Blog Post

8 Reasons to Attend Ascend 2024

Ascend 2024 promises opportunities to learn, grow, network, and cut loose. Here's why you want to join us in Chicago this September.

Heidi Jannenga
5 min read
July 3, 2024
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Do you feel it? The warmer weather and longer days can only mean one thing: Ascend 2024 is right around the corner! Okay, maybe there’s some patient care, family vacations, kids’ soccer games, software releases, and pool days between now and then, but the next Ascend is coming fast for those of us helping to pull together this year’s event. The question is, how do you top last year’s incredible ten-year anniversary celebration in our hometown of Phoenix? (A killer invite video is a great start.)  

We can’t kick off our second decade of Ascend just anywhere—which is why we chose Chicago, the capital of the Midwest, as the site of this year’s event. There are probably few cities that embody our theme of “Mapping the Future” as well as the City of Broad Shoulders; it represents the hard-working nature of its residents and reflects the industriousness of our own profession as we continue to push for agency as the MSK providers of choice. Chicago has reinvented itself time and again over its existence, and that spirit is a big part of Ascend, where we aim to tear down the status quo and small-minded thinking and rebuild for a bigger and brighter future for rehab therapists. 

Still not convinced? Here are a few more reasons why you should attend Ascend.   

1. The Second City will have second-to-none speakers. 

No matter where we’re hosting Ascend, we are known to bring it when it comes to our speaker lineup. And I feel comfortable saying that our roster this year stacks up to the ‘85 Bears or ‘96 Bulls—lofty praise, I know. Here are just a few of the speakers who’ll be at Ascend this year:

  • Amy Lafko will help attendees discover strategies for mapping their talent’s career path to enhance their professional growth and boost your staff retention.
  • Brandon Seigel will encourage practice leaders to think outside the box and reexamine their business approach. This will allow them to tap into new revenue streams and redefine how they diversify services, income, and scale.
  • Pedro Teixeira will lead listeners through a conversation on how real-time, AI-driven documentation support tools can help reduce the time spent on coding and documentation and reduce the burnout plaguing our profession. 
  • Rick Gawenda will help attendees identify the key metrics and business fundamentals rehab therapy practices need to be looking at to build their budget and set themselves up for success in 2025 and beyond.  
  • Karen Litzy and Stephanie Weyrauch will guide attendees through some of the best practices for building strategic partnerships with physicians, gyms, and other organizations that can extend your reach and increase your referrals and revenue streams. 
  • Speaking of diversification, Scott Hebert and Ryan Klepps of Second Door Health will be offering a primer on direct-to-employer contracting—one of the biggest growth trends as employers look to save money on healthcare as they shift towards self-insured models.  
  • And of course, WebPT’s own compliance expert John Wallace discusses what you need to know about renegotiating payer contracts, as well as the financial and compliance implications of going out-of-network with payers—including Medicare.  

2. You’ll leave with ideas you can use. 

Chicago’s Windy City nickname may have come about in part to the hot air coming from the city’s politicians and citizens—but at Ascend, we’re about more than just talk. Our speakers build their sessions to give attendees actionable insights on some of the biggest challenges and opportunities we’re seeing in the profession today. Plus, we always build in lots of Q&A time to ensure you have clarity on the topics that are top of mind for you.

For example, we’re not just rehashing the staffing problems that everyone already knows about; our experts are sharing innovative ways to better recruit new talent and out-of-the-box thinking on ways to retain the workforce you already have. As excited as you’ll be during these incredible sessions, we want you to be just as excited to get back to your practice armed and ready to start implementing the ideas you’ve learned about at Ascend.  

3. You’ll have networking opportunities you can't get anywhere else. 

It wouldn’t be Ascend without the chance to rub elbows and trade stories with your rehab therapy peers. I truly believe—and it's been said over and over by previous attendees— that, in addition to our great content, our networking is what makes Ascend an unparalleled industry event. We’ve intentionally built in multiple opportunities throughout our schedule for people to bump into old friends, make new ones, and discuss some of the big ideas that are being presented. I love the stories I've heard from WebPT Members and attendees of the innovation and partnerships that have grown out of chance meetings at Ascend—and I know we can create a few more this year! 

