Personal note from Owner, Dr. Mike Wehrhahn.
The idea of Next Level, that there had to be a better way in Physical Therapy, started in 2010.
Justin and I were in college for Physical Therapy. We were excited to become PTs and help people. But as time went on, we were seeing the reality of our industry. Each time we came back from a clinical internship, we were drained by what we experienced. Clinics just focused on billing, and PTs just being slaves to insurance companies.
I remember treating 35 patients in one day as a student intern. I was praised for how efficient I was… but how sad is that? A student who knows nothing, being praised because he billed like a full time PT. Not that he changed a patient’s life, but that he managed to bill 35 people in a day. It was demoralizing.
This was when we started talking about creating a completely different path.
We first started with the idea that maybe the problem was that the industry was too old and outdated. That we needed to bring innovation. So we created a mobile app called RevoPT. It allowed PT to create personalized video based exercise programs for their clients. You can watch a presentation we gave to some of the biggest tech investors in the East Coast.
So, we ended up getting national attention, won multiple awards, got offered over a quarter million dollars in investment, and was also chosen by the American Physical Therapy Association to be featured at their Annual event in Las Vegas.
Here is the thing, we believed we were doing what was best for PT. That this would revolutionize our industry. That it would be celebrated and we’d be supported by our school. Guess what… They hated it.
They could not stand the fact that we were trying to do something different. We had to beg a professor to allow us to take an exam early b/c we needed to attend that event you saw in the video. She made us feel guilty for going.
When we were featured by the APTA, they did not say a word.
One time, they brought all the faculty together, called Justin into the office, sat him down, and asked him to switch his major to business. He had a 3.9 GPA with one year left to get his degree. He asked them if they would give this advice to their own kids and walked out on them.
We were so sickened by our industry. We wanted nothing to do with it. There wasn’t any place that genuinely cared for their patients, and it was clear that any change… any action to do it differently… would be scrutinized.
Ultimately we were left drained and disappointed after school. Justin moved to California and I went to Indiana for a clinical mentorship program.
3 years pass by…
And in those years I’d taken a bunch of courses and studied under some great teachers. I started to feel like there was still a way. That the vision for a completely different path was still possible. I started testing it out. I rented out a small room and started treating people the way I knew would be best for them. It was not the traditional “basic PT” everyone is doing, but it was working 100x better. Word was getting out and I started getting more and more clients.
That’s when I called Justin and asked if he wanted to go at this again. He said absolutely, and moved back to NJ to do it again together.
And here we are now. Next Level has come back to life stronger than ever.
When I reflect on how Next Level started, it was the courage of 2 individuals who knew there was a better way. And were daring enough to go for it, even when they were told no.
And we managed to persist long enough to attract a team who shared the same values and perspective.
The beauty of it is, we are now a place that can give hope to people who have the courage to trust their guts and go for a better way too.
People are constantly being misguided. They are getting unnecessary surgeries and medication. They are being told to just “deal with it.” Or that “it comes with age.” When deep down inside, they know there has to be a better way.
And we at Next Level are thrilled that we are that answer. That we can be the reason our clients can say, “I told you so!”