7 DSO leaders on consolidation, trends and challenges in dentistry

Many DSOs have worked hard this year to expand their networks and create industry partnerships that will advance patient care, but have had to face the same trends and challenges as smaller dental practices across the U.S. 

Here are seven DSO perspectives shared with Becker's so far this year:

Flexibility in dentistry post-COVID: Q&A with Sage Dental's Jim Mizouni

Jim Mizouni. Chief Development Officer of Sage Dental (Boca Raton, Fla.): It's just a matter of being flexible to the change in business dynamic. The other thing is that it's also more challenging in some cases from a recruiting standpoint. That's something that everybody's experienced. Even on the dentist side, it's getting more competitive as you have a lot of DSOs growing simultaneously and they all tend to be focused on the same markets. I think it's a great time potentially to be a dentist or hygienist because you have more people competing for your services, but it forces the DSO to really be much more thoughtful about why us, what are we going to provide them so that we become an employer of choice. So electrical panels or doors or countertops or autoclaves or whatever, you can solve for that. I think it's simultaneously the human capital part of it that really has been challenging for everybody.

Guardian Dentistry Partners on track to 140+ practices in 2022: Q&A with Dr. Hisham Barakat

Hisham Barakat, DDS. Chief Clinical Officer of Guardian Dentistry Partners (Miami): We're not into changing the way they do things. We're there to support and accomplish what they've been successful doing already. The best part about Guardian is that we basically share best practices. So if the partner has something that they've built that could benefit the other partners, we share it across and say, "Hey, our other partner in this region is doing it this way. Would you like to talk to them? Would you like to meet with them? Would you like to visit them and see how they've accomplished it?" And so on and so forth.

1 DSO's journey to becoming 1 of the fastest growing companies in the US: Q&A

Jonathan Mason, DMD. Co-founder and Chief Clinical Officer of Select Dental Management (Florham Park, N.J.): I think [COVID-19] was our biggest challenge, and our biggest success was we took those two months of the shutdown and stepped back, and that was the beginning of really revamping our clinical team. We aligned our values, we just got really together as a leadership team on what we wanted to do, set goals for the future [and] how we're going to do it. Coming out of that was probably our greatest success in order to ramp up our acquisition. That was really where a lot of our growth came because we set that for two months and prepared ourselves [on] how we wanted to grow into the future, what kind of doctors we wanted to partner with, what practices we wanted to partner with. And that was the beginning to setting the foundation for being able to grow and acquire and also grow the practices we had already partnered with.

Ahead of its 100th practice opening, Dental365's growth shows no signs of slowing: Q&A with Dr. Joshua Gish

Joshua Gish, DDS. Senior Vice President of Clinical Affairs and Head of Oral Surgery at Dental365 (New Hyde Park, N.Y.): We have some fairly universal challenges. One of the biggest ones for us is, we really do have a robust, best-in-class business development team, but it's very difficult to sort through the hundreds of opportunities that are inbound that get presented to us. We find that we actually turn down far more practices than we choose to affiliate with. That's just trying to find the right partner for us and for us to be the right partner for these practices and these doctors. Some of the universal challenges that we face are just like everybody else. Staffing — the labor market is very difficult these days. We're seeing a lot of wage inflation, trying to get people trained to help us in our growth. We see a decent number of IT challenges as some of the practices that we take over have existing infrastructure issues, normal supply chain constraints, sourcing products for our doctors. A lot of that really spans across the entire industry.

3 roadblocks DSOs face, per dental execs

Kristi Crum. CEO of Rock Dental Brands: One of the biggest challenges that we face is the misinformation that is out in the market about DSOs. It's important for providers who are considering joining a dental group to understand that all DSOs are not the same. Many providers think that by joining, they will lose their autonomy or that it's only an option for retiring doctors. At Rock Dental Brands, we were founded based on the principles of clinical autonomy and we partner with doctors throughout all stages of their careers. Our doctors can decide how much they want to be involved in the back-office and administrative functions. They are provided top-notch support from subject matter experts so they don't have to take on the burden themselves and they can focus on taking care of patients. DSOs are not just for retiring doctors; it is a great opportunity for less-tenured doctors to learn from like-minded peers, have geographical career options and tremendous wealth-building opportunities. It's critical that providers interested in joining a DSO ask the right questions to ensure that the organization is a good fit to meet their business and personal goals.

How DSOs are keeping dentist autonomy top of mind

Kelly Jastremski, DDS. CEO of P1 Dental Partners (Indianapolis): Keeping doctor clinical autonomy is critical and is best accomplished by not having quotas for specific procedures. Additionally, not having corporate management, especially those without clinical experience, questioning doctors' proposed treatment. Expecting practice growth is reasonable and best accomplished by clinical diversification and efficiencies. The goal should be understanding what a doctor wants to learn and then supporting that interest with appropriate [continuing education] or partnering them with a mentor.

Heartland Dental sets sights on continued growth in 2022: Q&A with CEO Pat Bauer

Pat Bauer. President and CEO of Heartland Dental (Effingham, Ill.): Inflation is going to be an issue, so we're all dealing with that. How do you put the right fees for our services [and] at the same time you have everybody else wanting more increases, so that's always a battle. There's nothing new, except this year we know that there's a lot more pressure and we've been pretty good at supporting our doctors with the suppliers that we have. So we're pretty fortunate, but it's going to be pressure all the time. Interest rates are going to be a struggle as we grow, because then you have more interest that you have to be taking care of, but we don't think that will affect us in 2022 as much as maybe the years after that. 

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