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COVID has accelerated pressure on dentists from both the clinical and business perspectives. The complexity of managing a dental practice is increasing at the same time that patients are demanding more communication and increasingly driven by convenience. The Association of Dental Service Organization’s largest goal for 2020-2023 is to expand the support that the Association provides the industry so that dental practice owners of all sizes can grow to serve more patients well and experience less stress themselves. The fuel behind making this happen is a positive, growth mindset.

 

One of the lessons that dental practice owners have learned during COVID is that it helps to have a support system. Keeping up with PPE requirements, government compliance, need for increased communication with patients, COVID related staffing changes, and an increasingly convenience-driven mindset in Society have all put significant pressure on the clinical and business systems that were already complex before COVID. The pandemic has accelerated pressure to the point that all dentists, whether they are in a private practice, an affiliated group, or DSO need support. It doesn’t have to be a Dental Service Organization (DSO), per se. But dentists need a group of people you can turn to for advice and best practices. The increasing need for support is a trend that will continue.

Currently only about 35% of Americans see a dentist. The biggest challenge facing dentists is not competition for patients from each other. The biggest challenge is competition from all the other things that take patients’ time, attention, and money. This includes fear of COVID exposure and, in many circumstances, decreased financial means to pay for dentistry.

The Association of Dental Service Organizations (ADSO) has set five priorities for the next three years under the umbrellas of one larger goal, which is to expand “the tent” of the ADSO so it supports the entire dental industry, including independent dentists and dental groups that are not DSOs. In doing so, the ADSO aims to increase dental care for a significantly larger percentage of the population, while at the same time improving the lives of dental providers, who are constantly juggling the myriad aspects of dental practice that must be managed.

 

ADSO Priorities for 2020 – 2023

The ADSO plans to focus on five priorities during the next three years.

  1. Industry alignment – Clinicians seem to be on the same page when it comes to caring for patients. We need to get on the same page about taking care of our clinicians.
  2. Support for clinicians – We need to change the mindset of “I have to do it myself.” Many dentists feel bad and need support. We need to change the common mindset to one that says it’s healthy to reach out for support. It’s all about creating wellness for our healthcare providers. We can’t afford to have them burn out.
  3. Increased patient access – As it is now, many people see a dentist more often than a doctor. Dentists are providing a significant healthcare service, and the link between oral health and systemic disease means dental care decreases the burden on our medical system. We need to get that 35% number up to a much higher percentage of the population. That will benefit Society as a whole.
  4. Healthcare integration – Many dentists are ready to be more than a “tooth” doctor. They want to take a fuller part in integrated medicine and the systemic-health movement.
  5. Convenience enabled by resources and technology – We’ve got to do whatever we strategically need to, to make resources and technology available to clinicians, in order to take care of them, their teams, and their patients.

 

Growing Your Dental Practice or Group

Every dentist needs a great support team to maintain their personal wellness, the wellness of their teams, and the wellness of the practice’s business systems and financial bottom line. This is all necessary, so they can do their best for their patients. Dentists also need support in order to grow their dental practice. 

The Association of Dental Support Organizations has a growth mindset, and that mindset is essential for all dentists whether they are in private practice, part of a group of affiliated practices, or part of a DSO. The purpose of a dental support organization is to provide the support needed to grow, and in the case of a DSO, this growth includes scaling.

As soon as a practice owner brings on an associate, the practice owner needs to have a DSO kind of mindset, and by that, I mean the practice owner needs to feel and think that it is healthy to reach out for advice and bring in business support when there is more than the practice owner can handle. No one person can do everything. No one person has all the expertise. You don’t have to suffer in isolation. Your support team can be your spouse. It can be a consultant. The goal is to have a support team sufficient to help you get to the next level of stabilization and growth. Then, you may need to expand out with more support.

Whenever dentists are participating in ADSO conferences, podcasts, and other sharing, they are talking about “opportunity” and new possibilities. It’s about the growth mindset and, also, well-founded advice, hope, and encouragement. Participants gain a renewed sense that they can and will not only survive but grow. ADSO resources are available on the ADSO’s website. 

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