August 5, 2022
The Customer Journey of a healthcare provider
Only when The Customer Journey has been mapped in all respects in one's own support chain can one speak of a complete healthcare provider.
Author: Andreas M. Bechler
The topic of health has gained in relevance in the last few years, which is expressed in particular in increased health awareness. The corona pandemic has certainly played its part in this, but so has an aging society that is increasingly concerned with its own health. The importance of health-oriented training in this context becomes particularly clear when looking at the ACSM trends, in which “training as medicine” is ranked twelfth.
Fitness studios in Germany have also recognized this trend. According to their statements (44.2% of all fitness facilities, cf. Key Data on the German Fitness Industry 2022), are increasingly positioning themselves on the market with this focus. But in most cases, these do not offer the entire chain of care for a customer. The patient's Customer Journey can thus end quickly and abruptly. It therefore makes sense to take a look at the complete customer journey of a German healthcare provider or its customers.
Although the customer journey is relatively short with its three stages, a period of six months to a whole year can pass if it is completed in full. Due to this long time span, each of these individual phases is of great importance and will now be considered individually in the following.
The therapy phase – The first contact
Classically, the customer's path begins with the responsible physician (in most cases an orthopedist), to whom he describes his ailment. The doctor prescribes a (hopefully) suitable therapy, and the path leads to the physiotherapist. The outlined customer journey begins.
The therapist still starts the actual therapy, which can consist of passive and active measures. Regardless of the individual measure, the duration of therapy is severely limited for most customers. An average therapy of six units (possibly with a follow-up prescription of another six) cannot provide long-term therapy success. It must therefore be in the therapist's interest to continue to support his protégé beyond the initial prescription and to take him into the next phase.
✓ Full cost coverage by health insurance (as a rule)
✓ Currently high demand
✓ Crisis and pandemic-proof
The transition phase – Now it’s time
Once the therapy is completed, it is important to keep the client in the Journey without directly overburdening him with the complete training alone at full financial load. Rehabilitation sports according to § 64 SGB (formerly § 44 SGB) and prevention courses according to § 20 SGB have proven themselves as transitional offers. The advantage here is that the customer continues to be involved in an adopted (rehabilitation sport) / or heavily subsidized (prevention courses) offer, with direct supervision by an appropriately licensed exercise instructor. How healthcare providers successfully implement each of the two offerings is a topic in itself. This is where Hashtag Fitnessindustrie's podcast offering can help:
Which of the two group training variants makes more sense in the transition phase cannot be clearly clarified. Different providers sometimes swear by one concept and sometimes by the other. Both are very likely to have their justification. But what is even more decisive is that this is where the bridge is built to the training phase, which the customer is expected to take over completely himself financially for the first time in the chain. Trainers must pick up the customer from the very beginning and not only when the prescription is completed or the prevention course is over. Then nothing stands in the way of the customer's further training career.
✓ (Almost) complete cost coverage by health insurance company
✓ Clear sales/cost calculation possible
The training phase – Keep up
As is well known, a lasting positive health effect requires an equally lasting health-oriented training. Accordingly, it must be the interest of the health provider to transfer the customer into such a training. Basically, two offer options make sense at this last and ideally permanent stage.
Classically, the customer continues his training in a health-oriented gym. How exactly an adequate fitness studio is structured will not be discussed further here. However, professional staff plays a decisive role. After the customer has already passed through the first two levels, which are characterized by quality criteria in terms of training (physiotherapist) or licensing and certification (prevention courses and rehabilitation sports), adequate demands are justifiably placed on the same. Accordingly, the level of education and training of employees must be. A trainer with a fresh B license is inappropriate. A positive example of the interaction between physiotherapy and health-oriented fitness training is provided by Physio Family Koblenz and Fitness Family Koblenz
Personal training is an alternative offer that is becoming increasingly popular among physiotherapists due to the lower investment costs. In this form of care, the concept stands and falls with the therapist / trainer, who must live up to the customer's built-up quality awareness and expectations through previous care. A particularly successful example of this implementation is DK Sports & Physio in Karlsruhe (cf. BODYMEDIA Physio issue 2-2022).
✓ Long-term membership contracts possible
✓ Easier conclusion of contracts possible due to prior establishment of trust
✓ Higher margins possible
Customers do not necessarily have to go through the customer journey stringently. Some start directly with rehabilitation sport or a prevention course, others recognize the need for independent training already after therapy and skip the transition phase. However, both variants have the same desired goal of turning the customer into a self-payer.
Looking at the three phases, it quickly becomes clear that very few providers cover the entire Journey. Fitness studios are usually not involved in therapy and try to establish themselves at least in the transitional area. Physiotherapists, on the other hand, look after the customer at the beginning and sometimes still offer rehabilitation sports or prevention courses. However, subsequent training is rarely possible there. But this is precisely where there is great untapped potential for both sides, fitness providers and physiotherapists, to provide customers with full support.
This article refrains from legal requirements directed at the individual stations and the separation of the respective offers from each other. However, these should not be underestimated in any case. Despite these requirements to be fulfilled, the complete mapping of the customer journey within the framework of one's own service portfolio can represent a great added value for both physiotherapists and fitness studios. Only when this journey has been mapped in all respects in one's own support chain can one speak of a complete healthcare provider.
About the author
Andreas M. Bechler is an author, consultant, lecturer, and podcaster in the fitness industry. In addition, Andreas is the spokesperson for the fitness industry working group of the VSD - Verband für Sportökonomie und Sportmanagement e.V. You can get in touch with Andreas via LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreasmbechler/
About Hashtag Fitnessindustrie
Hashtag Fitness Industry is the podcast about the German fitness industry with all its facets and players. It aims to facilitate a transfer of knowledge between the interview guests and the listener for the benefits of the entire industry. Current trends and developments are as much a part of the podcast as fundamental strategic questions from the daily business of fitness providers. Further information: https://hashtag-fitnessindustrie.de