Hoag Experiments with Pilot Health Center
Monday, August 03, 2020
The Hoag Health Center in Foothill Ranch isn’t your typical medical clinic.
The 45,000-square-foot facility at the Foothill Ranch Towne Center is an open-floor plan that could be a combination of an Apple store, a fitness center and an island resort.
The center features a gym with a workout regimen that requires a recommendation from a doctor. It has areas dedicated to physical therapy and women’s health. It also has a “tech bar” to help users connect to health improvement apps. It also has a Patch Coffee Co. bar and small specialty stores selling products from Lululemon Athletica, Campo Modern Aromatherapy and the Los Angeles Chargers.
The approach is about taking preventative measures rather than waiting for health problems to develop.
“We’re thinking differently” with the new center, Robert Braithwaite, chief executive of Newport Beach-based Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, told the Business Journal.
The center will also address patient care related to sleep, stress, movement, nutrition and relationships, among other issues, Braithwaite added.
Shortly after the Health Center opened in January, the coronavirus struck in March.
“We never really closed,” said Gabriel Carpio-Bracho, M.D., one of the lead physicians at the new facility. “It automatically slowed down because of community nervousness to come to a health facility with the risk of exposure.”
The center implemented new measures such as constant cleaning and social distancing.
Carpio-Bracho, a sports medicine specialist, has seen his daily number of patients yo-yo from 22 before the pandemic to about seven in April to 16 in May and around seven since the recent surge of cases in Orange County. He’s anticipating a slowdown that will last another six months to a year.
Hoag is the first West Coast facility to offer a medically prescribed workout regimen by Atlanta-based BioCircuit Technologies.
The program offers “prescription exercise” that are supervised workouts for at-risk patients with reduced blood volume issues, valve replacements, or other heart or health conditions. It also has a “health coach” to give on-hand encouragement to people who might be intimidated by regular gyms.
The BioCircuit studio, which includes six strength training machines, three treadmills and three stationary bikes, is meant to rehabilitate people into a functional workout routine, where they can be handed off to a personal trainer at a local gym, Carpio-Brancho said.
Patients are assigned a workout protocol and the system cues up a machine such as the stationary bike that adjusts the height and resistance according to the patient’s personal metrics. An overhead screen directs patients to different machines.
Other workout options include weight training and a resistance test to determine optimal weight for repetition. The data acquired from the patient through BioCircuit is available for the patient’s physicians to review on an app. The system is compatible with devices such as the Apple Watch.
BioCircuit isn’t like a gym membership that might compete with 24 Hour Fitness, he said.
“We are not a competition to anybody,” Carpro-Bracho said. “There is no fee. This is simply a different approach to healthcare.”
While other gyms have closed due to the pandemic, the Health Center’s studio has remained open because of its constant cleaning and enforced distancing, Carpio-Bracho said. Its gym, which can normally fit up to 12, is now limited to about three people at a time.
Hoag’s Center offers a tech bar where patients can sync their devices to one of the many mobile apps that can track their data via Fitbit, Apple Watch, or BioCircuit band.
Its Headspace program incorporates about 40 Hoag-approved wellness apps that its physicians can use in conjunction with patients. The apps range from monitoring information from sleep to the heart and the nutrition each person needs.
Nearby the BioCircuit room is ProSport, a program that provides rehabilitative care, injury prevention and sports performance training. Clinical Director Dr. Hiroki Yokoyama leads colleagues for one-on-one physical training rehab one might expect to find at an orthopedic facility.
About 15 physicians are employed at Hoag Health Center Foothill Ranch, which in normal times was expected to get 100 or so patient visits per day.
The Foothill Ranch facility is a pilot program that Hoag still plans to roll out to other Orange County areas, albeit more slowly because of the pandemic, Carpio-Bracho said.
“We blew our expectations out of the water in February” before the pandemic, Caprio-Bracho said. “The community is extremely interested in this type of program.”
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