Paul Vigario is the founder and CEO of SurfCT, a design and technology consultancy that has worked with healthcare and dental professionals for over 20 years.
Paul is considered a pioneer in introducing technology systems in dental practice and dental office automation. Together with his team, Paul has helped more than 12,000 practices worldwide.
Vigario started SurfCT from the ground up in 2002 after graduating from the University of Connecticut. Now, more than 20 years later, Paul has molded himself into an expert in complete digital workflow systems, practice automation, and practice growth technologies.
Paul has a vision for creating new possibilities in the healthcare industry by transforming a historically conservative sector with innovation, experience, and an expansive foresight of what healthcare should look like in the 21st century.
Dedication, vision and execution: Paul Vigario’s 20-year journey to empower doctors and their patients
The story of SurfCT, a technology and design company servicing thousands of private medical and dental practices around the country, started in 2002. It began at the University of Connecticut, where Paul Vigario, now a successful entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and dental technology pioneer, was getting his degree in IT.
“I remember in one of my classes a professor asked the students if we thought a doctor in private practice would benefit from having a full IT department,” described Paul Vigario.
“And, of course, everyone said ‘yes’. Then he went on to ask if we also thought that having a full-fledged IT department would be feasible for a doctor in private practice. And many of the students responded with a ‘no.’ I, on the other hand, never thought that money should get in the way of a good idea.”
Before his vision was fully formed, Paul decided to get hands-on experience working at a local hospital to see how medical facilities operated in real life. His time there gave him an idea that would later become the basis of Paul’s business.
“Yes, it doesn’t seem financially feasible for a doctor in private practice to have a full IT department,” thought Vigario. “But if you divide the costs among hundreds of doctors, thousands of doctors, it could be a win-win-win for all parties.”
Paul presented his paper to the university, and they loved it. That was the start of SurfCT, a technology consultancy that has helped more than 12,000 practices in the past 20 years realize their vision and achieve better outcomes for patients.
There have been many challenges along the way. At the very start of his entrepreneurial journey, Paul was preoccupied with finding the right talent, getting the message out and sharing this new possibility with the world – a possibility that a doctor in private practice could focus on medicine while a team of professionals would take care of every little detail around design and technology.
But after two decades, the idea of SurfCT has evolved. The company went from “an IT department for private practitioners”, which was revolutionary back in 2002, to “the team that understands how to create world-renowned healthcare brands and automate through design and technology.”
“We started to learn more about patient experience and anticipate what patients, doctors and the whole team needed to be successful. We became a company that blends a doctor’s brand with design and technology and creates automation to achieve greater outcomes for everyone involved. Now, we empower doctors to realize their visions,” said Paul Vigario.
Looking back at how things unfolded, Paul recognizes three crucial components that led the company to growth: dedication, vision and execution.
“I always like to say that vision combined with control equals success. We had a vision from the get-go, then we added control with our systems and created success for ourselves and our clients and partners,” added Vigario.
The team at SurfCT has gone through economic downturns, technological pivots, and COVID-19. But the most difficult period, according to the CEO, was the financial crisis of 2008.
“The company was still young, and I wasn’t sure how to navigate a situation like that. But we did survive. I did a ‘postmortem’ and examined what happened so the whole team could learn from it. Our main lesson – you need to be ahead of the curb. The market is like a sea, you get high tides and low tides, and you really need to anticipate them. Anticipate and get ahead of them,” shared Vigario.
“Entrepreneurs are always going to be faced with all sorts of challenges, but it’s important to have a strong vision and maintain the course. The challenges now may be different from the ones I encountered in 2002, but the principles of overcoming them are always the same. You want to have a strong vision, you want to have control, and you want to be flexible to anticipate what’s going to happen next.”
Vigario also advises business-minded people to surround themselves with industry leaders and professionals who can provide mentorship and support.
“Generally, I try to surround myself with people who already are where I want to be. Because they know how to get there,” revealed Vigario.
When asked about the team’s goals for the future, Paul shared that they don’t believe in goals at SurfCT, preferring a more systematic approach.
“Goals are a bit fleeting: you get to your goal and become excited for a day or two, but then quickly move on to the next thing. Then you become consumed with finding new goals. We have a more systematic approach. We’re constantly building our systems upward like a skyscraper. But we also keep focusing on our vision to create extraordinary lives and outcomes for our clients and team members,” commented Vigario.