Heidi Jannenga was a college basketball star at the University of California-Davis when she landed awkwardly on a routine layup and blew out her knee. This devastating injury may have derailed her athletic career, but it inspired her to pursue her passion for improving the lives of aspiring athletes by creating a $100 million digital medical records empire.
After graduation, she became a sports therapist in Phoenix and then a director of a physical therapy clinic. She worked with LPGA golfers, members of the Phoenix Suns, professional women’s soccer players, and even WWE wrestlers.
After gaining first-hand experience in the physical therapy industry, she realized that the volumes of paper records required by therapists were cumbersome, inefficient, and prohibitive, which wasted both the time and money of clinics and therapists. Therapists are required to document everything: from treatment plans to patient progress to the number of sets and reps that clients perform. Keeping paper copies of these files in manila folders seemed like an outdated system.
She was correct beyond her wildest dreams.
In 2008, she and a software developer began laying out a digital system to archive and share these records. WebPT was born, launching in a warehouse office space in downtown Phoenix. The company provided the first-ever cloud-based electronic medical record system for physical therapists and word spread quickly.
“We introduced technology that completely disrupted the profession, considering 80% of physical therapists at the time were still using pen and paper for documentation,” Jannenga explains. “WebPT led a digital revolution that has forever changed the industry.”
The new company immersed itself in the downtown Phoenix community and has worked with local elected officials to help build the Warehouse District into a start-up-friendly “Innovation District.” The company prioritizes hiring locals, recruiting locally, and taking part in a variety of community improvement endeavors, including partnering with Habitat for Humanity, which is spearheading community development efforts in the area, and assisting with regular community cleanup projects. The company has also held vaccine clinics and supports local nonprofits, including the LGBTQ organization, Phoenix Pride, and the business training program, Junior Achievement BizTown.
“We want to see more businesses filter into the area and continue to develop the collaborative energy pulsing through the Warehouse District,” Jannenga says. “The resurgence of entrepreneurs plugging into the area is amazing. But we must also remember that gentrification and revitalization do not have to happen at the expense of the longtime neighborhood residents—we want to embrace and celebrate them like a boat in the rising tide.”
WebPT has landed on ICIC’s list of the 100 fastest-growing urban businesses several times and is again on the list for 2021, as revenue for the rapidly expanding company eclipsed $100 million in 2020. The company now has more than 800 full-time employees, including 300+ in Phoenix, and has nearly 150,000 therapists using its platforms nationwide.
“ICIC has helped demonstrate that investing in under-resourced communities is worthwhile and impactful,” Jannenga says. “Sharing the successes of companies who are making a difference in these communities, outside of the typical ‘tech hubs,’ sets a strong example for companies who want to create jobs, income, and wealth for local residents. WebPT has humble roots in the warehouse district of downtown Phoenix. We see our unique neighborhood as a special place, not only because it’s home to WebPT, but also because of the other people, businesses, and families in the community who call it home. ICIC helps others demonstrate the value and impact of their own urban neighborhoods.”
The future is bright for the woman-owned company as it’s coming off the third year of record growth. But there is more work to be done, as WebPT’s next focus is expanding outreach to communities where physical therapy is more difficult to access. The company has set a goal to increase the number of patients accessing physical therapy by 10 percent over the next 10 years through partnerships with ratepayers, employees, consumers, and insurers.
The company is also looking to leverage artificial intelligence technology to create more 24/7 options for patient treatment.
“The unfortunate but true fact is that most people who could benefit from rehab therapy are not receiving it,” Jannenga says. “There is immense opportunity to continue driving rehab therapy clinic growth, including expanding services, improving operations and enabling technology.”
Fostering a diverse workforce and customer base, empowering communities, and unlocking barriers to access services is also key as the company enters its next phase.
“We believe that innovation a
nd passion flourish when employees of all identities and backgrounds feel empowered, valued, and included,” Jannenga adds. “WebPT’s leadership team credits the company’s success over the years to its people-first approach to business. We are intentional in efforts to make each and every team member feel as though they are a true stakeholder, and are given respect and a voice.”
ICIC has identified and celebrated the 100 fastest-growing businesses in under-resourced communities across the nation since 1999. Inner City 100 (IC100) awards are published annually and will be unveiled at ICIC’s Annual Conference in December 2022. The application for 2022 is now closed.
To learn more about ICIC’s other programs, visit https://icic.org/urban-business-initiatives/.
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