Pushing back against DSO takeovers


Solo and partner practices don't need to be overwhelmed by the DSO trend-if they take the right steps now.

Although it seems that DSOs are going to rule the dental world in the near future, solo and partner practices can take heart in the fact that we know their Achilles heel, so to speak.

We, as either new or sustaining practices, can use this information to ensure productive, prosperous and fulfilling dental careers even with corporate dentistry down the street. What’s the secret? It’s actually less complicated than you think-if you are dedicated to making it work.

The first and most important phase of fighting back is centered on two simple words: patient care. Sure, it almost sounds like a “duh” phrase but the concept is multi-factorial and a big part of success as a dentist. It’s not just about your actual care for your patients, but also how you approach it. The DSO model has dentists on tiers with their income and it is highly production driven. It may not be quotas, but DSO dentists do have to produce at certain levels to justify what they pay them. And that seems to many people to be sales driven, rather than care driven. Patients don’t want to be “sold”, they want to be taken care of.

Related reading: Are the DSOs really taking over?

We need to remember that dentistry is still a profession and not just a commodity. The business of dentistry seems to be eclipsing the fact that we are a healing art first. A large treatment plan that blows them out of the water is not in their best interests and I have seen it many times from offices that place production as king. Patient care is realizing that dental care is tied to financial and emotional care, something we in the private sector, can utilize to create patient satisfaction and loyalty. That kind of total care is key to keeping and attracting patients who appreciate not feeling like they’re being sold a used car.

The statement in other articles that we need to ask the proper questions of DSOs to survive is really counterproductive for our own wellbeing. Why would I want to do that and what could I possibly ask that may help us all get along? DSOs are our competition and should be treated accordingly, but not with fear or anger. Private sector will never have the marketing budget DSOs have but spending big dollars is not the only way to keep a practice healthy and new patients coming in the door.

Related reading: The one question dentists need to ask about DSOs

One needs to make sure that social media is utilized to the fullest and that you also personally market your practice in the community. Street fairs, church bazaars, school and daycare presentations are just a sample of the ways one can grow a private practice. Remember, corporate is a billboard, you are a person, so maximize your interaction with people and create the kind of patient loyalty that DSOs can never take away from you.

So don’t whine about the rise of corporate dentistry: Embrace the competition and beat them at their own game.

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