If there’s one thing that political systems and businesses have in common, it’s that both require a cohesive and unified vision to achieve stability and longevity—two crucial elements in any successful endeavor. Organizations, industries, or political parties that aren’t working toward a common goal are on a short road to failure. Now, that doesn’t mean that we should hold fast to an outdated mode of operating in order to maintain the status quo or avoid disruption; after all, in this life, change is the only constant. Instead, to be successful, we must learn to embrace change while ensuring that the overarching mission that connects us is broad enough to help us navigate the twists, curves, and bumps—as well as the differing opinions—that will most certainly arise along the way.
Embracing a Vision
The physical therapy industry has changed significantly since I started practicing—and again since we launched WebPT. However, the vision that unifies us has remained roughly the same; while the APTA’s current vision statement reads, “Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience,” previous iterations have focused more on improving the lives of individual patients. Regardless of semantics, though, most of us in this profession share a common desire to help people. Of course, the technology that’s available now to support this mission wasn’t around when I first graduated school. Today, PTs have a plethora of options when it comes to cloud-based documentation, billing tools, compliance alerts, video-based HEPs, outcomes tracking, and patient relationship management software.
While we may not all agree on which tech tools to use, I think it’s safe to say that our progress on the technology front over the past decade is a great thing—especially given the ever-evolving nature of industry regulations. It’d be nearly impossible to provide the very best clinical care, remain fully compliant, and maximize payments today without the help of technology.
Expanding a Perspective
Speaking of change, I’ve changed a lot, too, since graduating from PT school—as I’m sure you have as well. Fifteen years into my career, when I first decided to launch WebPT, it was hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I wouldn’t be treating patients any longer. For a while there, I thought I’d have to give up the vision that led me to become a PT in the first place. It wasn’t until I expanded my perspective that I realized that this software would enable me to help my peers better help their patients—meaning I would, in the end, be able to help even more people. In other words, my original driving purpose—or vision—remained fundamentally the same. I simply took a step back and allowed myself to think bigger. Today, my focus is on helping therapists achieve greatness—and realize their vision—because their success will touch more people than I ever could have on my own. And as an added perk, I get to help my nearly 500 employees achieve their own definitions of greatness.
Celebrating the Revolution
This is a special year for us here at WebPT: we’re celebrating our ten-year anniversary. I couldn’t be more proud of the innovative, game-changing, revolutionary work we’ve been able to do—on the company front as well as for the rehab therapy industry at large. And we couldn’t have done any of it without holding steadfast to our vision—and getting incredible support and inspiration from the rehab therapy community. In honor of this momentous occasion, I’d like to share three of my favorite milestones we’ve achieved along the way:
1. We’ve helped more rehab therapists document electronically.
When we first launched WebPT in 2008, 80% of therapists were documenting on paper, despite the fact that providers in other healthcare disciplines were already leveraging new technologies. Today, that number has flipped: 80% of PTs, OTs, and SLPs use an EMR to ensure comprehensive, compliant, and defensible documentation, which contributes to a more complete medical record that can be easily shared with other members of a patient’s care team. That’s great for a number of reasons, perhaps one of the most exciting being that it serves as a foundation for PTs to establish themselves as primary care coordinators.
2. We’ve grown from three employees to 500—and gone from serving five clinics to more than 12,000.
From the start, we prioritized collecting—and acting upon—Member and employee feedback. In fact, ensuring we treat everyone as a stakeholder—customers, employees, partners, and vendors—regarding company decisions is a core principle of Conscious Leadership, something we adhere to wholeheartedly. As a result of listening to our Members, we’ve added a billing service, billing integrations, billing software, built-in outcomes tracking and reporting, in-depth business and analytics reporting, built-in FLR and PQRS tools, an intelligent ICD-10 tool, a Member-exclusive marketplace, and now, patient relationship management (PRM) software.
We also recently announced our acquisition of BMS Practice Solutions, the industry’s leading revenue cycle management company. In addition to expanding our offerings to even better serve our Members, this acquisition has added 200 new employees—at offices in several new geographic regions—to our roster. And through all this growth, we’ve stayed true to our people-first approach to business, which has enabled us to maintain our strong company culture and shared vision.
WebPT made the Inc. 5000 Honor Roll.
