Industry Thought Leaders Discuss Challenges and Innovations for DSOs in 2024

DSOPro polled its 2023 Recruitment leaders to get their thoughts on the future of the industry.

We asked our 2023 featured industry leaders: Where is the DSO industry now? What will be different and where do you predict the industry is headed in 2024? Any thoughts on emerging technologies in 2024? Any company news?

Hot topics in the recruitment category in 2023 included emerging technologies, the importance of brand awareness and mentorship, building relationships with patients, training staff on phone skills and case acceptance, compensation structures, outsourcing, noncompete clauses, talent acquisition and retention, and how professional coaching can promote leadership development.

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Priyanki Amroliwala 
Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, 42North Dental


The DSO industry is still in a state of massive shortages for all the types of employees in a dental practice, including dentist/specialist, hygienist, assistant, front desk, etc. The current situation is that we are all in alignment with the shortage and are working on being proactive in the dental community to figure out ways to start increasing the numbers in the dental industry. What will be different from 2023 is that major DSOs are funding up their own dental schools and creating more fruitful partnerships with other hygiene/assistant programs to ensure they have a talent pipeline coming in consistently. They are doing this by allowing their dental practice as a place for them to “learn” even on the weekends when the practice is closed because the schools/programs don’t have enough operatories, space, or funding to build more. They are also creating their own “OJT” (on the job training) programs. In addition to this, they are going into the local high schools and vocational tech schools to talk to students about life in dentistry.

In general, DSOs are working on creating resolutions for the staffing crisis by educating more people on the lucrative and awesome careers in dentistry that they would not normally be exposed to. We are working on being creative in our hiring process. For instance, at 42 North, we have created a new “Traveling Dentist” role to start bridging the gap between our providers going on vacation or taking sick leave and leaving us scrambling to find doctor coverage. We have created a role that can help cover these gaps now without us reacting in desperation. We are excited to roll this model out in 2024, which will ultimately lead us to getting our patients the care they need.

Another trend the industry is headed toward for 2024 is that because the mortgage rates have not fallen, a lot of DSOs are no longer doing de novo or affiliation practices (or things are slowing down at least). Instead, they are positioning their company to grow organically. Organic growth occurs in a dental practice by adding more provider hours. This can be done by hiring externally or asking existing providers to put in more hours. More DSOs are focusing on this right now due to the economic state of real estate and the competition being so high on practice affiliations. 

I have recently heard of a new company/technology called Med Teams that is supposed to be a game changer in the recruitment world. They are a startup that has created software where a DSO can create their own “temp” agency. This is an awesome system, and I am genuinely excited about it as I have never heard of anything like this before. It will allow DSOs to start saving money compared to utilizing an external temp agency.

As for 42 North Dental, we are continuing to grow in 2024 full steam ahead! Also, we are continuing to be a leader in the industry in using AI when it comes to the patient world. You will continue to see this trend in the dental industry this year and for years to come.

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Brian Colao 
Director, Dykema’s Dental Service Organizations Group

BAColao_-_headshot_#2The DSO industry is coming off a very challenging year with interest rates, inflation, and the cost of labor at all-time highs. However, many DSOs do seem poised for a nice rebound as interest rates and the cost of labor are beginning to come down and the cost savings measures that were put in place in 2023 have resulted in much stronger organizations ready to resume expansion.

I think the great consolidation of the industry that had slowed down a bit in 2023 will pick up steam in the third and fourth quarters. I think DSOs will resume acquisitions, de novos, and expansion, and we may see a few very large deals in 2024.

Artificial intelligence continues to be the biggest innovation in the history of the dental industry. Diagnostic AI is an incredible tool to increase the overall quality of patient care, the overall patient experience, and the overall revenue of dental organizations through same-store growth. AI has also made a huge difference for patient retention, patient finance, billing, collections, and revenue cycle management.

Dykema is looking forward to setting a new attendance record at its industry leading DSO conference July 10-12, 2024, in Denver.

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Chelsea Myers
Founder and CEO, Dental Life Coach

Chelsea-008In the current climate of economic uncertainty, rapidly increasing consolidation rates, the surfacing and utilization of artificial intelligence, and the changing dynamics in the dental labor force, organization leaders are approaching pivot points for the future of their dental businesses. From the C-Suite to local managers, leaders are inquiring about:

- How to equip themselves and their teams to face the current market with assurance

- How to stay ahead of competition and improve business results

- How to create a professional culture that encourages team member engagement and retention while driving desirable business outcomes.

We have found that the greatest growth indicators in any successful dental business are: first, a healthy culture; second, clarity of purpose; third, strategic planning. With a healthy culture in place and nurtured with ongoing support, incredible results are possible! Without cultural harmony, however, even the clearest purposes and most strategic plans will suffer.

Healthiest cultures are defined by those in them and those observing them as being adaptable, psychologically safe, motivated, of high integrity, transparent, results-oriented, and collaborative.

With a healthy emphasis on developing an aligned culture, organizations prepare themselves and their teams for change, growth, and expansion. There is a clear link between organizational culture and dental business performance, market valuation, company morale, employee retention, and public reputation.

Dental organizations and businesses that understand and prioritize ongoing cultural support are more likely to exceed employee expectations and, therefore, expedite the achievement of organizational objectives.

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