The Group Dentistry Now Show: The Voice of the DSO Industry – Episode 12

Our podcast series brings you dental support organization and emerging dental group practice news, analysis, conversation, trends, and events. Listen to leaders in the DSO and emerging dental group space talk about their challenges, successes, and the future of group dentistry.

In this episode, Joanne Brethauer, North American Special Markets Manager for Septodont joins The Group Dentistry Now Show to discuss her tenured experience in the DSO space. She also introduced the audience to Septodont’s latest technologically advanced delivery system called the DentaPen.  Read an indepth article on the benefits of Dentapen: Dentapen – It’s the Next Generation Cclad.

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

Bill Neumann:
I’d like to welcome everybody to this episode of the Group Dentistry Now Show. I have a special guest with me today and I’ve known Joanne, gosh for better part of a decade, maybe longer than that. I have Joanne Brethauer and she is with Septodont. She is the North American Special Markets Manager at Septodont. I’ve learned something new about somebody I’ve known for a decade, which is amazing, but Joanne started her clinical career back in the Sears dentistry days, so we’ll ask her a little bit about that. She was fortunate enough to move into a dental sales role and that’s where I met her, as a successful tenured career and she is now, currently, and been with Septodont for quite a while now. She is working with Septodont in a DSO and group practice role. So, whether it’s the large DSOs or the or the emerging groups. And her goal is to expand Septodont’s market share through solution-based sales within the DSO network and then also through distribution.

Bill Neumann:
Joanne, good to see you again and welcome to the Group Dentistry Now Show.

Joanne Brethauer:
Yeah, always a pleasure to see you, Bill. Thanks for having me. I’m so excited. I have watched many of your other podcasts, which are quite interesting. So I’m glad to have the opportunity to be here.

Bill Neumann:
Yeah, we’re happy to have you here. And I think a lot of people know you, if they’ve been in the DSO world for any number of years, but maybe some don’t. First, let’s talk about your clinical career.

Joanne Brethauer:
Great.

Bill Neumann:
Let’s talk a little bit about that because I’m interested.

Joanne Brethauer:
Yeah, interesting, right? Initially, my role was clinical, I did a dental assisting, was an FDA and for a DSO a DSO. Back in the ’80s, as we all know, Sears Dentistry was back in the ’80s. I did not work for Sears but I did work for a couple of competing DSOs. It was the same, and very different. Obviously, we didn’t have the practice management solutions we have today, the software packages, we didn’t have digital x-ray, so it was very different being in the office. However, some of those practices are still in existence today. But I have to say, having that clinical knowledge and background really enabled to be fairly successful throughout my career in dentistry; talking one-on-one with clinicians, hygienists. But it’s interesting to really reflect on what it was then and what it is today, completely different. Completely different, actually.

Bill Neumann:
They weren’t DSOs then. Were you a group practice?

Joanne Brethauer:
We were a group practice. When I left, we had 11 locations, the last one, was specific to orthodontics. It was corporately owned. But there were a lot of things you could do back then that you really can’t get away with today. Some of the problems were like cooking the books and things like that. So a lot of DSOs didn’t really make it because of the fact that they just didn’t have the patients [inaudible 00:03:50]. The operations just wasn’t there.

Bill Neumann:
So they weren’t so sophisticated like they are today?

Joanne Brethauer:
Yeah.

Bill Neumann:
Really interesting. Well, good. Well, thanks for that. I didn’t know that. I mean, maybe I knew that maybe you told me, but I’m glad now everybody knows [inaudible] worked for DSL before they were called the DSL. Yes. Yes. They to me severely. But that’s good. Yeah. Sorry about that. Let’s talk a little bit about what you’re doing now. I think that people know who you are, they might not. Let’s talk about the company that you work for, Septodont. We were talking just before we started the record, a little bit about how Septodont is really well known for their products, but lot of people may not know the company.

Joanne Brethauer:
Correct. One of the main reasons is because it’s a family-owned business. It’s interesting, when you’re publicly traded, it’s easy to really go out there and find information about companies. Our company, Septodont, was established in 1932 by Annie and Nestor Schiller and at that time, predominantly anesthetics, needles and some additament. But they really grew the pharmacology part of it, the dental pharmacology, the actual pain management side of Septodont.

Joanne Brethauer:
Henri took it to its next level and continued to grow throughout many other countries. It originated in France. We currently have eight manufacturing facilities throughout the world today and we are registered to sell into 150 countries. It’s amazing, but we’re still family-owned today and that’s Olivia Schiller, who is our CEO and leading us into the next century, which is amazing. But also we still focus our core competency on dental pain management.

Bill Neumann:
Okay. So that leads right into the next question. So as far as Septodont today, how would you say the company is recognized? If you were going to talk to a younger dentist or maybe an established dentist, how would they know Septodont, if it’s not the company, what products do they specifically know?

