The “chicken-or-the-egg?” The debate essentially revolves around what’s first. For dentistry – specifically DSOs – the discussion could revolve around being first in a digital sense. Even more specific: why digitally mature dental organizations like DSOs have a competitive advantage.
Are first adopters truly ahead of the pack?
That’s a good question. And it’s answered around how the general scope of digital maturity applies across today’s industry leaders – including dentistry.
What is a digitally mature business or organization?
Digital transformation is considered a top priority for organizational strategy. The 2020 pandemic forced more innovative uses of digital technology as well.
Investment in digital projects has increased globally. It’s forecasted that investments will reach $7.4 trillion by 2023. Key tech drivers include:
- Market competition
- Increased customer expectations
- Progressive business challenges 
Leading organizations (such as DSOs) want to discover how they can “mature” digitally. Their digital transformation will rely on clear business objectives on the front-end when adopting technology changes.
Before applying the digital transformation perspective to DSOs let’s define “digital maturity.”
”Digital maturity refers to how well companies adjust to a digital business environment. Those that recognize the need for change and embrace innovation will likely be further into their transformation journey than those who don’t. With digital maturity comes flexibility, and businesses will be able to readily develop a transformation strategy that enables new approaches and identifies workable methods to implement them successfully.” 
That triad creates a path unique to digitally mature DSOs and how they can stay competitive in dentistry.
How digitally mature DSOs will achieve an advantage in an evolving digital environment
Stay flexible and open to change
No doubt, DSO growth has created “juggernaut” references in dentistry. And some of the leading DSOs are now large enough that corporate flexibility is comparable to steering an enormous ship.
Reflection would confirm that it’s not always been that way. If you’re among today’s larger DSOs you once had to embrace a lot of change, adapt, and apply courage to advance.
Somewhere along your journey you had to accept technology advancements. Your flexibility was perhaps driven by the fact that legacy systems and workflows wouldn’t scale for a rapidly expanding organization.
What works for one or two practices becomes less manageable when that number of practices expands to five, 10, 50, 100, or more.
Flexibility becomes the north-star of sorts for your DSO when unforeseen changes (e.g. COVID-19 pandemic) appear on the horizon. Difficult as change is you would likely agree that becoming more digitally mature (thanks to technology advancements) has given you an advantage.
- Digital workflows can replace cumbersome paper-based operational systems
- Digital technology creates more scalable approaches to patient engagement and patient-facing portals that promote convenience, safety, and control.
Digital maturity produces longevity. And that’s a big advantage when change can and does tap your available resources and cash-flow.
Strategize around thinking like a patient
What you want and what patients want are sometimes two different things. DSO culture can become a forest-for-the-trees situation.
These days, remembering that the patient-facing foundation of your organization will naturally lead to being more digitally savvy. Patients want convenience, safety, and security.
And you want to create more efficient ways of providing a good patient experience while being profitable.
As a digitally mature DSO your strategy could include:
- An upgraded online patient environment. Online scheduling, online access to documents, and online payment and billing portals are relevant digital transformations.
- Automation technology that delivers timely patient communication and follow-up workflows.
- Virtual visits via a dedicated teledentistry platform that improves patient consults, appointment pre-qualification, and specialist referrals.
- A digital communication and training portal that connects your entire organization to in-house and outside expertise without requiring travel and related costs.
Being digitally mature aligns with being digitally strategic in your patient-facing and team-building environments.
Innovate intuitively to achieve alignment across your organization
Corporate vision guides each practice in your DSO. Evidence of that vision is often visible in your patient standard of care.
Communication energizes your organization around your shared vision. It’s important to keep the channels open so your teams have a “voice” in the innovation process.
Rolling out a new technology without applying some intuition might cause lack of buy-in for an innovation that would otherwise be good for patients and/or your teams. Some changes require time and intentional team input before it becomes a priority.
- Propose new digital innovations and allow a cross-section of your organization to ask questions, provide input, and gain ownership.
- Pilot digital innovations with a representative segment of your organization. Successes and failures in a smaller sub-set can preserve resources and help assure a broader acceptance when the time is right.
- Provide front-line training to assure that the innovation achieves what it’s designed to do for patients and/or team efficiency.
Test your innovations. It models good leadership (and digital maturity) to your entire organization and the dental industry as a whole.
Digitally mature DSOs are forward-thinking in how they embrace and use technology
Keep your forward-thinking edge with the following resources:
From patient-facing online portals to cloud-based solutions Planet DDS is a leading technology provider for DSOs committed to being digitally mature across their organization.
Planet DDS’s Denticon is the proven cloud-based Dental Practice Management Software in today’s market among solo private practices, private group practices, and top DSOs.
Contact us for more information about how Denticon can streamline your workflow systems and operational tasks that can help you stay digitally on trend.