26 Feb 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
Sign up for FREE ezine

Spa Business
2017 issue 2

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Diagnostic testing - Should spas offer diagnostic testing?

Ask an Expert

Diagnostic testing - Should spas offer diagnostic testing?

Diagnostic testing can help spas create customised wellness programmes, but there are some important considerations. Jane Kitchen asks the experts

Jane Kitchen, Spa Business
Diagnostic tests are becoming cheaper, more widespread and more accurate

Spas are continually searching for ways to differentiate themselves in a competitive landscape, increasingly by offering more personalised services and results-driven therapies. One way to do that is with diagnostic or medical testing, which can cover anything from sleep tracking to DNA testing to full medical screenings. The results from these screenings can then be used to create individual treatment plans for guests, incorporating diet, exercise and customised wellness programmes.

However, there are many things for spas to consider before bringing testing services to the menu. While medical spas often have the equipment, staff and resources on-hand, a traditional spa will need to approach the subject in a different way, or look at adding costly equipment and specialist medical staff. Then, there’s the matter of guest privacy and keeping records safe. Laws vary from country to country, but in general, safeguarding procedures must be thought through and proper procedures followed.

With scientific and technological advances, some diagnostics can be added with little cost and without the need for medically trained staff. Non-invasive tests that don’t involve drawing blood or taking urine samples are much simpler. DNA tests, which require only a saliva sample, offer little risk to the guest – although an expert is needed to interpret the results.

Educating and empowering guests about their own bodies can help them take steps to lead healthier lives. In the end, it’s important to know your guests. If you’re attracting people who want pampering and indulgence, adding health testing doesn’t necessarily make sense. But if your guests are seeking knowledge and lifestyle change, diagnostic testing could help them – and provide your spa with a new level of credibility.

In the coming years, testing services show the possibility for great change, with wearables becoming more accurate and DNA testing becoming more widespread and cheaper. Are spas ready for this kind of responsibility? Will it facilitate more meaningful programming and create guest loyalty? What sorts of issues do spas need to be mindful of? We asked the experts...

Dr Luis Felipe Menezes Martins Clinical Director, Kurotel Longevity Medical Center and Spa


Dr Luis Felipe Menezes Martins

Kurotel has been offering genetic testing since 2001. Currently, we offer nutritional and metabolic testing, and we also provide genetic testing that provides information on gene predisposition for exercise and sports.

We collect samples on-site and then send them to a genetic lab. Our treatments are designed around results from the tests; once the technical report is received, a team of physicians, nutritionists and fitness experts build a report with diet and exercise suggestions. It is an integrated approach to total wellness.

Predictive genetic testing is an exceptional tool to help identify a predisposition to developing specific disorders related to diet and exercise, as well as chronic degenerative diseases like heart and brain disease, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s. But it’s important for guests to understand that these tests only show a genetic predisposition – meaning that the situation might never occur.

This kind of testing is definitely a plus for spas. It increases the quality and effectiveness of interventions, providing better results on weight management and physical performance, leading to better quality of life and longevity. The spa is the perfect environment to change habits with the guidance and support of an inter-disciplinary team.

Most tests and therapies can be safely performed within a spa environment. Any procedure involving risk must follow all safety procedures, and the performance must be constantly assessed. The findings must be carefully interpreted by a trained, specialised clinical staff. Genetic testing offers no risk for guests, but results must be combined with traditional medical and nutritional assessment. Choosing a qualified lab is important to protect the genetic data and client records. This testing is still expensive, but with the speed of technological advancements, we believe the costs will be much more affordable and accessible soon.

In the future, genetic engineering might hold the solution for most diseases. Knowing predisposition factors before the illness appears – and taking preventative actions – is the best way to live a longer and more joyful life.

Dr Luis Felipe Menezes Martins is Clinical Director at Kurotel - Longevity Medical Center and Spa, one of the oldest wellness destinations in South America. He holds advanced degrees in pediatrics, physical and rehabilitation medicine, exercise and sports medicine and is an expert on the latest innovations in clinical wellness.

"Testing increases the quality and effectiveness of interventions"

Melissa Fielding Spa Director Carillon Miami Wellness Resort


Melissa Fielding

We’ve been offering comprehensive diagnostic and health consultations at Carillon since 2008, including pulmonary function tests, bone density tests, EKG, cardiac stress tests, body composition and food sensitivity testing.

These tests help us better understand and diagnose our guests, and allow us to put together a more personalised plan to ensure they can meet their overall wellness needs. We have doctors and nurses on staff who administer the tests, and the doctor normally interprets the results. We don’t have a lab on site, but have agreements with various labs.

