Bridging the Patient to Member Gap

By May 14, 2013 No Comments

One widespread challenge of the medical fitness center industry is converting patients to members through a systematic, engaging process.

Most patients complete a rehab program, thank the physician or therapist, and then, if encouraged, join the wellness center as a full-time member. Easy enough, right? But a large number of those patients are falling between the cracks, even though the transition to membership seems natural.

Patients have a clear path, peppered with specific milestones over a given period of time. Members, however, may have less defined goals over an indefinite period of time. Being a member seems much less regimented and does not offer a clear objective. Pile that on top of other barriers: lack of confidence, fear of not knowing anybody, lack of accountability, lack of motivation.

The staff at St. Mary’s Wellness Center in Georgia, for example, has almost a fail-proof plan for closing the patient to member gap. During the final rehab sessions, their physical therapists introduce patients to the other side of the wellness center (where members exercise and hang out.) Their health professionals make sure patients are comfortable using the machines and even introduce them to the wellness staff.

This may not seem like much, but imagine for several weeks you used the same machines and knew your settings by heart (in the rehab area), and now you have to use different equipment without your physical therapist.

Enter the personal trainers! The St. Mary’s staff ensures that patients have an opportunity to meet with a personal trainer before they are cut loose form the rehab program.Patients are more motivated to join as a member because they experienced a personal hand-off from one reliable expert to another.

Having a deliberate, personal transition plan has paid off for successful medical fitness centers. Deliberate means defining a clear process and making sure all health professionals are held accountable. Personal means patients do not feel abandoned post-rehab, and feel they made a connection with someone on the wellness end. It is very simple, and very effective.

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