What dental professionals told us in December

Practice growth, integrated medical-dental care and financial challenges were among some of the topics dental professionals spoke with Becker's about this month. 

What we heard in December: 

Why Pacific Dental, MemorialCare and Epic are striving to integrate dental, medical care

Mark Schafer, MD. CEO of MemorialCare Medical Group (Fountain Valley, Calif.): "I think that we will see a significant growth in dental and medical integration over the next five years. Right now, it's been really kind of limited to the academic centers, primarily where they have dental schools and medical schools, there's been some small degree of integration there. We're the first in the country to have a private, large dental organization with a large medical organization integrated in the United States."

PepperPointe Partnerships' core focuses to drive growth in 2023

Greg White, DMD. President and CEO of PepperPointe Partnerships (Lexington, Ky.): At PepperPointe, we'll continue to build on the high quality of care and support we provide our doctors to ensure they and their practices become the very best version of themselves. We want to attract the very best clinicians and individuals who share our core values, which begin and end with viewing every decision based on what is in the best interest of the patient. As long as we focus on these details, PepperPointe will continue to grow and thrive.

How dentists are working to drive down operating costs

Matt Carlston, DMD. Vice President of Marketing and Partner Recruitment at Comfort Dental: [Comfort Dental] is founded on the idea of providing high quality dentistry in an affordable manner. Because we purchase supplies in bulk, this allows us to monitor our costs across our 10 states. As a dental franchise, we continually are negotiating prices with our vendors on behalf of our franchisees. This allows us to curb costs and keep our offices functioning with a lower than average overhead. We also anticipate staff salaries being approximately 20 percent of our total gross receipts for any month. With the increase in overall payroll it has become more important for business owners to limit overtime and maintain staff. We also operate three dental laboratories. We are able to keep our costs low and still provide high quality work for our patients. Operating these labs has allowed us to not raise costs on our doctors while other labs, who operate at a lower volume, have had to raise their lab fees to compensate for the current inflation.

Navigating the dental 'tsunami': 3 dental leaders' goals for 2023

Joshua Zissman. COO of the Oral Surgery Group (Meadowbrook, Pa.): We intend to navigate through the turbulent waters of healthcare (especially the dental/DSO tsunami) as carefully as possible. With the many changes occurring throughout the "dental space" we are carefully considering all our options. Our primary goals are to continue to grow, give great patient care and ensure that we position ourselves operationally and financially to come out ahead of where we end up in 2022.

3 financial challenges facing dental practices today

Cyrous Sheikh, DDS. Discovery Children's Dentistry & Orthodontics (Carlsbad, Calif.): Tough question because I think we have multiple serious financial threats. Cost of employees in my area has grown faster than inflation but our reimbursement has not. Therefore my labor cost went from 25 percent of total to closer to 29 percent. This percentage is the first time I've seen this in 20 years! Second is probably a silent one but all the Economic Injury Disaster Loans are coming due at a bad time with no relief!

4 ways Dental365 plans to grow in 2023: COO

Terri Krauss. COO of Dental365 (New Hyde Park, N.Y.): This past year has been an incredible year of growth, both personally and professionally. I am looking forward to a fantastic year ahead! This year we selectively scaled our support services so that we are prepared for both additional affiliations and de novo expansion in new markets. While we are mindful of forecasts that predict some economic slowdown, our plans for expansion remain optimistic. I realistically expect to see our company hit over 200 supported practices by the end of 2023.

'This dynamic is completely out of balance': The challenge of DSOs working with payers

Michael Schwartz. Chair and CEO of Specialty Dental Brands: One of the biggest challenges is working with insurance companies due to the rising input costs hitting dental offices such as labor shortages and wage and supply inflation. Every dental office in the U.S. has seen these expenses dramatically increase, yet the average dental insurance company provides fee increases of 3 percent if you are lucky every two to five years. This dynamic is completely out of balance. The legislation passed in Massachusetts in November is the first step in addressing this problem.

What dentists learned in 2022

Lee Harris, DDS. Harris Dental Solutions (Los Angeles): The biggest takeaway from this past year is to take good care of your staff, especially clinical. Replacement of valuable human resources has become quite difficult. Many dental hygienists have left the workforce and many dental assisting schools have closed. While inflation is difficult, replacing staff is problematic. Develop incentive plans or other mechanisms so that your staff remains intact. 

2 shifts to monitor in oral surgery: Q&A with Dr. Jason Auerbach

Jason Auerbach, DDS. Founder of Riverside (N.J.) Oral Surgery: I don't think there are a whole lot of challenges facing the specialty, but there's a lot going on in the specialty that most surgeons, though they may be peripherally aware of, aren't really prepared to handle on a macro scale. In the last few years there's been significant interest by traditionally dental DSOs and multispecialty DSOs. A lot of people who have been doing what we've been doing for as long as we've been doing it are a little weary of it and I think rightfully so, given what people perceive corporate dentistry and DSOs to be about. That's a huge piece of what's going on right now in the space as a whole. I don't see it as a challenge. I just see it as something we have to handle.

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