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Revamped Fitness Program Promises More Accountability, Better Communication

Mar 07, 2014 06:10PM ● By MED Editor

The Avera Fitness Center in Sioux Falls has refined it’s medically integrated health and fitness program to improve outcomes for patients and make it more ‘user friendly’ for referring physicians.

“We have been a referral-based, medically integrated center since before the pouring of the foundations,” says Barbara Sogn-Frank, Marketing Manager of the Avera McKennan Fitness Center. “What has changed is the name of our program, which is now called Next Steps Medical Integration, as well as some of the offerings and structure of programs for specific purposes.”

Next Steps is an 8-week program that typically starts with a referral from a physician or physical therapist. Based on the results of an initial fitness assessment and recommendations from the referring physician, the transition program establishes a personalized independent exercise program organized around core fitness categories and supported by weekly check-ins with a fitness specialist.

“We have identified 8 categories in which physicians may want their patients to have some extra help resuming their normal activities,” explains Medical Integration Coordinator Jenni Struck. These categories include:

1)      Pulmonary

2)      Cardiac

3)      Diabetes

4)      Orthopedic

5)      ‘Prehab’ prior to surgery

6)      Functional (arthritis)

7)      Weight management

8)      Transitional care

Patients enrolled in the program are required to have at least two contacts with the center each week, but are welcome to come as often as they like. Depending on the goals, that might be through classes, supervised instruction on the fitness floor, independent exercise in the pool, etc.  Sogn-Frank says the Next Steps program has enhanced its ability to track patients’ progress and made it easier for providers to connect with someone at the fitness center for updates.

“Our goal is to work closely with the referring entity,” says Struck. “We want to make it easy for physicians, who can fill out a referral form of just call the center. We follow-up to let the doctor know when a patient has started the program and we communicate their recommendations or restrictions to the fitness specialist. If anything changes during the course of the program, we get in touch with the physician again.”

“Increasingly, physicians are being urged and rewarded for supporting wellness care,” says Sogn-Frank. “We hope that the documentation, tracking, and communication involved in this program will be of value to them, as well as their patients.”

All Next Steps Medical Integration staff members have at least a 4-year degree in exercise science. Several have multiple certifications through the American college of Sports Medicine and other accrediting bodies. The cost of the 8-week program is $99.

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