Dec. 6, 2021 — In medical school, Julie Foucher, MD, found herself slipping away from exercise and other healthy habits.
And as she was learning about how lifestyle choices cause most of this country’s chronic health problems, she also discovered CrossFit. She enjoyed the varying challenges, the sense of community, and seeing people lose weight, get off medication, and improve their lives.
Now, Foucher is among the developers of CrossFit Precision Care, probably the most prominent, direct step to marry health care and fitness – yet another tie to the growing direct primary care trend.
CrossFit says it will offer “an individualized, proactive, and data-driven approach” to lifelong health — using CrossFit-training doctors and telemedicine.
“The sterile doctors’ office visit is not really the place to create health,” says Foucher. “Our health care system is great at addressing acute issues. It’s not really set up to be able to treat the root causes of disease, which are generally lifestyle-based.”
“Health is an expression of fitness over your lifetime,” says Foucher.
It’s available in eight states now, with plans to be nationwide in 2022. If successful, CrossFit Precision Care could provide options for people who are serious about their fitness and taking an active role in their well-being.
Trying to Find Some Kind of Merger
The idea of blending health care with fitness has been intensifying in recent years. In fact,
“it’s been talked about for decades,” says Bryan O’Rourke, president of the Fitness Industry Technology Council and a member of the board of directors of IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association.
Some big insurance companies have tried to encourage healthier habits by offering discounts on certain plans, health club memberships, and discounted exercise eqiupment, he says. But to O’Rourke, that’s at odds with the companies’ profit mission.
“It’s really a marketing thing … not representative of what the merger of the two would be,” he says. “The health care insurance system in general does not make money from people NOT getting sick.”
But some kind of merger should happen, as three-quarters of chronic illnesses in this country are lifestyle-related, he says.
And direct primary care and concierge health care are “aligned to catering to the person,” he says. “They’re not going through the middle person of the insurance company. The growth area’s in private pay.”
Major insurance providers have been working with employers to help employees adopt better habits so that the company’s health care costs can be managed better.
“What’s the solution to America’s [health care] problem? For us, it’s thinking outside the box,” says Shell Waller, a client manager for Cigna. “You’re gonna have to start doing something different to see different results.”
That means things like workplace wellness checks, measuring body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, and more. And despite the naysayers, “you don’t hear about it when group costs go down, but