After a week to recover and reflect on yet another outstanding Dykema Definitive DSO Conference, I am left inspired and invigorated with the continued evolution of group dentistry and in our country. Having 1,000+ members of the dental community gather in Colorado for 3 days of reconnecting, learning and growth was extremely impactful all attendees. The most obvious lesson is that the state of the dental industry is stronger than ever. Using three words to describe the DSO space: Growth, Change and Excellence.
Clinical Excellence: Patient Care Remains Paramount
There is always some level of debate as to whether DSO – the business of group dentistry creates the wrong incentives – putting profits before patient care. It is easy to understand that potential concern, but anyone attending the conference would have those doubts quickly erased. The discussions whether on stage or in the conference hallways were not about how to drive revenue and profits, rather it was about how to deliver better patient care, enhanced patient experiences, a better work environment for patients and staff, and how oral health needs to become an increasingly important area of focus to ensure long-term health for the general population.
For too long the dental industry did not advocate for themselves, and as a result, the medical industry has received most of our government’s focus and attention. Poor oral health leads to poor systemic health. The DSO industry collectively understands that better than others and is committed to delivering innovative care and creating a stronger voice to ensure this message ultimately results in convergences of medical and dental coverage and overall better patient outcomes. And while indeed DSOs are businesses so financial performance does matter, the focus on patient care and clinical excellence is driving the ongoing financial success.
Growth – Private Equity continues to fuel the industry
The private equity industry had spent the decade prior to the pandemic fueling DSO industry growth and consolidation. When dental care was put on pause for several months in 2020, there was much discussion as to whether the private equity sector would shift their perspective on investment in the space. The only notable shift in the last 12 months is that as dental groups quickly rebounded to patients returned for both routine and essential treatment, private equity focus on the industry seems to have actually accelerated.
New DSO platforms are taking shape across general dentistry, oral surgery, pediatric dental and a wide range of other specialties. Groups are creating differentiated approaches to attract both smaller groups as well as individual practices. You could actually feel the excitement in the air at the conference. The next 10 years should provide continued evolution and growth fueled by private equity backing.
Change – Women in DSO
Led by a visionaries and leaders across the DSO space, Women in DSO was took center stage and got a resoundingly positive response. While there are so many extraordinary women in the dental community, relatively few C-Suite positions in the dental industry currently are filled by women. There were panel discussions, focused events and the several leading companies and DSO’s that stood up financially and vocally to put energy behind this mission. Dr. Aman Kaur founded the organization in 2019, but it appears the time is now advance and promote women leaders across the DSO industry.
The acknowledgements and additional positive takeaways from the conference are endless – new technologies, better supported practices, sharing knowledge to enhance leadership. Throw in seeing hundreds of industry colleagues after far too long, a great evening outside with the Spazmatics on stage, an incredible discussion with soccer icon Mia Hamm on leadership, and it was a truly impressive and valuable three days. Thanks to Brian Colao and the entire Dykema team for continuing to drive positive change and make for such a meaningful and memorable conference.
Michael Roub is an experienced strategic consultant and Managing Partner of Inflection 360. Michael advises healthcare practices and small businesses on a wide range of strategic initiatives with an emphasis on corporate development and acquisitions.