The 2019 ADSO Summit has officially wrapped up, and the meeting made history with well over 1,100 attendees from emerging dental groups, large dental support organizations, industry partners, associations and dental schools. (Click link at bottom for the official photo gallery.) There were emerging dental groups and DSOs from Canada, Romania, Japan, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and all over the United States, in attendance. Set in San Diego at the Grand Hyatt Regency, the event known as the biggest in the dental support industry, was bigger than ever, but was it better?
The first Association of Dental Support Organizations’ Summit that I attended was back in 2015 in Las Vegas. That was also the first ever ADSO Summit meeting, however, the organization itself has been in existence for quite some time, just under a different name.
I recently interviewed Stephen Thorne, Founder and CEO of Pacific Dental Services for a Group Dentistry Now podcast (listen or watch HERE), and he talks about a gathering of dental group practice leaders years before the formation of the Dental Group Practice Association (DGPA) in 2007. These group practice leaders, which included Bob Fontana, Rick Workman, Rich Beckman, Mitch Olan, and Doug Brown, among others, met up at the ADA annual sessions, and realizing much of the content presented at the ADA meeting did not apply to their businesses, they casually set up informal meetings off to the side.
These DSO leaders then started to meet regularly to discuss issues that were relevant to their businesses, and from those meetings, the concept of an association for dental group practices was born. Stephen Thorne was the first president of the association.
In 2014, the DGPA changed its name to the Association of Dental Support Organizations (ADSO) and then in 2015, the first Summit was held. The 2015 event had a little under 600 attendees and has grown in attendance every year since. In fact, not only has the event grown, the association has grown to be the largest dental group support organization in the world.
The 2019 Summit
The list of important things to accomplish for attendees at the Summit, whether they represent an emerging dental group, DSO or industry partner, tends to be rather short. Most attendees are looking to make connections and network, attend breakout sessions that provide useful education and relevant information, and have easy access to industry partners via the talk tables. Simply put, attendees want to network and learn. How did the 2019 Summit measure up for networking and education?
The Summit had two major networking events and several other shorter networking breaks during the event. The first night’s opening reception was held at the Headquarters in Seaport Village, which was a short walk from the Hyatt Regency. The event was nice since it was all on one level and it was relatively easy to move around and meet people. Two drawbacks were the lack of lighting and the fact that it was chilly. After the sun set it was difficult to see, and I think some people, who assumed San Diego would be warm, ended up leaving early as they were not dressed for the weather. The next night, at the final reception, the weather was a bit warmer and the lighting was much better. Watching the Padres-Giants game from the private rooftop deck at Petco Park was an incredible experience and a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and reconnect with others.
Some of the best networking opportunities were during the group breakfasts and lunches, where attendees had the opportunity to sit and connect with DSO industry professionals and really get a chance to know them. With the goal of meaningful, successful networking, something to consider at this meeting (and others) is setting time aside before the meeting starts for preset appointments. Coming in a day early and having preset meetings before the event can be very productive and does not cut into your time for making new connections once the meeting starts.
Beyond the networking opportunities, there were some great education sessions, featuring over 45 speakers. There were 19 different breakout sessions with content from teledentistry to talent acquisition and retention. One of the biggest challenges was trying to choose which of the 19 breakout sessions to attend. Narrowing down three of the 19 sessions to attend was very difficult. I am hopeful that next year there will be opportunities to attend more of the breakout sessions. There were also two Leadership Panel sessions, and the inspiring closing keynote speaker, Erik Wahl.
Overall, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive for this event. As long as the event continues to have quality networking opportunities and relevant content, the ADSO Summit will remain the must-attend DSO event for industry partners and dental support organizations alike.
The next ADSO Summit will be held in National Harbor, Maryland, which is right outside of Washington D.C., at the Gaylord National Harbor. The dates for the 2020 Summit are March 11 – 13.
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until 2020 if you are interested in attending another ADSO event. Partnering for Growth 2019 will be held in Championsgate, Florida, September 25 – 27. Partnering for Growth is the ADSO’s emerging dental group and DSO event that focuses in on assisting smaller dental group practices and emerging DSOs as they scale. There are a lot of exciting things planned for this event and Group Dentistry Now will be keeping you up-to-date on them.
CEO, Group Dentistry Now & JoinDSO.com
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ADSO Summit 2019 photo gallery!
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