It’s not surprising that dentistry is a tremendously entrepreneurial industry in today’s scathingly steep economy: Three in four practitioners are self-employed and out of 35,000 registered dentists in the UK, 25,000 are private.
Management of a dental office, especially one that operates as a private entity, requires an administrative role that can sufficiently achieve the mission of the practice, increase the productivity, and demonstrate skills in marketing that can ultimately contribute to the financial success of the office.
It is predicted that within a few years virtually all purchases in the dental office will be made virtually, with numerous jobs being transferred from people to virtual assistants. That being said, no matter how programmed the office may get, the dental practice will continue to remain a people-oriented health profession.
Taking into consideration the complexity of the business aspect of dentistry, most dentists may not be able to fulfill a sound career in both delivering the dental services to the patients while at the same time managing the administrative responsibilities that allow the dental office to stay afloat.
Where and how do dentists learn these skills, if at all?
This is where we take a deep dive into what a DSO is and how it can truly transform a dental practice!
What is a DSO?
DSOs or dental support organizations are independent entities that the dental practice owners can contract with to help manage the administrative, marketing, and/business sides of that dental practice. The DSO model represents a more corporate function and can vary in size or structure.
A dental support organization is not responsible for providing clinical services to the patient. Rather, DSOs focus on providing the business with resources that can elevate the non-clinical support needs of the dental practice, all the while the dentist and supporting clinical staff provide the full catalog of patient clinical services. In this way, while the DSOs and the dental staff may cross paths, the DSOs provide a centralized practice support that makes it easier for the dentist to run their practice.
A DSOs services may include but not be limited to facility maintenance, supply procurement, human resources, compliance, accounting, and marketing services. At the root of it all, DSOs are able to provide critical business management and support for non-clinical operations, enabling dentists to concentrate solely on delivering dental care.
Andrew Smith, executive director of the Association of Dental Support Organizations (ADSO) further explained, “The variations of DSO types come from the different structural ways dentists choose to affiliate their practice. Based on a dentist’s specific business needs or the community they serve, a dentist may favor one type over the other.”
According to ADA Health Policy Institute research, more than 10% of all dentists were affiliated with a dental practice supported by a DSO in 2019. About 10% of dentists over the age of 50 and 20% of dentists under age 34 were supported by DSOs.
Why are DSOs so popular?
As mentioned, DSOs contract with dental practices to help enhance the productivity of the practice. Through their partnership, the dental practices are able to access many benefits like:
Advanced technology: DSOs are able to purchase leverage, available capital and continuous R&D, enabling dentists to utilize cutting-edge technology such as digital x-rays, electronic health records, and CAD/CAM systems.
Professional education and training: Most DSOs offer a wide array of continuing education facilities so that the dentists can stay abreast of new protocols, equipment, practice management tools and equipment.
High buying and selling value: DSOs are able to provide a greater buying power and can negotiate with vendors in case the dentist wishes to sell the practce. They can also help lower dentists’ supply costs, provide access to the capital dentists need for state-of-the-art equipment, and overall support the finances of the practice.
Other quality services provided by DSOs include insurance reimbursement support, reducing the professional overhead burden for dentists, incentives for joining and the elimination of dental education debt.
When it comes to benefits of DSOs to the patients, dentists are able to accept more types of insurance plans and provide high quality services that the patient can afford. DSO-supported dental practices are also able to offer longer office hours and more appointments, allowing for more flexible scheduling so that the patient’s needs are better accommodated. Above all, they can help reduce the time the dentists have to devote to the administrative aspects that keep the light on in their offices and enable dentists to do what is most important - provide time to their patient’s care.
Why do DSOs offer their own aligner brands?
The demand for dental aesthetics has grown exponentially after the introduction of white label clear aligners. In fact, the Global Invisible Orthodontics Sale Market Report (360 Research Reports, October 2020) showed that the clear aligner market is projected to grow at a rate of 11.5% each year.
It is undeniable that clear aligners have become the new best thing in the orthodontic market. Not only are they more aesthetic to look at, they are comfortable, effective, and are mostly considered a faster alternative to traditional braces. But can we argue that all clear aligners are built equal? No. With dozens upon dozens of clear aligner brands flooding the rapidly saturating aligner market, it can be assumed that a good chunk do not meet the standards and quality of others.
DSOs contracted with many dental pratices, therefore, have sought to launch or partner with their own individual aligner brands. For instance, Western Dental & Orthodontics rolled out its ClearArc orthodontic aligners that are only available at the dental service organization’s offices. They claimed that ClearArc was a result of extensive research and testing and was made available for 40% less cost as compared to the other leading brands.
With the launch, they were able to evaluate treatments for patients more closely and ensure quality conrol to ensure that the patients receive aligners that withstand the value of their hard-earned dollars. They also mentioned that ClearArc’s ClearWear technology was made to ensure that aligners were effective with fewer if any attachments. Western Dental added that the aligners were also stain-resistant.
One of the important benefits of the ClearArc aligners was that Western Dental was able to provide flexible financing options to their patients and provide a personal visit with their orthodontist, ensuring both quality and affordability.
Another example stems from the move initiated by Candid. Candid announced that it was closing down its direct-to-consumer (DTC) business as well as all 45 Candid Studios. It decided to focus on growing its nationwide network of CandidPro dentists “empowering them to treat clear aligner cases with its vanguard teleorthodontic service model.” Candid is now working in direct partnership with dental practices and DSOs like Affinity Dental Management practices to offer its first-of-its-kind telehealth clear aligner therapy to even more patients.
But perhaps the boldest move of all was initiated by the German OEM clear aligner manufacturer K Line Europe, when it decided in early 2022 to expand capacities and focus on producing high end white label clear aligners along with offering end-to-end consulting and services, specifically to provide DSOs and clinics with everything they need to launch their own profitable clear aligner brand!
But how to get started as a DSO in offering a unique and successful aligner brand?
Learn more on our blog or get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org!