Why Select Dental Management's new CEO is keeping an eye on AI

As Select Dental Management's new CEO Stephen Saukaitis gets settled in his new role, he is following how artificial intelligence is being used to support clinicians with patient care.

Select Dental Management announced Mr. Saukaitis as its next CEO in May. He joined the DSO with more than 20 years of experience scaling healthcare companies, most recently serving as CEO of Marlton, N.J.-based Consensus Health, a multispecialty partnership network.

Mr. Saukaitis recently spoke with Becker's about his new role, the DSO's goals and the most interesting thing he has learned about the dental industry.

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Q: How would you describe the last few months in your new role?

Stephen Saukaitis: It's been a blast. I've spent most of my career working in healthcare and technology-enabled healthcare businesses. I have a passion for great local and community-based healthcare models that drive great comprehensive patient care. This partnership model Select has puts that kind of care at the center of the model. Coming from the medical side, I am coming up to speed on dentistry and some of the unique challenges and opportunities.   

Q: What's been the most exciting part about joining Select Dental Management?

SS: Getting to meet all the doctors, hygienists [and] supporting administrative staff that do what they do and put great patient care at the center of what the company does. 

Q: What goals do you have for the company as CEO?

SS: We have a couple of themes: strategic acquisitions and organic growth [and the] optimization of practices where we have opportunities to add capacity and services to meet patient demand. In such a challenging economic environment, employee retention across the board is fundamental. We want to be a differentiated partnership model and the best way we can do that is to make sure we deliver world-class service to our practice partners and our patients. At the center of what we do, it really is a practice partnership model, and fundamental to that is making sure we support those partners in the best way we can with the services we produce. 

Q: How has your experience in the medical industry prepared you to lead a DSO?

SS: At my last company, with our physician partners we built a multispecialty medical group and services business in New Jersey. It was a different type of partnership model. That very much aligns with what Select has done in the dental space and that's one of the things that attracted me to Select. The fundamental thing that is great about healthcare in general, dental included, is that it's generally the case that great clinical care and driving the highest standards of clinical care, following evidence-based practices, those things are better for the patient, and they generally drive better financial outcomes. 

Q: What has been the most interesting thing you've learned about the dental industry so far? 

SS: I'm very interested in everything that's going on with [artificial intelligence] right now. We're taking advantage of AI-assisted software in some of our practices. It's certainly not a replacement for great clinical care but can support the process. In dental, like medical, there is still a wide variation in practice, so I love the idea of exploring where technology can support great clinicians in caring for their patients. That's something that's interesting to me, that speed of change across healthcare, including AI and what it will bring. I don't know exactly what that looks like yet.

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