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Dentistry is changing: do you know where you fit in?

Dentistry as we know it is changing right before our eyes. The data is clear: fewer and fewer dentists are practicing as solo practitioners and more of us are moving toward group practice. While everyone has their own reasons, the biggest draw seems to be creating a better work-life balance.

 

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It’s an understandable choice. On one hand your are expected to be an excellent healthcare provider, leader, and business person. While at the same time you have a family and all the obligations that come along with it.

For the majority of us who are not superhuman, something has to give. And most of the time the hit is taken on the family side of the ledger.

So it’s no surprise that many of us look to corporate dentistry – specifically DSO’s and or MSO’s – to even out the personal balance sheet.

Dental Service or Support Organizations or Managed Service or Support Organizations are markedly different from ordinary ‘mom and pop’ solo dental corporations.

The biggest benefit to the dentist looking for a bit of balance and structure is that MSOs come with built in processes, marketing, education and support that eliminate many of the headaches solo practices have to deal with.

But there is also a cost. That cost comes from the loss of control to equity partners, more interested in profits than patients. In many instances these groups are only in the game for 3 to 7 years after which the investment arm cashes in it’s chips and moves on.

At that point another group will step in with it’s own ideas about how things should be done.   

This invariably causes disruption and a lack of continuity within the organization. On the positive side process and procedures will be put in place that could perhaps reduce waste and control some costs. But that doesn’t entirely offset other factors such as additional layers of management, and an emphasis on short term profits at the expense of long term failure.

This isn’t an issue for discussion anymore. We must adapt and modify our practices and prepare team members and the public for these changes.

There is room for both business models. And the hope is that each model will force the other to become better not just in care but in service.

In the end patients are attracted to a particular dental practice based on their needs, finances and education. A majority will be moved by slick marketing, convenient hours and numerous locations. But others will value the continuity of care specialized services and BLT: an office they Believe In, Like and Trust.

If you’re a dentist and you’d like to discuss how to create a practice that works for you please get in touch.