The DSO Opportunity

A conversation with Heartland Dental’s DeAnn McClain

What does the future look like for dental support organizations? Efficiency in Group Practice posed a few questions to editorial advisory board member DeAnn McClain, vice president of operations for Heartland Dental.

Efficiency in Group Practice: What are the primary challenges facing Heartland Dental and other dental support organizations?

DeAnn McClain: The biggest challenge is the barrier between dental support organizations and solo practitioners – the questions, stories, and the assumptions that people jump to about dental support organizations. Those affiliated with DSOs still lead their offices and make decisions regarding their patients and teams. From that regard, there’s really no difference between a DSO-affiliated office and a non-affiliated office, except for the support and education DSOs offer.

EGP: Describe the prime candidate to affiliate with Heartland Dental? In other words, what type of person or dentist is most likely to thrive in a DSO-supported practice? Are there some dentists for whom it just isn’t a fit?

McClain: Certainly, affiliating practice owners and newly recruited dentists directly out of dental school may have different immediate goals and mindsets. However, all dentists affiliating with Heartland Dental – no matter what experience level or situation – should be open, positive and mentally flexible. In order to fully thrive in a DSO environment, affiliating dentists need to embrace change for the sake of progression, value or adopt a strong leadership mentality, and possess a continuing commitment to best serving their communities. Dentists who are not open to the ideas of others or who refuse to adapt to an ever-changing industry will not likely be the right fit for affiliation with Heartland Dental.

EGP: What are the benefits of affiliating with a DSO such as Heartland Dental for the hygienist or assistant?

McClain: Dentists are not the only people who can benefit from affiliating with a DSO. Team members, whether hygienists, dental assistants or business assistants, can find success as well. With the support and company stability offered, team members enjoy long-lasting, rewarding careers. Because Heartland Dental has affiliated offices in 26 states, team members can find opportunities in a wide variety of locations based on their preference. In addition, because of Heartland Dental’s ongoing growth, they have the opportunity to advance their roles within the organization. Team members also have access to world-class continuing education to further their skills and knowledge.

EGP: Finally, in what way are patients best served by the practices supported by Heartland Dental? What are the benefits to them of forming a relationship with a DSO-supported office?

McClain: With the support that affiliated dentists receive from a DSO, they are able to advance their level of patient care in a number of ways. With their non-clinical responsibilities being handled by teams of experienced specialists, affiliated dentists can dedicate their time specifically to patient care. Instead of worrying about payroll, marketing or IT duties, they can focus on practicing dentistry and maximize the effectiveness of the care they provide. With the educational opportunities offered to affiliated dentists, they can develop new skills and enhance the knowledge they already possess. This not only expands the types of services they can provide to patients, but also helps them carry out these services with the best results possible. Also, with a DSO’s buying power and established relationships with vendors, affiliated dentists have access to cutting edge equipment and technology – all for serving the best interests of their patients.

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