When I started my dental practice in West Caldwell, New Jersey, in early 2011, I knew just having state-of-the-art equipment and a top-notch staff wouldn’t be enough to sustain a successful practice – it was also critical to have a method for engaging with patients in the digital age.
On the recommendation of trusted colleague Dr. Lee Frost, I turned to the cloud-based Solutionreach platform for its engagement tools that combined high-tech automation with high-touch personalization. At that time I had no way to know that the platform would help save my practice from one of the worst natural disasters in recent history in less than two short years.
Hurricane Sandy touched down in late 2012 and decimated much of New Jersey, washing out roads, leaving hundreds of thousands without power, and obliterating phone lines. The sheer destructive impact of the storm took its toll on every aspect of daily life. It was days before the chaos subsided, and survivors spent weeks dealing with the devastating aftermath.
My office survived the physical damage from the storm, but I was faced with the daunting task of communicating with patients who didn’t have power or phones. Luckily, cell phone service was still largely available to many residents, and my office was able to coordinate with our Solutionreach representative to create a communications plan utilizing text and email messages.
The Masella Family Dental team used the Solutionreach platform to communicate with patients about existing appointments and the general status of the office. Because the platform is cloud-based, the necessary information for making and keeping appointments remained available. Not only was our office able to seamlessly continue operations, I also was able to serve many new referrals who couldn’t reach their regular dentists. In a chaotic situation where timely information and accessibility were hot commodities, modern technology provided us with a reliable and efficient workaround.
A year later, I credit the advances in patient engagement that Solutionreach equipped my practice with for keeping it viable during a very turbulent time. Cloud technology helped my practice weather the storm, without sacrificing the personalized interaction that patients have come to expect from Masella Family Dental.
Now with the crisis in the past, this same technology remains an important component of daily life for my practice. From automating basic appointment reminders and day-to-day operations to the critical task of remaining engaged with patients between visits or follow up care, I depend on this technology to maintain the upward momentum my practice started in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath.
We customize and automate surveys that track and measure patient satisfaction so we can respond to feedback and keep our patients invested in their own experience. We use the automated system to send personalized birthday wishes, which has been an excellent way of building patient loyalty and solidifying relationships. We also send customized newsletters, which have been a great way for us to stay in touch with patients between appointments providing them with reliable information and education as well as keeping them informed about our products, services, and practice news. In fact, I recently created a newsletter – complete with photos – to let our patients know about a golf tournament the company sponsored.
In order to stay competitive, dental practices need to find innovative ways to meet growing expectations for quality service, while building engaged relationships that encourage loyalty and patient retention. Cloud-native technology offers tools for meeting these needs and, as I can attest, it can keep a dental practice afloat – even when the clouds darken.
About the author:
Dr. Michael Masella is truly a home grown dentist. He grew up in West Caldwell, N.J. and eventually graduated from New Jersey Dental School. He continued his training at Mountainside Hospital for his General Practice Residency. Dr. Masella now owns Masella Family Dental where he practices general, cosmetic and implant dentistry. His career has come full circle now that he teaches at Mountainside Hospital. Dr. Masella enjoys mentoring the residents in treatment planning and implant dentistry. He married Dr. Lindsay Scoggins, an oral surgeon, and they live in Pine Brook, NJ with their two sons Tyler and Shane. Dr Masella¹s passion for dentistry is very strong and practices by the motto, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” He has surrounded himself with a great team of assistants and staff and enjoys practicing with his uncle Dr. Tom Masella the former owner of the practice.