Vice President of Information Technology at Upstream Rehabilitation
Each and every one of us has a different measure of success that we judge ourselves by. For some, it may be the amount of money earned or praise garnered that demonstrates achievement; for others, it may be simply putting a smile on someone’s face.
At health provider Upstream Rehabilitation, though, success is measured by the trust and love felt by patients and their families through the healing journey.
Currently, Upstream Rehabilitation is continuing its remarkable expansion across the United States. And though the company uses cutting-edge tech across its broad ecosystem of companies and partners, its technology team appreciates that humans will always be required.
Founded in 2004, Upstream Rehabilitation is a portfolio company of Revelstoke Capital Partners and, with more than 1,200 locations in 28 states, is the largest provider dedicated to outpatient physical therapy in the United States. Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, the company provides a comprehensive suite of outpatient and specialised physical therapy services through a network of strong industry-leading brands, including: BenchMark Physical Therapy, Results Physiotherapy, Drayer Physical Therapy, Elite PT, and SERC Physical Therapy.
Jeff Petet is Vice President of Information Technology for Upstream, overseeing the company’s strategic planning, implementation, and management of all IT functions. Before joining Upstream, he led a global software development team, having previously graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from The University of Tennessee, Chattanooga.
“I love working in healthcare,” says Petet. “I love working for an industry whose primary aim is to help people achieve optimal health, it really makes a difference. You're not just manufacturing widgets, you're working for a company that is there to help people.”
A high point for Petet’s team arrived, in his words, alongside the successful merger between Upstream and Drayer Physical Therapy Institute in 2018, shortly after Upstream announced the completion of four partnership acquisitions in Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee, expanding its portfolio of physical therapy businesses.
"We evaluate many expansion opportunities every year looking for strategic partners that share our business philosophy and core values," said Dave Van Name, Upstream Founder and Senior Advisor. "Our merger with Drayer Physical Therapy Institute, in addition to our newest partnership acquisitions, provides a tremendous opportunity to combine the strength of these businesses, continue our growth, and advance our goal to become the provider and employer of choice in the industry."
At the time, the combination of Upstream and Drayer created a single network of more than 560 owned and managed clinics in 27 states serving over four million patients annually. “It took us almost two years to complete all the merger activities on the IT side,” says Petet. “But that success was pivotal to ensuring the future growth of Upstream.”
Upstream has grown more than 700% in the time Petet has been with the company. “When I joined, we had roughly 1,100 associates in less than 200 locations. Today, we have almost 8,000 associates and more than 1,200 locations. That has been a great deal of growth, in terms of technology to keep up with, over the last eight years.”
Petet says he faces many challenges in his role, but a number of them loom large each day – including staffing issues (“Find the right people at the right time,” is his mantra) and interoperability when working with both partners and third-party service providers. “We're doing a lot of joint ventures, so we have to ensure that our systems can integrate with each other,” he explains.
The ongoing digital transformation of the business also keeps his team very busy. “We’re using technology to optimise processes for our associates, so they can better serve our patients,” says Petet.
Technology is embedded throughout the Upstream ecosystem of companies, says Petet, which produces a large amount of internal and external data sets. “And the integration of that data allows us to see how we're doing compared to our appearance in the industry, how our patients feel, and how we're doing against our own internally set benchmarks,” he says.
“Having this data available near in real-time allows our leaders to make quick data-driven decisions to support and improve the patient experience and preview a clinician experience with better outcomes for our patients at lower costs.
“When it comes to digital transformation we’re using technology not just to modernise existing processes, but also to revamp the processes. It's all people-process-technology, so you're using technology to automate things where you can,” says Petet.
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Healthcare organisations are prime targets for cybersecurity threats because of the sensitive and valuable patient data that we hold.