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Meet the Founders

Al Amato and Ben Johnston Founders of FOTOAl Amato & Ben Johnston

Ben Johnston Jr., PT

Mr. Johnston is Founder and Co-Owner of FOTO. He has a BS from Washington State University and a Certificate of Physical Therapy from Stanford University.  Ben has fifty-four years of experience as a physical therapist; fifty-one years in hands-on management of physical therapy organizations, including start-up, rapid growth and turn around objectives; four years as Sr. Vice President for Professional Services of RehabClinics / NovaCare, a publicly traded entity, with 1200 employees; seven years as a lecturer and consultant in management of a clinical education seminar business. He has also written three books on management of physical therapy services. Ben has been involved with FOTO since the beginning; first, as a representative of RehabClinics on the founding board and then as FOTO's first CEO. He is an ordained Permanent Deacon in the Knoxville Diocese of the Catholic Church. He is married with 12 and 13 year old adopted sons in the home, and he has three grown children raising 8 grandchildren.

Al Amato, MBA, PT

Mr. Amato is President and Co-Owner of FOTO.  He has a B.S. in Physical Therapy and a Masters of Business Administration from St. Louis University. He has over forty years of experience as a Physical therapist. He started the first physical therapy private practice in the St. Louis, MO area.  His company became the largest local provider of outpatient and contract services before being sold to a national company, MedRehab, Inc.  As a vice president of professional affairs for that company and manager of the Missouri operations, Mr. Amato continued to grow the local company and influence product development and quality care issues for the national company. He purchased FOTO from the founding group in 1992 and established FOTO as a private outcomes management and reporting company in 1994. 

(One of the Original Founders) 

Dennis L. Hart, PhD, PT

2/3/1948 - 4/11/2012

Dennis L. Hart, One of FOTO's Original Founders

Awards & Achievements

  • Dennis L. Hart Research Grant & Award
  • Recipient of the APTA Rose Award for lifetime research achievement

In the arms of Anita, his wife and lifetime immediate partner, and in the presence of his two beloved sons, Daniel and Justin, Dennis peacefully passed from this world.  He is preceded in death by Kenneth C. Hart, his father and Kenneth D. Hart, his brother.  His surviving family includes his mother Mary Jane Criscuolo, of Osprey, Florida, his two daughters-in-law, Heather, Justin’s wife, and Vanessa, Dan’s wife and their three daughters Alisa, Madison and Sarah.

His lifetime passion was one of searching for truth and understanding on a personal level and professional level.  His scientific contributions using modern psychometric mathematics revolutionized the careers of countless physical therapists throughout the US and the world by leading clinicians to better patient management as they guide their patients through their rehabilitation process.

He earned his BS in physical therapy at Northeastern University, his MPA in public administration at New Haven University and his PhD in industrial engineering at West Virginia University.  He has held academic positions at Quinnipiac College in Connecticut, Medical College of Georgia, West Virginia University and George Washington University.

After practicing clinical physical therapy at Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, he spent 15 years in academic institutions teaching and perfecting ways of measuring function in people with musculoskeletal pain syndromes with particular emphasis on improving workers’ safety and ergonomics at the worksite.  For 10 years he owned and managed Assessment Centers Technology, a private physical therapy practice, with offices in Virginia and Maryland, which was dedicated to providing Functional Capacity Evaluations, work conditioning/hardening clinical services, and industrial ergonomic services.

Dr. Hart directed the treatment outcomes process for Rehability Corporation.  He was a founding member of Focus On Therapeutic Outcomes, Inc. (FOTO) and served as the Director of Consulting and Research of FOTO for 13.5 years.  During his career at FOTO, he analyzed patient outcomes data using item response theory and computer adaptive testing processes.  His passion led to the development and publication of practical, reliable, and valid patient functional outcome measurement tools used extensively by physical therapists in the US and Israel in everyday clinical practice management.  These tools lead to improved responsiveness to each patient’s functional status during their progression through the rehabilitation process.  Throughout his career he continually provided consultation services and expert witness testimony in this field through Hart Ergonomic Consulting.

Dennis was an active peer-reviewer for many medical and physical therapy journals and was a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Rehabilitation Outcomes Measurement.  He was a reviewer for National Institute of Health (NIH) SBIR grants, related to the science of IRT, CAT and ergonomics.  He has published over 100 articles in scientifically refereed journals including Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, Quality of Life Research, Physical Therapy, Spine, Work, Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Orthopedics and Related Research, Experimental Neurology, Journal of Orthopedics and Sports Physical Therapy, Journal of Rehabilitation Outcomes Measurement, Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, Journal of Manual Manipulative Therapy, PT Magazine and Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, as well as authoring contributing chapters in three texts on industrial rehabilitation.

In addition to his family and career, his passions included US history, sailing, bird watching, oyster gardening under the dock at his White Stone, Virginia home, and searching for the best glass of wine or good chocolate.  During his last 18 months, he and Anita valiantly searched for the answers needed in his battle with melanoma and relied on their deep faith in God for the strength and courage to face the challenges.

A celebration of his life will be held at the Morattico Baptist Church in Kilmarnock, Virginia on Sunday, May 6th at 2 PM with a reception to follow the services.  The family request that memorial contributions be made to the Wounded Warrior Project (http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/) or Aim at Melanoma (http://www.aimatmelanoma.org/en/index.html).

Finally, Dennis, you now know all of the answers.  We pray for peace to you, our husband, father, grandfather, mentor, dear friend, colleague and teacher.  We dearly miss you.  Please pray for us to have the strength and passion to continue your search. “Talk to you later”.

Letter from Ben

 “We support clinical excellence by perfecting measurement…” This mission involves increasing the efficiency, precision and sensitivity of the historically chosen measures and adding measures that have not existed for the new treatments our colleagues are providing such as pelvic floor, neurological and lymphedema disorders. This mission to meet all the measurement needs of our multidiscipline providers requires an aggressive agenda supported by research and development expertise.

Dr. Hart’s legacy, FOTO’s Research Advisory Board, has worked all year, guiding our development. The dozens of recommendations they have provided FOTO have been in development and include:

  • a refined Cervical Spine CAT
  • improved proxy procedures
  • upgraded non-participation audit surveys
  • evaluation of the aggregation and reporting of the change in pain intensity
  • the addition of the new functional staging patient specific report
  • the addition of single item socioeconomic screen question
  • the addition of many optional surveys
  • the development of post care follow-up surveys
  • the development of stroke, pelvic floor dysfunction and lymphedema measures
  • improved smart phone and web site marketing application.  

As FOTO continues to improve and set the standard of measurement, it is our hope that the new measurement options in the market will follow our lead so that all measurement advances our profession.

FOTO continues to pledge to our entire community of providers that we will maintain our focus on our long-term mission to support clinical excellence by perfecting measurement and standardizing, on demand, reporting of comparative quality and value, and our vision that FOTO will be essential to the improvement of clinical excellence and the proof of quality and value to all stakeholders in Health Care.

It is FOTO’s objective to be a true partner to our providers as they efficiently Measure their Outcomes, Manage their Quality, and Market their Strengths as we evolve together toward a payment system that will better represent our value to our patients.

As always, FOTO remains at your service and is anxious to hear ways in which we can improve our assessment and outcomes processes.

Ben E. Johnston, PT, Founder