Crossing the Chasm: The DSO Technology Gap

Dr. Jeromy Dixson describes DSO Tech Solutions, a collaboration between The DSO Project and Cellerant Consulting Group, and how they help DSOs bridge the chasm and successfully adopt emerging dental technologies.

Technology and DSOs
When I first started my journey in dentistry and DSOs 20 years ago, the hot new technology was digital radiographs and software-enabled practice management systems such as Henry Schein’s Dentrix and Patterson’s Eaglesoft. Believe it or not, in 2004 many practices were still developing film radiographs in a darkroom and scheduling appointments on paper! These somewhat shocking realities of the past (viewed from our current lens) make me feel a bit nostalgic for the smell of the developing chemicals and the simplicity of days gone by, but it also serves to illustrate how much dental technology has developed as the 21st century has rolled along.

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We are now entering a “golden age” of new dental technologies and tech adoption in the DSO space and in dentistry generally. The DSO industry continues to grow, driven by various factors including the shifting priorities of younger dentists, inherent business model advantages, and accelerating development from a cottage industry to a more mature, consolidated industry driven by investor capital. As cheap money for rapid acquisitions has dried up and ensuring debt covenant compliance has become top of mind for CEOs and CFOs across our landscape, C-suite executives are more motivated than ever to refocus on how to drive organic growth in existing practices under management. Leveraging existing and emerging technologies are among the most effective ways to improve practice management effectiveness, clinical care and, ultimately, achieve the twin aims of:

I.    Improving patient experience and clinical outcomes.
II.    Driving significant organic growth at the practice level.

Technology has already played a pivotal role in shaping the dental industry, enhancing patient care, and optimizing practice management within DSOs. The adoption of digital technologies such as analytics and business intelligence tools has improved the efficiency of patient data management and the transparency of clinical and business outcomes. Advanced imaging technologies and AI clinical software options such as Pearl AI have enabled more accurate and timely assessments of oral health conditions, as well as becoming increasingly critical tools to improve case acceptance.

Additionally, innovations in treatment methodologies such as laser dentistry, dental materials, and CAD/CAM systems such as CEREC or same-day restorations, have transformed the patient experience, offering faster and more convenient restorative solutions. The integration of AI and machine learning has further streamlined administrative tasks and practice management, from appointment scheduling to insurance processing, and reduced operational overhead for DSOs. As technology continues to evolve, the dental industry is likely to witness continued growth and increased efficiency, benefiting both dental professionals and patients alike.

The DSO Project – Pivot to Technology
Initially, The DSO Project was built to assist high potential entrepreneurs in the DSO space to build and scale a sustainable, investable DSO. Since my return from a 2-year sabbatical and its inception in 2017, The DSO Project has served clients nationwide and assisted leaders from the design and build phase of DSO creation to create several iconic $150 million+ DSOs. 

While that work has continued, and another DSO Project-assisted DSO expects funding in Q2 2024, we decided to shift our services into assisting DSO executive leaders’ efforts to assess, pilot, and integrate the newest and best emerging and existing dental technologies into their businesses. Our deep experience in coaching executives in the space made clear to us that DSO executives simply don’t have the bandwidth and expertise to efficiently find and integrate high-value technologies into their businesses. So, we decided to create a solution to help. 

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What is the DSO Technology Chasm?
A wide chasm exists between DSOs and the adoption of high-value technology, products, and services. If you are managing a DSO in any capacity, you are aware of this chasm and in most cases, you know that you should ideally be doing more to incorporate these things into your company. If you are a vendor, you know the value you can add, the efficiency you could harness, and the disproportionate EBITDA you can add to the bottom line, if only you could explain how you can assist DSO growth to the decision makers.

Why is this disconnect between vendors and DSOs ubiquitous in our industry?  

Are DSO decision makers too busy or focused on the wrong priorities?  

Are they flooded with a constant stream of undifferentiated options?  

Do the vendors focus on the wrong value proposition?  

Is it a matter of too much management reactivity at the expense of business-improving proactivity?  

Do you have enough in-house expertise and bandwidth to properly vet and research potential vendors?

Using our collective 70+ years in DSOs and dentistry as a foundation, our team asked ourselves why this technology chasm exists and then challenged ourselves to apply this collective experience and our significant resources to create an innovative solution to this issue. 

The result of this journey is an incredibly eloquent solution to this dilemma—a bridge over the chasm to connect DSOs and vendors.

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What is the Bridge?
Cellerant Consulting Group and The DSO Project have partnered to create DSO Tech Solutions. This is the bridge we have built to help DSOs cross the chasm.


How Does DSO Tech Solutions Help DSOs and Vendors Cross the Chasm?


We decided to help DSOs press “the easy button” when it comes to what services and products best apply to them, rather than simply networking or a “meet and greet” approach for introductions.

We roll up our sleeves to understand what recommendations make sense for a particular DSO, prioritize pilot sequencing, and assist with implementation and project management to ensure a smooth rollout and optimized value creation in the process. Our services are completely free for DSOs serious about leveling up their companies by utilizing the best adjunct products and services dentistry has to offer.

As we seek to understand the gaps and needs of interested DSOs, we work with vendors to understand their unique value proposition and make targeted recommendations to DSOs who could greatly benefit from what they offer.

Ultimately, timely and successful adoption of emerging dental technologies will separate DSOs who continue to grow organically from those who live in the past. As technological evolution persists, the DSO industry is poised for sustained growth and promising continued optimization of both professional workflows and patient experiences. If the technology chasm is crossed by DSO leaders, the opportunity for near term organic growth, improved efficiency, elevated patient experience, and employee satisfaction is exceptional.

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About Jeromy Dixson 


Jeromy Dixson, DMD, MBA, is a top DSO thought leader/influencer (Group Dentistry Now) with 20 years of experience in DSOs, a three-time Inc. Magazine 500/5000 awarded entrepreneur, Co-founder of DSO Tech Solutions, Founder/CEO of Dental Capital Partners, Co-Founder of SmartDiligence, and the Founder/CEO of The DSO Project, dentistry’s first DSO accelerator. Dr. Dixson also provides Board Services to private equity firms and other investors. He is a trusted DSO/dental industry advisor for private equity firms, dental technology companies, and global dental brands in a variety of capacities. Dr. Dixson has created strategy and assisted the building of multiple $150+ million revenue dental groups.

DSO Tech Solutions
DSO Tech Solutions is powered by two industry leading organizations: The DSO Project and Cellerant Consulting Group. The DSO Project was founded by DSO industry KOL, Dr Jeromy Dixson. They provide DSOs with complete guidance and coaching to improve all aspects of their DSO growth and development. Cellerant Consulting Group was founded by another dental industry KOL, Dr Lou Shuman. Cellerant is the well-established leader in bringing new technologies into dentistry from all over the world. DSO Tech Solutions analyzes the current technology used in a DSO, creates a detailed gap analysis including recommendations for how to best leverage leading-edge technology offered by a variety of dental industry technology firms, and connects the DSO with the right technology firms who will take their group to the next level.

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