5 Advantages of Partnering with a Dental Service Organization

October 21, 2021

At a glance

  • Demand for DSOs: Dental service organizations (DSOs) are growing in popularity because they can absorb time-consuming business management and operational tasks for dentists.
  • Weigh the pros: There are five main advantages to partnering with a DSO, but dentists need to weigh the benefits against the limitations to determine the right path for themselves.
  • Get a second opinion: Consult with Aprio’s National Dental Team for guidance on determining whether a DSO relationship makes sense for your practice.

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The full story:

Over the past few years, you’ve likely heard the term “DSO” pop up in conversations with your dental peers and colleagues. Put simply, DSOs (an acronym for “dental service organizations”) are large organizations that contract with dentists and practitioners to offer essential business management support and handle nonclinical, non-patient-related operational activities.

DSOs are gaining traction among dental practices. In fact, according to Benesch, roughly 8.8% of practicing dentists in the United States are affiliated with DSOs.[1]

Are you considering partnering with a DSO to help grow your practice? Here are the top five advantages to consider.

1. Offload administrative burdens

Dentists thrive on practicing patient care, but very few of them enjoy the administrative responsibilities that come with running a business. Fortunately, DSOs can absorb employee relations and benefits issues (for instance, hiring and firing employees or administering payroll), negotiating with suppliers, dealing with insurance companies and maintaining product inventory, among other time-consuming yet necessary tasks. Outsourcing these duties to a DSO means more time back in your day and less headaches over worrying about the tasks you don’t enjoy.

2. Access top-tier technology

One of the most attractive benefits to partnering with a DSO is that you can easily tap into a wide range of technology solutions. Many of the industry’s top DSOs provide their dental partners with the most up-to-date, HIPAA-compliant tools available in the marketplace at a fraction of the cost, including clinical software applications, administrative software and new hardware (from intraoral cameras to digital X-ray machines). DSOs can also help you centralize all of your technology and ensure that your various tools and platforms integrate together, which is essential for dental practices with multiple locations.

3. Focus solely on patient care

Since DSOs can absorb your business management and operational tasks, you have more bandwidth in your schedule to develop care plans for patients and provide a more personalized, one-on-one experience. What’s more, some DSOs offer dentists continuing education courses and training that allow them to grow their skill sets, learn more about new practice and care methods, and develop new specializations to serve more complex patient needs. DSOs also provide resources that allow dentists to keep up with new changes and innovations in the profession, which increases your competitive edge.

4. Obtain a better work-life balance

Stress has long been an issue in the field of dentistry. According to a survey of dental practitioners published in Dentistry Today, more than 84% of dentists and 26% of dental auxiliaries reported feelings of burnout.[2] Since DSOs assume full control of the nonclinical, management and operational tasks of the business, dentists who affiliate with them can mitigate stress, resolve burnout and benefit from a better work-life balance compared to solo practitioners.

5. Create an easy exit from your practice

Eventually, you will retire from dentistry, sell your practice or leave your business to pursue a new venture. One of the biggest challenges of being a practice owner is finding capable successors and leadership to help facilitate your exit and ensure a smooth transition without sacrificing patient relationships. Since DSOs offer all of the resources necessary to run a practice, they can be immensely helpful in the succession process. In addition, DSOs can offer a robust professional community you can tap into for potential successors, or they can provide valuable mentorship opportunities to help train and mold internal successors.

The bottom line 

DSOs come with both advantages and limitations (for instance, less autonomy in terms of practice ownership), and they may not be well-suited for every dental practitioner. The decision to affiliate with a DSO depends entirely on your personal and business goals.

At Aprio, our National Dental Team can provide the personal guidance and support you need to help identify current gaps in your practice and determine whether a DSO relationship would help you resolve them.

Schedule a free consultation today to get started.

[1] “Benesch DSO Industry Report – Q1 2020,” Benesch, April 2, 2020, https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/benesch-dso-industry-report-q1-2020-44492/, accessed July 2021.

[2] Andrew Goldsmith, DDS, “How to Avoid Dental Burnout,” Dentistry Today, January 4, 2019, https://www.dentistrytoday.com/news/todays-dental-news/item/4242-how-to-avoid-dental-burnout, accessed July 2021.

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