MRH Foundation Funds Equipment for EIM Program
Ron Schuch knows about the benefits of exercise. He has lost more than 20 pounds, down from 208 to 185, since he began his five-times-a-week exercise regimen at the FirstHealth Center for Health & Fitness-Pinehurst in 2003.
As someone who enjoys a good workout, and as a member of the Moore Regional Hospital Foundation Board and its Grants Review Committee, Schuch was particularly interested in a recent Foundation funding request for Technogym Wellness Software for FirstHealth's new Exercise is Medicine (EIM) program.
"The equipment is really state of the art," Schuch says. "There are only a few facilities in the country that use this kind of technology."
While the EIM program encourages a patient and his personal physician to partner in an exercise plan geared toward improving the patient's health, the Technogym Wellness System provides the technology for ensuring that the patient safely follows his personal "exercise prescription."
It also stores the information so a program participant and the Health & Fitness staff can follow the participant's progress and share the information with the referring personal physician.
"The real differentiator for us and our clients is this element of communication," says John Caliri, director of the FirstHealth Centers for Health & Fitness. "The equipment collects data as a person exercises, and the information is available to the exercise specialist who can then guide the participant in modifying and improving his program. This is an ongoing process, as exercise is most effective when regular change is built into the program."
Using information collected by the Technogym system, the Health & Fitness staff can develop an exercise program based on the individual's specific needs and then safely increase activity levels as the participant progresses through the program.
"Physicians know that exercise is effective in preventing or treating 50 or so of the most common chronic diseases and injuries," Caliri says. "This program, and Technogym's ability to help us collect, analyze and distribute data, can help us work with the physician to help participants take a more active role in managing their own health."
The Technogym Wellness System is actually software that can be added to the fitness center's existing Technogym strength-training equipment and will be on its new Technogym cardiovascular equipment (treadmills, stationary bikes, etc.)
An exercise professional programs the participant's "exercise prescription" into a Smartkey. The participant then checks in at a Wellness Expert Kiosk to load their workout session for the day and lets the key do the rest.
The software will tell the participant where to begin, and the Smartkey will load the personal settings and provide instructions on each piece of equipment until the prescribed workout is complete. At the end of the work, the participant gets feedback and tracks progress.
Participants can even send messages to or receive messages from their trainer to keep them on track and motivated. The "most exciting part" of the process, according to Caliri, involves including the participant's personal physician in the communication loop.
"Physicians will have options about how they want to be communicated with, eventually even having the ability to receive updates directly into the patient's Electronic Medical Record," Caliri says.
Schuch was on hand for demonstrations of the Technogym system and was so impressed by what he saw that he encouraged the Grants Review Committee to fund the disbursement request of $430,652.
"I think it's going to be absolutely fantastic, and it will really help the community," he says of the EIM program. "With obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure being such overpowering problems in our society, I think this program has the potential to be really fantastic and for our fitness center to be a leader (in the medical fitness industry)."
Note: While an Exercise is Medicine participant can choose to follow his "exercise prescription" in the venue of his/her choosing, the Technogym Wellness System is available only to members of the FirstHealth Center for Health & Fitness-Pinehurst because of the location of the equipment.
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