How to determine if a dental support organization is right for your practice

June 2014

By: Erick Cutler

As healthcare professionals, dentists must continually strive to provide the highest quality service to their patients. In addition to thorough and courteous dental care, dentists must also create an environment that helps patients feel at ease. Your practice’s staff, from the receptionist who answers the phone to your most trusted hygienist, is one of the most important elements of creating a positive setting.

Beyond providing medical care, though, successful dentists are expected to be experts in payroll and accounting, human resources and office management. Even if you have staff in place to manage these parts of your business, the ultimate responsibility lies with the dentist. In response, dental support organizations have cropped up across the country to help dentists more effectively manage their practices.

Why does my dental practice need a DSO?

Dentistry as we know it may soon be in crisis, and in response, there has been a shift towards a dental support organization model. According to Dr. Andrew Matta in an article he wrote for DentistryIQ, “There is a real crisis in America and multiple threats challenge the delivery model for dental care. There is an emerging shortage of dentists that will only get worse as Baby Boomer dentists begin to retire and not enough dentists graduate to fill the gap.”

To help meet these challenges, dental support organizations (DSOs) assist dental practices with essential office processes such as accounting, human resources and marketing. As a result, the dentist could have more time to focus on providing the best possible care for their patients. It also could mean a significant improvement in the workflow and profit potential for their businesses.

Some dentists fear that joining a dental support organization may force them to relinquish control of clinical decisions, but most DSOs proclaim that they want to be partners with dentists, not corporate watchdogs. Working cooperatively with DSOs may help dentists provide exceptional care to their patients without sacrificing necessary components of running their business.

DSOs may not be right for every practice, though. If you have a staff that is well-trained and good at their respective jobs, you may not need to bring in additional assistance. If you’re struggling to find hardworking employees or you are letting the books get a few months behind, it’s probably time to get help. A study by economist Arthur Laffer found that dental support organizations in Texas were more cost-efficient than the average dentist, while providing better service to clientele and underserved populations.

Research to determine if a DSO is right for your practice

Not all dental support organizations are created equally. If you are considering a DSO, do your due diligence. You may want to seek recommendations from colleagues who use dental support organizations, or go to the Dental Group Practice Association, (a nonprofit collection of dental support organizations that upholds its members to a comprehensive code of ethics) for a list of their members.

If you decide that a dental support organization is right for your practice, you may find yourself feeling more confident about your practice’s future. You may also find you have a little extra time to finally take that long-awaited fishing trip or visit to the golf course. If you are reticent to join a DSO, look for third party help such as outsourced billing, accounting and CFO services.

Please contact our Dental Practice Leader Erick Cutler at 214-635-2541 or ECutler@GPPcpa.com for more information. To learn more about Erick, you can visit his bio or Google+ page.

Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article.

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