And speaking of one-of-a-kind networking, our Friday night happy hour will be hosted at the legendary Soldier Field, right on the lakefront. So get ready to “Bear Down” and make every play to clear the way for networking victory!

4. You’ll get a sneak peek at the latest in rehab therapy innovation. 

You know how particular Chicagoans are about their hot dogs and what you can put on them? That’s how picky we are when it comes to the vendors we feature at Ascend. We don’t just want to show you what the current hot technology is; we’re finding the companies that are innovating the tools, services, and software that are going to add the most value for your business and improve patient care. Plus, be the first to get keen insights into new WebPT releases that are guaranteed to improve your clinic efficiency and help improve your bottom line.

What sets our vendors apart isn’t just about innovation, though; it’s about the people. Of course everyone’s passionate about their product—but they are equally passionate about our profession as well. That’s why we provide ample time to check out demos and chat with our vendors without the hard sell of other tradeshows.

5. You’ll enjoy a “Taste” of Chicago.

Everything that Ascend has to offer is worth the trip alone—but it doesn’t hurt to be hosting it in one of America’s great cities. If you’ve been to Chicago, you know that electric feeling you get the moment you step off the plane. That iconic skyline set against Lake Michigan never fails to amaze, and the city offers endless choices for food, drink, and entertainment. Whether you want to walk through the park district, take an architecture tour down the Chicago River, or take in a game from the bleachers at Wrigley Field, there’s plenty to do when you’re done with sessions for the day or if you decide to hang out for the rest of the weekend. 

I must brag a little here, in that we do have quite the reputation for curating great venues that include amazing, healthy, delicious local food options at our events. While some might argue about the rankings offered on various websites, there’s no debate that Chicago is a foodie’s paradise, whether you’re more of an Original Beef of Chicagoland person or the type to enjoy the haute cuisine of The Bear. (Shoutout to one of the best TV shows on right now.) Our location spot at the Marriott Marquis Chicago McCormick Place means we will be in the heart of the city with great options included during the event and plenty of delicacies for you to try out on your own.  

6. You’ll earn some CEUs. 

We all know it can be hard to find the time in your schedule to get the CEU credits you need—so we’ve got you covered. Why not mix a little fun and networking with some education? Ascend attendees will be able to gain CEUs, pending approval from state APTA chapters and the AOTA. Better yet, we make it easy for you to log your attendance at the different sessions, along with a report of the CEUs earned for the event.

7. You could leave an award winner. 

Every clinician is a winner in our books — but for the ones who really stand out from the crowd, we’ve got something special. Every year we hand out the Innovator of the Year and Practice of the Year awards to a pair of deserving candidates who have displayed their innovative, trailblazing ideas and their growth and success, respectively. It’s the only program recognizing the outstanding business success of outpatient rehab therapists, and best of all it’s open to everyone — no entry fee required. If you want to throw your hat into the ring, check out the Awards page on our Ascend website to find the application form. These awards have become a coveted mark of accomplishment and something attendees look forward with anticipation to each year.

8. You’ll get your money’s worth. 

Between Ascend and the debut of a certain Heisman-winning quarterback, Chicago is the place to be this September! Hopefully, you took advantage of our early bird pricing to get a great deal on our tickets, but even if you haven’t, you’re still getting great value at full price.   

I say this every year, but it does bear repeating (pun intended): Ascend is a must-attend event for everyone, whether you use our software or not. Our Events team pulls out all the stops to make sure that every session is engaging and thought-provoking, and every attendee has a great time and leaves feeling better prepared to take their careers and their practice to the next level. But you don’t have to take my word for it; check out this highlight reel from last year’s Ascend, where, as the kids would say, Ascend was fire and the vibes were immaculate. I hope we’ll see you in Chicago!


KLAS award logo for 2024 Best-in-KLAS Outpatient Therapy/Rehab
Best in KLAS  2024
G2 rating official logo
Leader Spring 2024
Capterra logo
Most Loved Workplace 2023
TrustRadius logo
Most Loved 2024
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