Joanne Brethauer:
Undoubtedly, it absolutely would be the product Septocaine. In the year 2000, Septodont brought Septocaine to the US and it was a game-changer. Brand new dental anesthetic that addressed issues that they were having with lidocaine and some other types of anesthetics. So it was technologically advanced for an injectable. And it’s amazing because I still hear today from dentists how it changed the way they did dentistry. It was was that good. But it’s amazing with being in pharma and working with a drug, it takes a lot of education and time to really get that product out there to where it needs to be. Your clinicals have to be established and things like that. But still today it’s unsurpassed as far as what it can provide, not only the clinician, but the patient. Because it really offers a profound numbness for a patient as well.

Bill Neumann:
So just about everybody knows Septocaine and now they know who Septodont is. You mentioned, I think, in the 1930s, about 87 years Septodont’s been around, correct?

Joanne Brethauer:
Yes.

Bill Neumann:
And so what are you doing? Things are really evolving quickly, I feel anyway, the speed of change and some of it’s technology-based and it just seems very, very rapid. So what is Septodont doing today to be on the cutting edge?

Joanne Brethauer:
Yeah, that’s a really good question because when you’re… We’re on the side of dental materials. It’s an ever-changing world, like you said, in dentistry today. It’s all about digital dentistry, in all different facets. So not just your digital x-rays, but your marketing, every aspect digitalization is coming in. It’s imperative that you really stay cutting edge.

Joanne Brethauer:
We committed and focused in the area of dental pain management. The interesting thing is it’s a mission-critical product not only for the dentist, but the patient, as well as our distributors. However, we strive constantly to bring new technologies and offer solution-based providing patients with better outcomes, delivering better patient experience. So we’re just committed. But we do have some new things on the horizon that are really going change the way dentistry is done, kind of like the Septocaine story, so we’re excited about that.

Joanne Brethauer:
And also looking outward too. We’ve done a lot of acquisitions over the past 10 years and we’ve also done what I call de novo manufacturing. We’ve moved into some other countries and have established ourselves there as well. We’re really looking at staying relevant globally, is very important to us. But yet, once again, just really looking for something that’s going to change that patient experience as well.

Bill Neumann:
As far as product introductions, you had one that was relatively recent this past year, focused on pain management, so let’s talk a little bit about that.

Joanne Brethauer:
Yeah. So this really falls into the innovative digital side of the world, which is great because we introduced the Dentapen, which was approximately this time last year. It was a prelaunch. The Dentapen is a new CCLAD. CCLAD being a computer-controlled local anesthetic delivery device. This device allows a dentist to improve on the manual process of delivering dental anesthetics as they do today, so using the basic syringe, and a needle, and using your manual abilities. Interesting because it’s so needed, I think. Because it’s a computer chip control, it enables the clinician to control the speed, as well as, it measures and senses and regulates pressure of the injection, as well.

Joanne Brethauer:
What’s important about those two things, the pressure and the speed, are those are two factors that come into the realm of a pain with the injection. Anytime that you can improve in this area, it’s going to be beneficial to the clinician, but extremely beneficial to the patient as well. The consistency of an injection is so important. By controlling these factors, it allows a dentist or hygienist to give the same injection at 8:00 AM, as they would at 3:00 PM, no matter how your day is going. It takes the actual manual, physical properties out of the actual, I’ll give it as an injection. It really does make a difference.

Bill Neumann:
So, consistency.

Joanne Brethauer:
Consistency and it just provides a more comfortable injection. It’s amazing. As you and I both know, we’ve been to many events where we’ve heard speakers and seen data in regards to why do patients not go to the dentist? And the number one reason is the fear of pain. Now, interestingly enough, a lot of people associate that with a needle, but also just pain in general around dentistry. I mean, most times patients show up because they’re in pain, they have pain during the times they’re there and post-op pain can also possibly be an issue.

Joanne Brethauer:
Anytime you can change and really just make it better for the patient regarding the pain aspect, it’s going to be helpful. I think this tool is amazing, one, because patients are going to look to see to have a better… If there’s a better way to have an injection, they want to know about it. But also, being able to market your office as well with this, your practice, is key for that. Anytime you can improve a process, even though it does… We’re habitual, everyone has habits, so it does require some change, just like all the other things coming about in dentistry, all these new digital tools we have. But just being accepted and trying to make some changes. And I think it’s amazing because I think what I’m finding too, dentists just enjoy doing something different, changing it up to something that they do every day, maybe 10 times a day. I really think it’s a game-changer and it’s going to change the way we do dentistry.

Bill Neumann:
So relatively new product, about a year old, a little less than a year since it’s been launched. How are the DSOs and emerging groups receiving this? What are some of the benefits you would say are more specific to a group practice or a DSO?

