22 Mar 2023 World leisure: news, training & property
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Health Club Management
2022 issue 7

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Leisure Management - Focus on outcomes

Editor's letter

Focus on outcomes

For years the sector has used participation numbers as a measure of success, but policymakers are now calling for a change to measuring outcomes, so value can be established

Outcomes could include shorter hospital stays, for example photo: shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

In a perfect world, governments would care about their citizens and spend time, money and energy actively seeking insights to establish the best ways to support their health and wellbeing, but this kind of proactive approach is sadly all too rare.

Instead, the majority of governments are not proactive and expect to be lobbied, with those who shout loudest and make the strongest monetary case getting support, while the rest exist in a kind of grey zone beyond the comprehension of most ministers and policymakers.

The health and fitness industry has been increasingly aware of its status in this grey zone and has been advancing its case with growing effectiveness since the start of the pandemic, through lobbying by trade associations such as UK Active, Europe Active and IHRSA, working in partnership with numerous other representative bodies.

This activity has gone up a gear recently with the launch of the Global Health and Fitness Forum and now the World Active Forum (see page 27) and it seems we’re getting the rest of the frameworks and structures in place we need to lobby ever more successfully.

There are also exciting moves underway to further coordinate the production of the factual evidence needed to unpin the case for the sector. On page 12, for example, Alfonso Jimenez explains the upcoming launch of a new body – Task Force Sport (TF Sport) – a specialised group that will be responsible for the harmonisation and development of statistics and data on the health-enhancing benefits of physical activity, while on page 31, UK Active reveals that establishing new data and insight services is one of its aims for 2022-23.

We also need to change what we’re actually measuring and on page 76, Martyn Allison reviews the latest report from the UK’s National Audit Office and suggests it’s time we moved from mainly measuring participation to also routinely measuring outcomes, as a fundamental metric.

This call is reinforced by Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Ageing (page 70), who says “Tracking outcomes in addition to participation levels is the way to discover the effectiveness of what’s offered... and show the value of an activity.”

As new data-gathering and dissemination services come on stream around the world for the sector, we must ensure they give us the evidence we need to engage with decision-makers and governments. This will require the use of a common set of data points to track and report on participation rates and outcomes in terms of social, personal and economic value.

Only then will we be set up to make the true case for the life-changing work being done by our sector.

Liz Terry, editor

Originally published in Health Club Management 2022 issue 7

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