It’s our innovation—and our people-first approach to business and conscious approach to leadership—that has enabled us to scale and remain true to our startup roots. As a result, we’ve been named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies five years in a row. This honor places WebPT among an elite group of independent business collectively called the “Inc. 5000 Honor Roll.” And that’s not the only award we’ve won. To see all the others we’ve been honored to receive, check out our press page.
3. We’ve become a trusted industry resource that stands for something.
One of the things I’m most proud of is that we’ve been able to support our Members and the rehab therapy profession at large through numerous regulatory changes, including FLR, PQRS, ICD-10, the move to value-based payment and care models, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the adoption of direct access legislation in all 50 states, the upcoming transition to MIPS, the introduction of a new system for coding initial evaluations, and the permanent repeal of the therapy cap. It’s been a very eventful decade, wouldn’t you say?
Through it all, WebPT has grown into more than just a software company; we’re now a trusted resource and partner in the rehab therapy community. We’ve dedicated ourselves to providing top-notch industry education and raising the bar on technology and digital marketing—in fact, over the years, we’ve covered everything from healthcare reform, interoperability, and cybersecurity to lead generation, digital marketing, and social media. In addition to writing and publishing three to four original blog posts each week, offering at least one free webinar each quarter, and hosting the only business-focused conference for rehab therapists in the country each year, we make it a priority to advocate on behalf of PTs on both the state and national levels. Currently, we’re working on establishing unrestricted direct access in more states; removing the restrictions preventing rehab therapists from providing—and getting paid for—telehealth services; and pushing the interstate licensure compact forward.
Making a Choice
We’ve been on a wild, wonderful ride for the past decade—we, as WebPT, and we, as an industry. And we have so much more to do together. The nature of health care is in flux, and we have a choice as to how we respond. Yes, regulations are increasing, reimbursements are decreasing, and consolidation is on the rise. But, the current focus on improving care quality and reducing costs provides PTs with the perfect opportunity to shine. We know that first-line physical therapy intervention often produces positive outcomes at a significantly lower cost point than other, more invasive treatment protocols. Well, now’s the time to build our data stores and effectively communicate our value to patients, providers in other disciplines, and payers alike. After all, no one else is going to do it for us.
There will always be a demand for private practice physical therapy. But to thrive in this new environment, we’ve got to adapt, evolve, and embrace change while remaining focused on the vision that unites us all. The way I see it, we absolutely must use direct access laws to their fullest and market our services to patients directly, so the huge number of people who could benefit from seeing a physical therapist each year actually do. We must prioritize the patient experience and reduce early patient dropout in order to better serve our patients and strengthen our revenue streams. And we must embrace technology that helps us not only stay relevant, but also establish ourselves on equal footing with providers in other healthcare disciplines. That’s how we’ll succeed in this new era of health care.
When I look back ten years from now—as we’re celebrating our 20-year anniversary—I want to see that we rose to this challenge like we’ve risen to each one before it. What do you want to see? Tell me your thoughts in the comment section below. And until then, here’s to another wild, wonderful decade together. Regardless of whether or not you use our software, you’re part of our community, so thank you for helping to make WebPT what it is today.
About the Author
Heidi Jannenga PT, DPT, ATC/L is the president and co-founder of WebPT, the leading practice management solution for physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Heidi leads WebPT’s product vision, company culture, and branding efforts, while advocating for the physical therapy profession on a national scale. She co-founded WebPT after recognizing the need for a more sophisticated industry-specific EMR platform and has since guided the company through exponential growth, while garnering national recognition. Heidi brings with her more than 15 years of experience as a physical therapist and multi-clinic site director as well as a passion for healthcare innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership.
An active member of the sports and private practice sections of the APTA, Heidi advocates for independent rehab therapy businesses, speaks as a subject-matter expert at industry conferences and events, and participates in local and national technology, entrepreneurship, and women-in-leadership seminars. In 2014, Heidi was appointed to the PT-PAC Board of Trustees. She also serves as a mentor to physical therapy students and local entrepreneurs and leverages her platform to promote the importance of diversity, company culture, and overall business acumen for private practice rehab therapy professionals.
Heidi was a collegiate basketball player at the University of California, Davis, and remains a lifelong fan of the Aggies. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and exercise physiology, went on to earn her master’s degree in physical therapy at the Institute of Physical Therapy in St. Augustine, Florida, and obtained her doctorate of physical therapy through Evidence in Motion. When she’s not enjoying time with her daughter Ava, Heidi is perfecting her Spanish, practicing yoga, or hiking one of her favorite Phoenix trails.