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Pros and Cons to Consider Before Choosing a DSO
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By: Michael Vincelette on November 22nd, 2019

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Pros and Cons to Consider Before Choosing a DSO

DSO  |  Dental Service Organizations

 

Dental service organizations (DSOs) can be quite a favorable choice for both dental workers and practice owners. 

 

For employees, the benefits of working for a DSO versus a private practice can be substantial, like receiving student loan reimbursement. While for owners, these organizations often take care of all the tedious clerical work, like managing payroll.

 

But with any decision in life, there will be both pros and cons. That’s why in this post, we’re covering the perks of working for a DSO as well as the drawbacks. 

 

Here are five important considerations to help you determine if partnering with a DSO is right for you:

 

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1. You may have been offered student loan reimbursement, but you won’t build equity in the practice.

 

It’s not uncommon for students to leave dental school with substantial debt, oftentimes averaging close to $280,000. One huge perk of working for a dental service organization is that some of these dental groups offer assistance in paying down your school loans. Repayment benefits of this nature can provide quick debt reduction, and may be a tempting offer that you can’t refuse. 


DSOs, however, might not align with your long-term investment goals. As with deciding whether to buy or lease a car, , you should keep in mind that as an employee of a DSO you would not be building any equity within the dental practice. If you opted to become a partner in a private practice you would be building equity in that practice. This is a real trade-off to consider.

 

2. New dentists can learn the ropes, but may get stuck in a long contract.

 

If you are a fresh-out-of-school dentist, working for a DSO can not only help you to gain experience within the field, but it can also be a great opportunity to learn about owning your own practice one day. 

 

Many dental service organizations offer continuing education programs, online or live, to help you stay sharp at your trade. Plus, new dental grads will be surrounded by potential “mentors” and experienced staff members for expert guidance. 


A major drawback to joining a DSO is being asked to sign a lengthy contract. You might discover that the DSO does not share your work philosophy. If you come to find that the dental service organization isn’t right for you— maybe the workload or your production quotas are too intense— it can be difficult to back out. Oftentimes DSOs have a legal team ready to go, and leaving before your contract term has ended can really cost you in the end.

 

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3. Older dental practice owners can enjoy some of the perks of retiring without really retiring, but this means giving up a lot of control.

 

Owning your own dental practice brings with it an overwhelming amount of responsibility. Keeping up with HIPAA and OSHA compliance, human resource management, building and equipment maintenance, payroll, and all the other administrative tasks is a full time job alone— never mind tending to patients!

 

Although it’s nice to have someone else take care of the tedious business management “chores” for you, you must also consider the other side of the coin. While you may be able to focus more on your patients and switch to a part-time schedule as you near retirement, you will not have the managerial power you once had. As owner of your dental practice, you called all the shots— but once you relinquish the administrative reins, the DSO higher-ups will dictate the policies and procedures.

 

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4. The DSO might have a good reputation, but you’re playing by their rules.

 

Many dental service organizations have good reputations— known for getting patients in and out very quickly and treating a high volume of clientele. The DSO can also turn to a vast network of resources for help. DSOs have multiple locations and can bring in multiple specialties such as oral surgery, endodontics, orthodontics, on-site lab technicians, etc. They can use these resources to provide convenient and exceptional service beyond a private practice’s smaller crew of doctors and other clinical staff.

 

However, certain dental service organizations have a bad reputation for poor customer service and a “factory” atmosphere, putting a greater emphasis on getting more people in and out of the chair than on the quality of their care. As a dentist employed by a DSO you may feel you are not given enough time with your patients. If you don’t have control over extending the length of an appointment but your patient requires more time, you will run late for the next patient if you take longer. Some DSOs will not allow flexibility with your schedule although the patient requires extra time. If you are a dentist employed by a DSO with a bad reputation, your reputation may suffer.

 

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5. A DSO might have state-of-the-art technology, but private practitioners may ostracize you.

 

Dental service organizations have greater buying power. They often have the ability to negotiate lower prices on equipment and supplies, because they can get them in bulk at a discount. Because of this advantage, DSOs can often get the latest and greatest dental tools, equipment, and software to get the job done better and faster.

 

While easier access to the most modern technology can keep you current in your field and to help you to deliver better service, dentists at private practices often resent DSO providers for these added perks. Private practice dentists often feel threatened when a dental service organization comes into a local community. The DSO is often perceived as having an unfair advantage over private practices in the area. 

 

Security Within Your Practice

 

Whether you’re a dental practice owner interested in joining a DSO or a practitioner in search of a new working environment, your dentistry’s security matters. 

Let the professionals at Integrity Systems & Solutions ensure you’re compliant and protecting sensitive patient records— the right way.

Learn more about our HIPAA compliance services and give us a call at (866) 446-8797 to start improving your security today.

 

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