Joanne Brethauer:
Right. I think I’m seeing more acceptance, more interest, more intrigued with the emerging groups. It’s a little more manageable for them to get out there and do product trials. They also are looking to really differentiate themselves. This tool is excellent for that, as well as, I think, any not only emerging group but DSO, a lot of young doctors coming into these groups. This tool can allow them to become really proficient and excellent at something maybe they haven’t done for 10 years. So it’s going to get them to that level faster, possibly. But also too, I think from a marketing standpoint, it’s something they can offer a patient that may be different than Joe, next door, or whatever the case may be.

Bill Neumann:
Yeah, that’s a great point. So you have younger clinicians that don’t have the experience, giving injections, or not as much experience, so this would give them a little bit more of a comfort, makes them more comfortable as they do this and then they get to be hopefully, more proficient. Yeah, I love it. And then, of course, the marketing. That makes a lot of sense, where I think, maybe solo practitioners aren’t so focused on the marketing. It’s one way for a DSO or an emergent group to stand out. So pretty cool stuff. So, that’s the Dentapen.

Bill Neumann:
This is something that I think is equally important when it comes to DSOs and emerging group. If a DSO or a smaller group was interested in this product or any product from Septodont, so how do you go about educating them, onboarding? Tell us the process there because there still is a learning curve, right?

Joanne Brethauer:
With the Dentapen, there is a learning curve but it’s actually fairly quick, what we’re finding.

Bill Neumann:
Great.

Joanne Brethauer:
Obviously, we’ve sold these out in the marketplace, already within the nine months that we’ve been shipping. I think just with a mindset of this is the way I do it. This is the way I’ve always done it. Right? So changing that over. I think with the younger doctors, they’re very interested. We’ve gotten a lot of response from young doctors, especially.

Joanne Brethauer:
I think in turn, as far as onboarding, I think it just requires a trial, seeing the value. So really, actually, and this is what we do, we offer the assistance to go in, review the product, stay in place as they’re utilizing it for maybe a couple of hours, and really getting the response of the patient. That’s what’s amazing, when a patient gets out of the chair and, “Wow, didn’t really feel that palatal injection.” A lot of times that’s what’s selling this device.

Joanne Brethauer:
And then the dentists, I find, uses it for not just one, two, three types of injections, but all injections. That’s another thing to note, this is a product that goes room-to-room. It’s excellent in that regard. Can be reprocessed seven times over. And then it’s so efficient that there’s no aftermarket costs on the device as well. So they utilize what they’re currently using today. They’re saving cartridges of anesthetic and they save needles. So there’s a lot of differentials. But I do think providing them the assistance of letting them trial the product is very important. Coming back with questions, from an onboarding standpoint.

Joanne Brethauer:
We do other things for onboarding as well, from pain management. Obviously, we can provide other types of education. We can do hands-on injection technique. We have the KOLs that can provide that. And then as well, we have tools, leave-behinds, that go into an onboarding kit possibly. And one, it’s called the anesthetic wheel. Many of our DSOs are taking advantage of this. It’s a wheel that we provide them that shows every type of anesthetic, allowing them to see the max dose, the minimum dose, the weight, all of these things, indicated in one source and then inside it also has a package insert, which has all the dental anesthetics listed, all on one sheet because technically, we really should have that somewhere.

Bill Neumann:
It sounds like a great resource.

Joanne Brethauer:
Yes.

Bill Neumann:
You’re actually saying that a lot of times by trialing the product, the patient feedback sells the product.

Joanne Brethauer:
Absolutely. I’m going to say maybe as high as 30, 40%, so far. I’ve witnessed it. It’s quite amazing. Pressure injections, obviously, and then others that are more painful just because of the way they’re given and where they’re given in the mouth. Utilizing this device for that and minimizing the pain, and the patient’s like, “It’s the best thing ever.” Having the patient say, “That was great.”

Bill Neumann:
Yeah, from a patient perspective, a lot of times the pain is associated with the needle and not necessarily with the procedure. So it’s either the pain that they have and the reason that they’re at the dentist, so they had the pain prior, or the needle because maybe you have a clinician that’s not completely comfortable with giving injections or hasn’t done that for, like you said, 10 years. So, this will alleviate a lot of those issues and have that consistency. That’s interesting.

Bill Neumann:
Let’s move on and talk a little bit more broadly about what you see when you’re working day-to-day with emerging groups and DSOs. So what are some of the challenges in general? It could be pain management related, but just in general, what are you seeing today?

Joanne Brethauer:
I think in general, one is just… I think with DSOs, it’s so competitive. I see a lot of competition out there now. We have emerging groups, we have DSOs, and we have DSOs taking over emerging groups. It’s almost like you can’t keep track. But I also see just keeping your core values in place. There’s DSOs that are amazing at doing this. I listened to them at certain events I attend, and I’m blown away. But, I think that’s key is really having those core values in place, because I think patients are also very digitally aware. So there’s a lot of access for them today. They love the fact, especially the millennials, that they can schedule their appointments and things like that, but they’re also going to do research.

