Dental service organizations acquire dental practices and offer invaluable support for crucial administrative tasks. When you join a DSO, you become part of a group practice instead of working independently.
As a dentist, belonging to a DSO is a weight off your shoulders. It lets you focus on caring for your patients while the DSO manages your business aspects — from recruitment, compliance and legal support to accessing the latest technology and encouraging professional networking.
What Is a Dental Service Organization?
DSOs own and run dental practices, implementing various managerial tasks like administration, marketing and purchasing. Being part of a DSO can make your practice more profitable and efficient.
Services Offered by Dental Service Organizations
DSOs offer a broad spectrum of services, covering your practice’s essential aspects. Services differ among organizations, but most provide the following:
- Reception and administrative duties
- Scheduling patients and confirming appointments
- Insurance reimbursements
- Compliance and legal support
- Development programs
- Developing membership plans
DSOs free your time to see more patients and focus on growing your professional skills. Partnering with a DSO helps your dental practice operate more efficiently and ensures everyone knows their role.
How Do DSOs Work?
Because DSOs offer a range of vital solutions to dental practices, more dentists have started welcoming their support.
Before joining a DSO, you should understand what they do.
- DSOs have a centralized model with a team supporting your practice’s operational and administrative sides.
- DSOs will buy dental practices or contract with dentists.
- The DSO and dentists will have an agreement stipulating terms and policies, services rendered, payment types and methods, which insurance and treatments they accept and which labs and manufacturers they will partner with.
- The DSO will connect clerical staff and dental practitioners so your practice can run as efficiently as possible.
- The DSO is responsible for overseeing operations, managing patients and paying staff.
Should You Join a DSO?
Joining a DSO can be a game-changer for dentists. According to statistics from the American Dental Association, 13% of dentists nationwide belong to a DSO — a number that continues to grow. The stats also show that 23% of dentists affiliated with a DSO graduated from dental school over a decade ago.
Some dentists understand that their professional training does not always translate to business expertise. For others, joining a DSO relieves some of the financial burden as they manage dental student debt and incur the costs of owning private practices.
Benefits of Joining a DSO Practice
Some of the many advantages of contracting with a DSO include:
- You get to focus on patient care as your primary role.
- DSOs fill the gap in finding billing experts.
- Partnering with a DSO could help your practice draw in more patients.
- You can differentiate yourself from competitors with the state-of-the-art technology and niche services DSOs equip you with.
- The collaboration gives you new insights and ways to grow and further your career.
Though being part of a DSO is potentially beneficial, dental professionals should be aware of some possible pitfalls:
- You will no longer have full control over how you run your practice.
- You may face challenges if your practice’s culture and the DSO’s methods do not align.
- Changes in the practice’s structure and patient care may lead to staff turnover.
- Though you will enjoy a more stable salary, the DSO may require you to work longer hours and see more patients than you would if you were a private practitioner.
If you are considering joining a DSO, always ensure you fully understand what the DSO offers, what they expect from you and what the benefits and drawbacks might be.
Benefits of Having a Private Practice
For some dentists, having a private practice makes a lot more sense, as there are clear advantages to private practices:
- You can run your practice in a way that aligns with your values.
- You have more control over patient care options and pricing, and you do not need to meet any targets other than those you set for yourself.
- You can connect with your patients by understanding their needs and recommending the ideal treatment options for them.
- You can enjoy a better work-life balance and adjust your schedule as needed.
Harnessing the Power of DSOs
Partnering with a DSO can be a rewarding and fruitful experience. The most crucial aspect of joining a DSO is finding a partner who aligns with your visions and goals, and that peace of mind is invaluable as you enter a new agreement.
Considerations for Partnering With DSOs
Dentists enjoy multiple benefits when joining a DSO, but keep these factors in mind.
- Roles: Check in with potential DSOs to understand your responsibilities. Review elements such as how much freedom you retain in making medical decisions for your patients and choosing treatment plans.
- Terms: If you are considering joining a DSO, speak to a consultant to review their terms and policies. Ask about their patient flow and processes. How will they assign patients? What are the turnaround times for scheduling and appointment confirmation? You must also be comfortable with their procedures for money collections, the supplies and equipment they make available, which incentives they provide, which labs they work with and other essential policies that you need clarity on.
- Compensation: DSOs typically use one of three payment models for dentists. You can get a share of the organization’s gross revenue if you transfer the practice’s assets to the DSO, get a fixed salary and bonuses or earn equity from the DSO.
Of course, you should also consider if having a solo practice is better for your career goals. When you run a private practice, every decision lies with you, allowing you freedom. It also gives you firsthand business experience and skills. You may desire the sense of accomplishment from being in business for yourself, reaping more profits from your hard work.
With these elements in mind, partnering with a DSO can transform your practice. DSOs are pivotal in shaping the dental industry. By professionally managing administrative aspects, DSOs can help you enhance patient experience, keep your practice compliant, bring in more patients and raise the standard and quality of your offerings by equipping you with the latest technology.
The Future of DSOs
DSOs are at the forefront of revolutionizing the dental industry. As the industry and organizations continue to progress, we may see more of these trends:
- Doctor-led DSOs that allow dentists more freedom than ever before
- DSOs that cater to dental specialists, supporting them with state-of-the-art equipment and revolutionary treatment
- Digital dentistry options
- Consolidating platforms
Boost Your Dental Practice With ProDentUSA
Whether you are a sole practitioner or considering joining a DSO, you can find a reliable partner with ProDentUSA.
We work with dentists and dental specialists to develop all the tools you and your patients need. ProDentUSA only uses the highest-grade steel to manufacture our affordable, durable products. With ProDentUSA’s quality equipment, your practice can spread smiles one instrument at a time. Browse our extensive range of designed-to-last tools or contact our helpful team for more information.