Over the last years, the spa industry has experienced a strong change regarding the way it implements its service offerings. Treatments for patients suffering from cancer are only one approach the spa industry has been considering as an additional option for expanding its services. Although there are still many obstacles to overcome in order to achieve proper integration between spas and these type of treatments, the health sector offers the spa industry a great opportunity for growth.
Evolution of The Spa Industry
In recent years, the spa industry has been redefining its service offering approaches. In fact, little by little our industry has been moving away from the idea of being a field targeted only to a privileged group of people. Thanks in part to the emergence of budget spas, the spa industry has managed to disengage from the idea of exclusivity and luxury that has traditionally been associated with this sector.
Along these lines, the spa industry has also started to consider other options that go beyond the wellness concept playing a more active role in the health field. It is precisely in this context that treatments and services for patients with cancer have recently made their debut in the spa industry.
The Inspiritas Case
One of the pioneer spas offering treatments for patients with cancer is Inspiritas, a wellness centre located in the United States. Inspirita’s success is mostly based on its ability to deliver proven effective treatments provided by a network of well-trained professionals.
Thanks to the combination of traditional Western medicine with complementary therapies, Inspiritas provides services and treatments that not only tackle physical pain but also help the patient to improve his/her mental state. By helping patients to develop a positive mindset, which ultimately strengthens the immune system and accelerates healing, this centre provides patients with the opportunity to feel better about themselves.
Inspiritas’s success is largely based on the ability of this centre to overcome some of the obstacles that currently prevent the spa industry from incorporating cancer treatments into its service offerings.
Recently, Tracy Walton, owner of Tracy Walton & Associates LLC, listed some of these obstacles in Spa Business Online. The most important obstacle of all deals with the poor level of training and qualification in massage therapy. In fact, many massage therapists were trained with the idea that massage might spread cancer by promoting blood circulation.
This lack of training can also produce harmful effects for patients with cancer. For instance, if not properly applied, heat-based treatments or those dealing with detoxification and skin care can aggravate symptoms and produce lifelong complications.
Tracy Walton argues that massage therapists should work on increasing the knowledge of the patient’s medical history so they can adjust the type of massages provided. She also suggests a continuous education in oncology massage.
A different approach to deal with this issue can be a stronger collaboration between spas and alternative medicine centers in order to get more professional assistance where perhaps a therapist might not feel comfortable without the ‘go-ahead’ or ‘prescription’ of a practitioner.
Another obstacle is related to the business model that surrounds spas. According to Lisa Starr, a consultant for Wynne Business, one of the challenges is that of turning the spa business model into a more medical service less focused on economic revenue.
Along those lines, the current spa business model also offers an additional obstacle. Although the lack of uniform or global regulations regarding treatments has allowed the spa industry to maintain a certain level of innovation, this also means that one cannot control the quality of treatment (or education) promoting a lack of consumer confidence in spa services.
Despite the obstacles mentioned above, many professionals in the spa industry are optimistic about the integration of this sector with health-related services. Lisa Starr sees a future where the worlds of spas, wellness, and healing morph into a new type of business model.
In short, if the spa industry wants to successfully move into the realm of health-related services, which include treatments for patients with cancer, it should pay attention to two factors: The training of professionals and the review of its business model so it can move from the current retailed-oriented model to a more medical one focused exclusively on the patient. If the spa industry pays attention to these two variables, it will move toward a strong future in the delivery of health-related services including those for patients suffering from cancer.
In the end, the ideal scenario here would be to strike a balance between two extremes as we do not particularly want to face the stringent and inflexible regulations of the medical sector. However, we do need to embrace the need for raising the bar on the level of education therapists receive as well as the need for updating our business model and adapting it to the market’s demand.