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Is there a synergy between the spa and medical sectors?

September 6, 2010

I would like to start my first post commenting about a topic I feel that will be discussed more in the future as national health care systems become obliged to adopt a more preventive rather than curative model:  the synergy between the spa and medical sectors.   Though this has been an ongoing subject over the past few years, I came across it whilst I attended the Global Spa Summit last year in Switzerland.  I was delighted to see that in the first Spa World Mallorca 2010 Conference last month and in the Congreso Spa & Beauty Spain a few days ago, this was a subject that the attendees were very interested in.

In this post I would like to share part of the article I wrote last year for the British International Spa Association regarding this subject: Medicine and Spas: What can we accomplish together that we cannot accomplish alone?:

…Over the past couple of years, both local governments and health insurance companies are recognising the need to change the current national health care models throughout the world: a change from a curative and reactive model to one that is preventive and healing.  With an increasing ageing population at hand, the current issue has become even more prevalent and hence the imminent need for both the medical and spa industries to adapt to this reality.

The 2009 Pre-Summit Collaborative session chaired by Dr. Geraldine Mitton and Dr. Marc Cohen raised some enlightening points on the synergy between the medical and spa sectors and the benefits of this integration not only for these two sectors, but also for key investors in other related sectors and most importantly, the final consumer.

In agreement with Dr. Marc Cohen, the Power of Collaboration here would be in:

1. Education

2. Research

3. Health Insurance

4. National Health Care and preventive health services funding spa therapies

5. Combined change models where we can use spas to create global brands for wellness

6. Institutional concept

Education is a key factor in promoting the benefits of medical offerings within spas and vice versa, the benefits of spa therapies within the medical sector.  This point ties in with the next one of research.

Until now the medical sector has been sceptical about the benefits of spa therapies, including those of complementary and traditional therapies in the treatment of certain pathologies.  During the Global Spa Summit 2009 claims were made that very little, if any, research or clinical studies had been conducted on the benefits of spa therapies towards health.  We as an industry claim to be involved in the enhancement of well-being, but apparently we do not seem to have ‘proof’ of these claimed benefits.  However, discussions on this subject with leading specialists in this field after the 2009 Summit discussions revealed that there indeed have been tremendous amounts of research conducted into the efficacy of spa therapy in different parts of Europe, for example in Germany and some of the Eastern European countries.  This research does exist however a number of the clinical studies have not been translated into English and brought to light to the global spa industry, as confirmed by Marion Schneider, the Chair of the British International Spa Association.  Dr Kenneth R. Pelletier, a leading specialist in this area, pointed out that although spa therapies and Complementary and Alternative Medicine/ Intergrative Medicine (CAM/ IM) services were not always synonymous, there was a great deal of excellent documented research supporting the efficacy of many of these services in his and other clinicians’ and researchers’ books.  Additionally, there were as many as 100 ongoing research projects in the USA alone funded by the National Institutes of Health.

I agree with Dr. Pelletier’s observations that:

1. We as an industry would benefit from gathering all this “research together on a website for easy access, documentation, and rapid, global dissemination” independently from the slower and more costly print media.

2. “It is clear that we are entering a time of ‘evidence based medicine’ and it is important for any health/ medical/ spa claims to be based on research.  Again, conducting such research through a collaboration of the leading spas would be a great asset to the entire industry as well as to the spa clients.”

It is evident that we as an industry need to come together and gather all the research done to date on the numerous benefits of these spa treatments in order to prove these ‘claims’.

Health Insurance, National Health Care and the potential of preventive health services funding spa therapies is another opportunity for our industry.  With an increasing ageing population at hand the need for spa therapies to be funded is even greater.  In the General Session presentation on ‘Medical Tourism and the Role of Spas: Seizing Opportunities’ hosted by Cynthia Carrion-Norton, Renee-Marie Stephano and Dr David Vequist, Renee-Marie Stephano, the Founder of the Medical Tourism Association, discussed medical and health tourism and the concept of medical clusters, where spas could tap into these medical communities offering complementary services and treatments.  This poses a perfect opportunity for the participation of health insurance companies and local governments in the funding and promotion of such clusters.

The emergence of the Medical Tourism Association and of like associations and organisations reflects the beginning of a coherent synergy between the medical and spa sectors, increasing awareness not only within both sectors, but also amongst local governments and consumers on a global level…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 13, 2010 4:09 pm

    Very interesting! Thanks for writing and look forward to more posts


  1. Spas, Wellness Practitioners y Médicos por fin en el mismo barco | Spa Balance

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