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The Three Ps: The Importance of Patient, Parent, and Practice in the Dental Industry with Ray Caruso

By Planet DDS
May 2, 2024

In this episode of The Dental Economist Show, host Mike Huffaker is joined by Ray Caruso, the CEO of Lone Peak Dental Group. 

Join them as they discuss: 

  • The best hiring practices
  • Aligning incentives and setting clear expectations
  • Prioritizing patient needs
  • The challenges and strategies of incorporating orthodontics
  • Creating healthy habits that last a lifetime
  • And more!

Ray Caruso has over twenty years of experience in clinical and administrative services in all aspects of dental practices. In 2017, he became the CEO of Lone Peak Dental Group, a Dental Service Organization that supports specialty dental offices in pediatric, orthodontics, and oral surgery. Before Lone Peak Dental Group, Ray worked at Decision One Dental Partners for three and a half years, and at Heartland Dental for ten years. 

Hiring Doctors That Are a Good Fit – Ray believes that dentists who enjoy working with kids tend to have great personalities and low egos—it’s also important for them to have fun and be energetic. He says that they prioritize hiring doctors who share the practice’s mission and values, particularly in serving Medicaid patients: they must enjoy working with kids, having busy days, and working with a large team. 

Incorporating Ortho – Ray highlights the challenges and strategies of incorporating orthodontics into their business. Although initially, orthodontics did not provide a significant benefit to their practices, after focusing on it and tracking key metrics, they saw exponential growth in revenue. They strategically added orthodontic services to select practices that had the space and availability for it. Ray also stresses the importance of training and consistency among orthodontists to ensure a smooth transition and successful integration of orthodontics into the practice. 

Aligning Incentives – Ray emphasizes the importance of aligning incentives and setting clear expectations for team members. He notes that bonuses and incentives are structured based on the success of the practice and individual performance. He mentions that they also periodically reassess their strategies and adjust where needed. For instance, they once had a policy where, if a regional manager’s accounts receivable were poor, they forfeited their bonus—this policy was then changed to account for when the accounts receivable were out of a manager’s control. 

Prioritising Company Objectives – As CEO, every year Ray and his team put out three initiatives for the company. The focus this year is: investment in people, expanding access to care for patients, and scaling up performance. Ray also explains a new approach they have taken to improve performance in underperforming offices. Instead of top-down action plans, they shut down the office for four hours and have the entire team identify issues and create action plans themselves, leading to significant positive changes in their practices.