How a small physical therapy practice turned into a nationally recognized go-to for seniors

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Robyn Kjar, DPT, knew she wanted to be a physical therapist at a young age.

"I grew up with my grandparents in and out of hospitals, in and out of physical therapy departments," she recalled. "My grandmother was a small frail lady from Denmark who always had a broken this or a broken that. She would crack ribs just by opening up windows. And I just saw a physical therapist and I saw the way they interacted with her; I saw them get her walking. I saw them try to get her up and down the steps in our house. And it was always something that was interesting to me," she said.

Dr. Kjar joined Cherry Hill, N.J.-based Fox Rehabilitation in 2002. She became CEO late last year, making her one of the only female CEOs of a national therapy provider.

A seniors-focused physical therapy organization founded by Tim Fox, DPT, in 1998, Fox Rehabilitation works with patients under a business model that uses Medicare Part B to cover in-home physical therapy. Patient visits are completed at assisted-living facilities, nursing homes or wherever patients reside. 

The company has expanded its reach to 21 states.

"It's such a unique and novel way of delivering care, and I think it's still unique and novel 22 years later," she said. "A lot of times, our patients don't have the opportunity to go to an outpatient clinic. They can't drive their cars or they can't get someone to drive them. So us bringing the accessibility to the patient and getting them stronger and providing them clinically excellent care with the great foundation of our culture has just been the best of both worlds."

The in-home approach has served the company well during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It was really the place of choice for treatment because people just wanted that one-on-one care in their homes," she said. "We've seen a lot of our older adults get very debilitated over the last year, year and a half. And we've felt fortunate to be able to go into the home, treat them and get them stronger."

With the worst of the pandemic behind it, Fox is now setting its sights on mergers and acquisitions.

"We're the largest practice that does what we do, but there are a lot of smaller practices across the country. We'd love the opportunity to speak with them about acquiring them," she said. "We're also working a lot on payer diversification; Medicare Advantage plans, bundled plans. We've worked a lot with Optum and the advisory board to package our data, and to really show the cost savings associated with what we do and the way we treat in the home."

Dr. Kjar attributes the success of Fox to what she and her team refer to as "inspired action." 

"I wake up sometimes and I'm like, wow, it's been 20 years. And it doesn't feel like it's been two months," she said. "You have to love what you do."

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