Joanne Brethauer:
The web provides all of us a lot of information. I think that’s one challenge that they have, really engaging with the patient. I don’t think they realize how much that’s needed. And then also outside of DSOs and emerging groups, we also have GPOs that are also forming, as well. They have a new platform coming in, which is interesting.

Bill Neumann:
Yeah, absolutely. It’s led to confusion in the industry right now. You’re right, TPOs are the latest and I’m still trying to wrap my head around exactly what they are and what they do.

Joanne Brethauer:
Right, right.

Bill Neumann:
I think some of them are trying to figure their models out, as well. So pretty interesting stuff and I totally agree that there’s a lot of transparency on the internet. I think technology, if you’re a DSO or an emerging group, you have to keep up with technology. So you talked about booking online, what millennials or the younger patients are expecting from an experience, whether it’s dental or anything. Dental is wrapped into medical, which is wrapped into almost like a retail experience.  Like Amazon, I guess; everything delivered in two days. I want to be able to book things online, I want to be able to make changes.

Joanne Brethauer:
Right, right. I want to see the dentist tomorrow.

Bill Neumann:
Right. So tell me a little bit about what 2020 looks like for Septodont. Again, right before we recorded this, we were talking a little bit. You’ve got a couple product launches next year that maybe you can’t talk about now, but you’ve got some new things on the horizon. Dentapen certainly this year, is the latest and greatest and making some changes for the industry. What do you think of 2020 for Septodont, and then any predictions on the industry in general?

Joanne Brethauer:
2020 for Septodont, it looks great. I will have to say we are ready to come into 2020, come to the age, because we over the last 10 years, have really evolved just from the standpoint of taking our company to the next level; making sure that we are incorporating digitalization within our organization. I think that’s important too. Because just churning and burning products out there, it’s great, but you really have to have the back office as well, really running well, to support all of your initiatives.

Joanne Brethauer:
I’m very proud of my company and like I said, you have no idea, the changes that they really have done just from IT standpoint, HR, and they invest in their people, which is amazing. With that, it allows us to also do the acquisitions that we need to move forward, or possibly develop new products and bring those to market as well. Acquisitions for us is a new thing, really. We’ve always really stayed very close to just doing everything ourselves. I think that’s really going to help us in 2020, evolves to be bigger and better than where we are already today.

Joanne Brethauer:
But yeah, the one new product is still in our realm, which is interesting. It will address pain management and it’s going to be good. I’m so happy. It’s a product that we had many years ago and we’re actually resurrecting. And a lot of uses, especially from a hygiene standpoint, because it will technically maybe lead to a profound one-hour procedure, but it will address a lot of other just sensitivities and heightened pain issues that patients have when they come into the dental practice. We’re excited about that.

Bill Neumann:
And we can look forward to that sometime in 2020?

Joanne Brethauer:
Yes.

Bill Neumann:
Okay.

Joanne Brethauer:
Early in 2020.

Bill Neumann:
Early 2020, okay, we’ll hold you to that. But right now, the Dentapen is really what your focus is and what seems to be really important to emerging groups and DSOs?

Joanne Brethauer:
Yes. Today, yeah. I think they should embrace it. And I think if anything, it’s worth investigating because I think they would be surprised at what it possibly can do to their DSO or their practices. And maybe it’s just they’re pediatric practices, or maybe it’s their endodontic practice. Sometimes we’re seeing that it’s really kind of veering into specialties, in many cases.

Bill Neumann:
Interesting.

Joanne Brethauer:
So, there are lots of niches for this product. But I do believe it’s for every dentist, and it brings value to every dentist and it’s just a niche.

Bill Neumann:
Well, thanks Joanne. I appreciate you spending time with us today and educating us about Septodont and the Dentapen and what’s going to be happening in 2020. You told us a little bit about it anyway, a little tease there. We appreciate it. We’re looking forward to finding out more about what Septodont’s up to next year.

Bill Neumann:
We’ll have the contact information for Joanne. If they want to reach you, what’s your email address, real quick?

Joanne Brethauer:
It’s Jbrethauer@septodont.com.

Bill Neumann:
You’re going to have to spell that.

Joanne Brethauer:
It’s J and it’s B-R-E-T-H-A-U-E-R@septodont.com.

Bill Neumann:
Excellent, and we’ll have a graphic up. Anybody that’d be watching the video, they can see that email address there and you can contact Joanne, or you’ll see her at one of the many DSO or emerging group meetings that is now in existence in 2020.

Joanne Brethauer:
Yes.

Bill Neumann:
Thanks again, and thanks everybody, for watching and listening to the Group Dentistry Now Show.

Joanne Brethauer:
Thank you, Bill.

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