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Now in its 11th consecutive month of growth since reopening after the COVID shutdown, Dental Care Alliance (DCA) is an exceptional model of DSO growth. At the Dykema DSO Conference in July 2021, Patient Prism’s CEO, Amol Nirgudkar, interviewed DCA’s president, Jeff Koziel; chief operating officer, Dale Hockel; and chief revenue officer, James Nick. The intent was to explore what DCA has been doing to thrive throughout the pandemic.


What is Dental Care Alliance® (DCA)?

Dental Care Alliance is a large dental service organization with the purpose of advancing the practice of dentistry by partnering with and supporting a growing number of dental professionals. DCA currently supports 335 allied practices and more than 750 dentists across 20 states. DCA’s allied practices represent all dental specialties and treat patients under more than 85 brand names.


How did DCA grow during the comeback?

DCA hired over a hundred doctors and hygienists into new positions. That’s because “the demand for dentistry came back faster than our existing providers and team members could supply,” says James Nick. The name of the game became not only how to become more efficient in the offices with scheduling and making sure patients show up, but also expanding capacity with extended office hours and finding open spots in offices where DCA could plug in more providers. DCA is piloting different ways to connect with patients prior to their appointment and make sure patients show up.

“The other part is that the pandemic brought us together as an organization. Everybody was working well and had a common mission to take care of the patient as we went forward,” says Dale Hockel.


Jeff Koziel adds that DCA is on a mission to take care of patients first and stay in communication with patients before, during, and after their appointments to make sure providers and teams are delivering on their promise of exceptional care.


Analytics are used to drive behavior

DCA has invested in data science and training, so its operations and support teams understand and use analytics. At weekly meetings, the analytics are reviewed and used to manage the business. The numbers need to be viewed in the context of how improving numbers impact the patient experience and grow the business. The numbers need to be made meaningful to drive behavioral change. 

Throughout the pandemic, DCA has had a lot of “town hall” teleconferencing across the country to keep communicating its mission, vision, values, most up-to-date information (including analytics), and leadership decisions.

Hockel says the pandemic brought leadership closer together, “because we developed cadences of weekly and daily calls to stay in constant, transparent communication.” Hockel asserts decisions were being made in real-time. “We had the right people together, and we had the connection between the leadership team in the support center and the leadership teams in the practices.”

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DCA is striving and succeeding in recruiting talent

Moving from a short-term strategy to fill vacancies and “put out fires,” DCA is moving toward a long-term strategy. This long-term strategy includes goals for the development of its current employees, diversity equity inclusion, and cultivating young graduates coming into the marketplace. 

DCA has always been good at onboarding and integrating talent by forming high-touch relationships from the beginning. Employees rapidly feel they are part of a community because DCA provides abundant mentorship and support.

DCA strives to understand what motivates employees. “I would say from an engagement perspective the key is allowing the team to be heard,” says Koziel. DCA’s management wants to know what matters most to employees and to identify trends in those opinions across the enterprise. DCA leadership wants to act on that information to make changes that will foster organization-wide employee engagement and team success.

“Dental offices are very busy places, and it can be stressful,” says Nick. “We want to make their jobs easier so that they can focus on the patient while the patient is there.”



More growth is underway

Nirgudkar believes the business models coming out of the DSO industry are driving better oral health to patients and enabling dentists to do what they do best with clinical autonomy. Nick affirms this, saying, “seeing more patients, delivering a better patient experience, integrating technology into our practices in ways that a patient might not see but helps deliver a better patient experience and allows us to see more patients—these things are part of growth, leading to de novo locations and acquisitions.”

DCA wants to be the DSO of choice. “So, everything we're doing right now is with the mindset that we can help providers market and optimally deliver their services, focus on patient care and the patient relationship, and as an organization we are better together,” says Hockel. 

In the process of receiving DCA support, dentists have more financial security and greater work-life balance…and dentists are seeing happier patients and teams.

Learn more about joining DCA today: www.dentalcarealliance.net/affiliations


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