4 DSO trends to watch, per 1 exec

The rise of specialty models is one of several trends among DSOs and management services organizations one leader is following in the dental industry.

Kristen Cusack is the CEO of Phase 1 Equity, a private equity-backed DSO supporting orthodontics and pediatric dental practices. She recently spoke with Becker's about the main trends among DSOs and MSOs she is following.

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What trends in the DSO/MSO space are you currently following?

Kristen Cusack: There are a lot of great things happening in the DSO/MSO space as it continues to mature. Some of the exciting things we are seeing:

  • An increase in doctor leadership. Many doctors see traditional DSOs as a great opportunity but are concerned about the lack of control and how their business models could change the way they practice. We see the response to this in the creation of more doctor-led DSO organizations. The Phase 1 model, for example, is doctor-owned, doctor-led and doctor-governed. This approach gives doctors peace of mind that they will benefit from the resources usually reserved for larger organizations but will continue to have clinical and cultural autonomy.
  • The rise of more specialty models. More and more DSOs are focusing on one or two related specialties to maximize doctor collaboration, shared expertise and best practices. This is also notable in some larger DSOs that have sub-categories or divisions. 
  • The use of data and artificial intelligence is continuing to rise. AI is one of the hottest topics on the conference circuit and in the literature. We all continue to look for ways to utilize tools like AI software and other data sources to enhance our patient outcomes. 
  • Ways DSOs can reduce doctor burnout. Results from a Mayo Clinic Proceedings survey show an alarmingly high rate of burnout among doctors. Sixty-three percent of doctors reported having at least one symptom of burnout at the beginning of 2022, an increase from 44 percent in 2017. DSOs continue to innovate new ways they can alleviate pain points for doctors who run independent practices so they can focus on one thing: delivering exceptional patient care. Simply the opportunity to actively collaborate with other doctors, for example, can really decrease feelings of isolation and help lower burnout rates.

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