments, though, make sure you understand the burden of responsibility you’ll take on for data protection.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
First, as a gym business in the United States, you do NOT have to comply with healthcare rules. Normally, fitness service providers don’t have to deal with the complicated regulations and rule of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). However, if you begin using your fitness resources in support of the healthcare industry in the United States, HIPAA might take over your life.
Information Is Different For Medical Patients
The Department of Health and Human Services sets the standards for data security for any organization that holds medical data on behalf of patients. This Federal agency oversees compliance and has the authority to fine companies for when they fail to meet the standards.
HIPAA defines how to protect the privacy of patients and what you have to do in case of a data breach. So, any business model where a gym owner would consider getting into healthcare would have to be an exceptional one, given the added bureaucracy.
It Is All About How You Get Paid
The most likely reason you would come under HIPAA is that, for whatever reason, you get paid through healthcare insurance plans, HMOs, Medicare, Medicaid, or some other similar scheme, you will have to keep the information about customers based on the rules laid out under HIPAA. Compliance rules might apply to you if your business interacts with other service providers as an associate, subcontractor, or hybrid business.
A hybrid example would be a grocery store that provides pharmacy services or a gym that provides services for prescribed rehabilitation. If you have the right certifications and connections to build a special population membership, you can make it a business, but you will have your work cut out.
Growing Opportunities For Fitness Centers
As a physical therapist, you will face stringent licensing requirements at the state level. The demand for exercise physiologists and physical therapists is growing rapidly. If you provide services such as physiotherapy or other health-related fitness services you might get caught up incidentally.
It is not just physiotherapy that appeals to practitioners as valuable to patient recovery. Strength training is gaining advocates for the increases in life quality and improved bone density. Cardio training has obvious benefits in rehabilitation and disease prevention also.
The rising possibilities of fitness in healthcare also come from the new ways that technology integrates fitness with digital devices. Wearable devices and connected gym equipment produce data to track patient progress and improvements, which makes them useful as diagnostic tools and to monitor the progress of patients.
Choosing Fitness Healthcare Or Both
Again, gym businesses are specifically NOT required to comply with HIPAA, which relieves you of the burden in most circumstances. If you have a partnership with a medical practitioner or you can provide services to a hospital or clinic, you may be able to earn a higher income than as a gym alone. In an industry as competitive as fitness you need every advantage you can get.
A business model that earns membership income, as well as medical billing, might be a way to get the best of both and generate a healthy return on investment. Just understand first that, if you have some reason that a business model that earns income from healthcare, you are moving into a realm that is much more technically demanding. Whether you have an opportunity to pivot into healthcare or start a collaboration that is a hybrid business model, just make certain that the financial is worth your while.
Fagan, Lawrence. Broaden Your Horizons By Supporting Fitness For Special Populations. June 10, 2013. https://blog.gyminsight.com/1083-broaden-your-horizons-by-supporting-fitness-for-special-populations/ (accessed March 27, 2017).
Feigenbaum, Jordan. Exercise Recommendations in Primary Care: A Quality Improvement Initiative. March 30, 2016. https://www.barbellmedicine.com/exercise-recommendations-in-primary-care-a-quality-improvement-initiative/ (accessed March 27, 2017).
Gay, Valerie, and Peter Leijdekkers. Bringing Health and Fitness Data Together for Connected Health Care: Mobile Apps as Enablers of Interoperability. November 18, 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4704968/ (accessed March 27, 2017).
Haden, Rebecca. Social Media for Your Gym. October 24, 2016. https://www.hadeninteractive.com/social-media-for-your-gym/ (accessed March 27, 2017).
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Audit Program. https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/compliance-enforcement/audit/index.html?language=es (accessed March 27, 2017).
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