Perspective on Innovation
In 2006, I was a sports physical therapist and director of a multi-site clinic in Tempe—and as such, I was responsible for managing operations, people, and bottom-line goals. Two of our practice’s biggest expenses were dictation and transcription, so I began looking for a more cost-effective solution. At the time, most physician practices were already using electronic medical records (EMRs), which minimize the need for these services altogether. But, there wasn’t anything on the market I felt would provide the same benefits for my physical therapy business.
Adopting a sub-par system—and developing Band-Aid fixes to make it function for us—didn’t seem like the right answer. So instead, my co-founder—a seasoned technologist and entrepreneur—and I chose to build our own. In the beginning, our goal was to simply solve the specific problem that I thought was somewhat unique to my clinics.
As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one in this technology quandary. After completing some market research, we found 80 percent of physical therapists were still documenting using pen and paper—and ever-increasing regulations meant that continuing to do so in the long term would be challenging (and risky). That’s when we knew we’d stumbled onto something with big potential. Ten months later, we had a beta product, which some of my local colleagues quickly adopted—and they also quickly began providing positive feedback.
Shortly after that, in February 2008, we officially launched WebPT—the first web-based EMR designed specifically for PTs—and sold to five clinics that first month. Fast forward to today, and WebPT is now one of the fastest-growing software companies in Arizona and one of the fastest-growing EMR platforms in the country. A decade after launching, we’re serving more than 12,000 clinics and 83,000 customers nationwide—around 35 percent of the entire outpatient rehab therapy market.
WebPT has become a mission-critical technology that has disrupted the rehab therapy industry, changing the way tens of thousands of physical, occupational, and speech therapy providers are documenting, protecting, and sharing patient information. Our mission has always been to empower rehab therapists to achieve greatness in practice, and to fulfill that mission, we’ve remained steadfastly committed to innovation that benefits our customers directly.
To that end, we’ve expanded our platform to be more than a stand-alone EMR; we now offer integrated scheduling, billing, analytics, outcomes tracking, and patient relationship management—all of which enables rehab therapists to stay at the leading edge of interoperability, data collection and analysis, security, meaningful use, and patient experience.
While innovation will always be a cornerstone for WebPT, it’s our people who have made us what we are today. As an organization that adheres to the tenets of Conscious Capitalism, we’re committed to giving all of our stakeholders— customers, employees, partners, investors, and our community—a voice. Our team actively seeks feedback from our customers, and we regularly visit their clinics and shadow them to gain a better understanding of their workflows and challenges. That way, we know what we’re developing next will be exactly what they need.
As WebPT has grown, we’ve been fortunate to attract some of the brightest, most dedicated talent to our team. In fact, one of our most meaningful achievements has been creating 300 jobs in Phoenix’s historic Warehouse District, where WebPT first put down roots. When we moved WebPT to the Warehouse District, tech was nascent in the area, and the innovation ecosystem was largely localized elsewhere. But, we could feel this neighborhood evolving, and we knew we wanted to spur that on.
Through the collaborative effort of local entrepreneurs, business leaders, and city and government officials, this area has undergone a tremendous transformation, attracting even more top-tier organizations and people. We’re so proud to have been a part of that early groundswell.
One thing that sets Phoenix apart is our spirit of collaboration. In WebPT’s early days, Phoenix lacked cachet and capital for tech development, but a lot has changed. Though we still need more talent development and an anchor on our brilliant university graduates, there’s been an uprising of collaboration among business and community leaders, spurring growth in Phoenix’s tech ecosystem.
The Future of Innovation
Technology and science are part of the foundation in nearly any business, regardless of sector. There’s been a dramatic shift toward innovation over the past 10 years— even in Arizona. But to compete on a global scale—to attract tech companies and develop homegrown tech trailblazers—we need to start educating future generations of technologists by prioritizing early childhood STEM education and proving to our university graduates there are opportunities in Arizona.
Advice & Best Practices
Embrace your community as one of your business’s most important stakeholders. Get involved. Build relationships and give back, and opportunity will present itself— and your community will grow stronger and more supportive. Know yourself—your strengths, passions, superpowers, and purpose. Harnessing these personal attributes will improve you as a leader and entrepreneur.