What Is a Dental Service Organization (DSO)?

According to the ADA, a DSO is “a group practice that contracts with a dental management organization to conduct all the business activities of the practice.” In other words, all dental practices have two sides that must be constantly maintained to be successful: the clinical and non-clinical. DSOs manage everything non-clinical, allowing dentists to direct all their attention to the clinical side.

DSOs have the challenge of needing to centralize data and being able to share it across all locations, which is solved with a cloud-based practice management system. DSOs also need a practice management solution that will not only allow efficient management of dental practices but will continue grow with them effortlessly and fluidly.

DSO Structure

There is more than one way to design a DSO. Sometimes the dentists are employees of the DSO. At other DSOs, dentists retain ownership of their practice and contract with the DSO for business management services. But all DSOs are structured to provide professional business oversight and accountability. Think of a DSO as the steady support that keeps the business side of a dental practice functioning while the dentist addresses clinical care.

Services Provided by DSOs

Dental practices affiliated with DSOs get reliable management services from a corporate level, such as:

These management aspects of a dental practice are stressful and distracting for some dentists. By handing over the business side of their practice to a DSO, a dentist only has to worry about the clinical side.

Why Join a DSO?

One of the main reasons dentists decide to join a DSO is the ability to solely focus on providing quality care for their patients. Some dentists do not enjoy dealing with the business duties of a practice — human resources seems to be a particular burden — and are relieved when the DSO has taken the management responsibilities off their shoulders. Because of this, many dentists feel DSOs also provide a healthier work/life balance. Other reasons to join a DSO include support for insurance reimbursement and access to the latest dental technology (without the overhead).

DSOs Are Not for Everyone

However, DSOs aren’t the right solution for all dentists. One reason dentists choose not to join DSOs is because of equity loss in their practice. DSOs are investors; your loss of equity is their investment opportunity. Many dentists don’t like the idea of being a salaried contractor instead of the owner of their own business. As a contractor, you are required to comply with rules of DSO for patient treatment and business decisions — you no longer get to call the shots. And some dentists feel that business management is part of owning a practice, and they don’t mind doing it.

DSO Trends in the Dental Industry

DSOs have had a notable impact on the dental industry because they empower dentists to only focus on providing excellent clinical care. DSOs are among the dental industry’s top trends, and their already rapid growth is rate is speeding up. Some reasons DSOs are growing so quickly are that dental students are graduating with higher debt, older dentists want another option for moving into retirement and other dentists want to grow their practice with the long-term scalability that is a part of the DSO model.

Future of DSOs

DSOs have changed the outlook of the dental industry, and industry experts say that DSOs are here to stay.

DSOs are under pressure to deliver high quality care in a cost-effective manner. They need to maximize operational efficiency in order to maintain low overhead costs. Cloud-based practice management software can help DSOs have the flexibility they need to continue growing efficiently and effortlessly while maintaining high standards of care and efficiency.

Dentrix Ascend from Henry Schein One centralizes data, supports the structure of DSO organizations and smoothly delivers scalability as dental organizations grow.

Learn what makes Dentrix Ascend the right solution for your DSO.

Request a demo today.