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How the DSO Dental Model Impacts the Dental Industry

By Planet DDS
February 19, 2020

Perspective is everything. This is especially true as you navigate the conversation surrounding the DSO dental model.

The narrative is important because for you it might define or clarify how you perceive your future in dentistry. And frankly, the discussion doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

In essence, it’s a conversation about your alternatives for providing excellent patient care while running an efficient dental practice. The good news is that you’re no longer locked into one way of doing dentistry or how you approach the business of dentistry.

Now’s the perfect time to sharpen your perspective and clearly understand your options as relates to corporate dentistry.

First things first. Let’s answer the obvious question you might be asking or seeking clarity about.

What is the DSO Dental Model?

Dental support organizations (DSOs) have appeal to a broad swath of the dental industry. You probably recognize that this approach to dentistry is a topic of conversation among those about other top dental trends.

”According to their industry trade group, the Association of Dental Support Organizations, DSOs contract with dental practices to provide critical business management and support including non-clinical operations. The creation of DSOs, also commonly referred to as dental service organizations, have allowed dentists to maximize their practice from a clinical perspective while relying on the DSO to handle the “business side” of their operations through professional office management.

DSOs are structured to provide oversight and accountability within a dental practice relative to their overall operations. Choosing to affiliate with a dental support organization expands your ability to focus on patient care and less on administrative tasks.

The percentage of solo private practices and group practices affiliated with the DSO dental model has steadily increased.

”The American Dental Association Health Policy Institute indicates that 7.4 percent of all practicing US dentists are affiliated with DSOs.”

Being more specific – you might be exiting dental school with a burden of debt to contend with. Or maybe you’re a veteran dentist strapped with a consistent human resources challenge while trying to stay focused on dental care for your growing patient base.

DSOs are equipped to provide relief for those common scenarios. They provide a solution for dentists at every career level or for those seeking specific support to more effectively run their practice.

How Does the DSO Model Work?

As you know, your dental practice has a number of “moving parts.” As a solo practice you have the day-to-day realities associated with providing dental care. Then there’s the business of dentistry that you must handle as well.

That necessary balance of business management and dentistry is common for the American dental practice.

Dental service organizations deliver welcome relief to the business side of running a solo private practice or a private group practice. The DSO model provides essential advantages.

  • The administrative advantage includes HR, marketing, team recruitment and training, billing and payroll.
  • The compensation advantage delivers consistent pay, salary growth incentives, and in some instances, a signing bonus.
  • The insurance advantage can provide more coverage options for your patients as DSOs have access to more providers and related negotiation power.
  • The networking advantage provides you increased access to colleagues, specialists, and CE.
  • The technology advantage allows you to upgrade your equipment and connected services without incurring the overhead.

A survey and extensive data produced by the Oral Health Workforce Research Center (OHWRC) reveals the various ways DSOs define their function. For example…

Think of the DSO model as the necessary structure that supports your dental practice. Your affiliation with a dental service organization gives you added assurance of staying focused on dental care while the business of dentistry functions uninterrupted in the background.

How Does It Impact the Dental Industry?

Bottom line: the DSO model allows dentists to stay focused. You can focus on patients and make the necessary clinical decisions confident that non-clinical operations are professionally covered.

Bill Neumann, CEO of Group Dentistry Now/Join DSO confirms,

”Worrying about the business side of running a dental office can be very time-consuming and distracting…The support organization takes care of the business so the dentist can focus on what they went to school for – dentistry.”

In essence this is the perceived value of dental service organizations to the dental industry. It’s why dentists throughout the United States are making the move…and perhaps why your perspective is being clarified as a result.

The solo private dental practice has been the norm for decades. And it’s still the default model for new and veteran dentists.

That being said, many are pivoting and perceiving the longterm scalability of the DSO model as a better career move.

DSOs are having a significant impact on the dental industry in a number of ways. By taking the business side off of the plates of traditional dentist/owners, those dentists who want to focus solely on clinical excellence have a means of pursuing such an arrangement.”

The common ground of each dental service organization is consistent support. Joining a DSO gives you breathing room and for many that outpaces the perceived and real challenges of how to run a successful dental practice.  

Is the DSO Model Necessary for Dental Practices?

Perception is reality. And if your reality is being overtaken by business management as a practice owner (at the expense of clinical operations)- you can see the appeal of being a DSO dental practice.

Dental groups (and the solo private practice) require a business model that answers the basic question about how to get more dental patients into your office. Alongside that is managing the day-to-day routines common for all brick-and-mortar businesses.

A fair perception about the DSO model and its relevance to your practice is best determined by your longterm ability to balance patient acquisition and care with business efficiency.

The big question that hangs-in-the-air for you is…

What’s the Best Step I Should Take for My Dental Practice?

Your answer could be based on your perception about DSOs in general. Or it could have much to do with the systems you have in place to manage the daily clinical and operational tasks.

One thing is certain whether you choose solo, private practice dentistry, private, group practice dentistry, or the DSO model of dentistry. You can standardize, centralize, and grow your practice with the Planet DDS Denticon Dental Practice Management Software.

Curious how it works? See the Denticon Dental Dashboard in action…

Contact us for more information about how Denticon can streamline your patient care systems including the tasks associated with a DSO affiliated practice.