Achieving Sustainable DSO Growth: A Consolidated Approach

Three factors are essential to ensure the success of a Dental Support Organization: a team of clinicians dedicated to providing unparalleled patient care, an optimal treatment schedule, and a pricing structure that aligns patient affordability with practice sustainability.

These three components are the foundation of Sage Dental's organic growth strategy. Since 2018, we have nearly tripled our revenue by combining organic growth with practice portfolio expansion that balances the acquisition of existing practices with the launch of de novo locations.

Growing Acquired and De Novo Practices Organically

Sage has found that successful growth does not simply involve completing an acquisition or building a new practice. Instead, the work of creating sustainable growth usually occurs after the new doors are opened. It is then that we can focus on developing the clinical team, optimizing the schedule, and developing clinical services that both enhance patient care and the financial performance of the practice.

The Clinical Team: Developing New Capabilities

Patients at Sage practices receive care from a superb team of clinicians. Sage dentists, specialists, and hygienists are among the best in the industry. As clinical technology and protocols evolve, however, keeping pace with the leading edge of care is challenging. To help our providers meet this challenge, Sage invests in support staff, training, and equipment. Sage boasts a tremendous network of clinical support personnel for all provider types. We’re particularly proud of our team of Regional Dental Assistants (DAs) – a Sage innovation – which is dedicated full-time to ensuring that all Sage DAs are educated in our latest clinical initiatives and trained to support them.

To advance the skillsets of Sage dentists, we launched the Sage Academies in 2021. The Academies cover specific areas of patient treatment, promoting professional growth for Sage providers and enhanced patient care. Our Implant Academy, for example, has resulted in a four-fold growth in the number of patients receiving implant treatment in less than two years. We have seen similar success from academies focused on clear aligner treatment and all-on-four prosthetics.

Finally, staying on the leading edge requires knowing where the leading edge is going. Sage accomplishes this through a significant R&D effort to identify emerging treatment capabilities, assess and pilot the most promising, and deploy the most proven. This effort has resulted in the deployment of AI-assisted diagnosis throughout the Sage network. We have partnered with Pearl to make artificial intelligence a core part of the Sage patient experience. We think AI clinical applications will continue to develop and will yield remarkable improvements in care.

The Schedule: Getting It Just Right

Success in a dental practice is often associated with the volume of patients a provider treats. We think this focus can be misleading, however. At Sage, we work toward a balanced approach that considers the unique dynamics of each practice, the patients, and the payors.

We focus first on achieving an optimal mix of new and existing patients. While attracting new patients is vital, we place even more importance on patient retention. This perspective is rooted in Sage’s philosophy of patient care. We believe that by offering the best patient experience possible, we are not only securing loyalty but also improving our patients' lives. Patient retention promotes consistency and integration of care over time, contributing significantly to patients’ overall health.

Sage also works to optimize the payor mix within each practice. From FFS, PPO, and DHMO to Discount Plans and Medicare, we believe a diverse payor base brings both a variety of patients and healthier and more profitable business.

Finally, we know that efficient scheduling is critical to the success of each practice. To accomplish this, Sage’s applications development team has created the Insights to Action (i2A) platform. A comprehensive set of applications that integrates with Sage’s practice management, ERP, accounting, and other core systems, i2A provides each practice with a streamlined and efficient way to maintain productive schedules for each provider.

Production Per Patient Visit: The Critical Factor

Perhaps the most critical component of sustainable growth is average production per patient visit (APV).  We think APV is a function of three related elements: procedure mix, procedure fees, and patient education.

Optimizing APV first requires effective patient education and communication. Sage practices are equipped with the latest clinical technologies to make this possible: intraoral scanners, digital imaging, CBCT, AI, etc. These technologies combine with Sage’s i2A system to convey the full range of treatment options to patients. Well-informed patients typically select more complete treatment protocols, which then yields a favorable procedure mix.  And when a favorable procedure mix combines with proper fee schedules, the ideal APV results.

The End Result: Sustainable Growth

Sage’s approach yields a formula for sustainable growth. While straightforward in concept, the formula is nuanced in execution. Successfully leveraging these nuances defines the Sage way.

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