Guests come to a spa to have diagnostic tests done for three reasons: environment, service and convenience. A traditional doctor’s office experience can be viewed as stressful. In a spa setting, people can receive these tests in a more relaxed environment, but still get the information they need to understand their overall health.

The biggest challenge involved in introducing testing services is finding the licensed people to administer and interpret the results. Labs will offer assistance with interpreting results, but it’s extremely important that the doctor on staff has the right education and background and is highly knowledgeable with all the testing services you offer.

Spas that are interested in adding testing services should look at why people come to their facility and what they do while they’re staying there. It takes a lot of research. You need to know your guests and decide how far you want to go in terms of offerings. And you need to protect yourself from potential liability.

You also need to ensure that you’re following all the local medical regulations, and that confidentiality is strictly enforced. And because specialised equipment can be costly, it’s worth doing research to ensure that you’ll get a return on what can be a very large investment. Another thing to keep in mind is that sanitation standards are elevated in a testing environment; you need to have a plan to dispose of biohazardous material.

Focusing on overall wellness should be the goal at any spa facility. If testing can assist with helping spas understand guests’ current medical status, and help create a better health plan for them, then I think it’s something spas should consider adding to their list of services.

"Focusing on overall wellness should be the goal of any spa facility"

Anna Bjurstam Vice President Six Senses Spas


Anna Bjurstam

Since 2015, we have offered two screening services at Six Senses: wellness screening, which measures key physiological biomarkers of health; and the Movement Efficiency Test by Fusionetics, which identifies areas of strength and weaknesses for fitness and movement. We’ve also recently launched the Sleep with Six Senses programme, where, among other things, guests have their sleep measured.

We recognise that each person has individual characteristics and that by using smart technology we can measure a set of health biomarkers that allows our experts to make recommendations on treatments, activities, even foods to favour or avoid, which are specific to each guest. The wellness screenings are performed by our wellness experts, who analyse the data and guide the guest on the right programme to follow. For example, a guest might want to detox. However, if the screening reveals a high nervous system response, the destress/sleep programme would be more appropriate, together with relevant food options.

Our wellness experts undergo an intensive training and testing period before they can perform the wellness screening. We don’t analyse biomarkers from a medical perspective; our wellness screenings suggest only possible preventative health and lifestyle changes.

Spas that want to offer testing and diagnostic services need to make sure that the equipment is operated by trained employees who can provide sound advice and don’t blur boundaries between lifestyle and medical advice. Offering these tests provides a business advantage as it allows treatments, activities and programmes to be tailored to specific needs, rather than providing one-size-fits-all solution.

An increasing number of companies within the wellness industry recognise that there are many people in this world who have different needs and should be served uniquely. Testing and diagnostics provide an invaluable insight into someone’s state of wellbeing and create opportunities to personalise programmes. This allows guests to discover more about themselves and understand ways they can improve their lifestyle. Naturally, this leads to a more satisfied guest – plus a more preventative approach to health.

Anna Bjurstam is vice president of Six Senses Spas, which operates 11 resorts and 29 spas in 20 countries.

"Diagnostics provide an invaluable insight into someone’s state of wellbeing "

Dr Rastislav Gašpar Medical Director Danubius Hotels


Dr Rastislav Gašpar

At Danubius, we use a broad range of lab tests, from basic biochemical parameters to immunology tests and even microbiology. These services have been available long-term, as we are a healthcare facility.

In general, test results alone do not have an impact on the treatments we choose, as we have enough information from other resources like patient history, medical documentation and doctor’s exams. During the medical examination, the doctor may propose some tests, which are conducted in certified laboratories on a contractual basis. Samples, such as blood and urine, are taken in our facilities by trained medical personnel. Final interpretation and communication of the results to our guests is up to the doctors.

For spas that are interested in adding testing options, the key is to find the appropriate tests for your spa. Adding testing services is not necessarily financially viable for spas to do in-house, but on a contractual basis, it’s possible. Lab tests are an expense; however, if the spa is focused on guests with similar conditions and has the appropriate medical personnel able to manage tests, then it could help a spa to differentiate itself. The risk is in misinterpretation of the results by guests – or by unqualified personnel.

Interpretation of test results should only be done by a medical doctor; it requires solid medical knowledge and an understanding of the relationships between different human pathologies. If the intention is to run screening programmes with some basic parameters, nurses can assist. You will need to follow rules related to medical documentation; for us, that includes compliance with respective local and EU legislation.

Tests may be a “nice to have” service in a spa, but they are not the sole reason for visiting a spa. The main reason should be the treatments.

"Adding testing is not necessarily financially viable for spas to do in-house"

Originally published in Spa Business 2017 issue 2

Published by The Leisure Media Company Ltd Portmill House, Portmill Lane, Hitchin, Herts SG5 1DJ. Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd