The Group Dentistry Now Show: The Voice of the DSO Industry – Episode 14

Our podcast series brings you dental support and emerging dental group practice analysis, conversation, trends, news 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, we talk to Chris Badgley, Executive Director of ADSO. He announces for the first time anywhere their new ADSO Academy for emerging dental groups & DSOs! He also discusses other new initiatives for emerging DSOs, including lower membership rates, the upcoming ADSO Summit with new tracks for emerging DSOs, Summit offerings for industry partners, including the very popular and almost sold out talk tables, and networking opportunities for all. Listen and learn how valuable the ADSO is to our DSO community and what they can do for you.

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

Bill Neumann:
I’d like to welcome everybody to the Group Dentistry Now show and we have a special guest with us. So we’ve had the ADSO representative on now, this will be our second podcast, the first one was with Luke LaLiberte and that was back in August, September time frame and now really nice to have Chris Badgley who is the Executive Director of the ADSO. Chris, welcome to the Group Dentistry Now show.

Chris Badgley:
Thanks a lot, Bill.

Bill Neumann:
So, I’ll give you a little background on Chris here and it’s actually pretty extensive experience. So if I leave anything out, Chris, please fill it in. Chris has extensive experience in government affairs and association management. He lived a state government affairs function at Pfizer before moving to that industry’s trade association, and the industry being the pharmaceutical industry, and the association being the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Association. He was a senior vice president of government and public affairs and as acting deputy chief of staff, he managed the pharmaceutical industry’s campaign to support passage of the Affordable Care Act. After serving as Senior VP of Commercial Policy and State Government Affairs at CompTIA, that’s the Technology Association of America, moved back into the pharmaceutical industry. And he’s also served on several of the advocacy and public affairs executive committees and advisory boards and now we’re really happy to have him in the DSO space representing the industry and working with the ADSO as the executive director. Thanks for being here, Chris.

Chris Badgley:
Thank you, Bill.

Bill Neumann:
And again, almost everything right?

Chris Badgley:
Yeah, you got everything good.

Bill Neumann:
Okay. Sounds good. Most of our audience probably knows a little bit about the ADSO, but give us a little bit about the background on the ADSO, the mission, and then go from there.

Chris Badgley:
Yeah. The ADSO actually started as a study group from some of the largest and earliest players in the DSO space. And over the course of time evolved into trade association. So the ADSO is really a trade association that presents the companies that support affiliated doctors, clinicians practicing dentistry. And our real purpose is to expand and make sure that the DSO practice model continues to grow and thrive. We know that it’s increasing probably quicker than any other segment of the practice of dentistry but certainly we want to make sure that that continues and that both the public know and understand what the DSO practice model is and policy makers as well so that there aren’t any untoward legislative or regulatory initiatives that would retard the progress that might have an impact and actually end up decreasing access or affordability to oral healthcare.

Bill Neumann:
So that is, you’re a busy person. You have a busy team there.

Chris Badgley:
Yeah. We’re very small. We’re very lean. But we’re never wanting for things to do.

Bill Neumann:
That’s great. So we’re going to talk about a couple different things besides the ADSO itself. We’re going to talk about the biggest DSO event in the industry, which is an ADSO event, called The Summit. And that event is actually about less than two months away really.

Chris Badgley:
Yeah.

Bill Neumann:
So the event is in National Harbor, so it’s actually close to where your offices are, outside of Washington, D.C. so National Harbor which is in Maryland and it’s at the Gaylord.

Chris Badgley:
Yes, correct.

Bill Neumann:
Yep. And that’s March 11th through 13th.

Chris Badgley:
Yep.

Bill Neumann:
So coming up really, really quickly. So tell us a little bit about The Summit.

Chris Badgley:
The Summit’s our annual event for our members and guests both industry partners and DSOs who might not be currently ADSO members but they’re certainly welcome to come and participate. I guess we’ll get into it in a couple of moments regarding some of the initiatives that we’re looking to do going forward into 2020. But we’re restructuring some of our membership to allow for guest DSOs to buy into membership platform and membership package that gives them access to the annual summit at a price point and at a cost that is just slightly more than if they were to come as a guest and pay the full registration fee. That’s one of our initiatives that we’re pretty proud of and pretty excited about for this year.

Bill Neumann:
So in the past if somebody wasn’t a member, a DSO wasn’t a member of the ADSO and they spent the money to attend The Summit, now with the way you’ve priced it in essence they could become a member of the ADSO and would really cost them about the same thing as just attending The Summit?

Chris Badgley:
Yeah, yep.

Bill Neumann:
That’s great.

Chris Badgley:
Pretty close.

Bill Neumann:
Yep. So that’s good news. It’s not a member-locked event, right? So you don’t, you talk about guest fees, so you don’t have to be a member to attend?

Chris Badgley:
Correct. What we do, we are a membership organization. This is a membership meeting, first and foremost, but certainly for those DSOs that might not be aware of what we offer as a trade association to them, they’re certainly welcome to come to the meeting as a guest for one year and then they can decide whether it’s worth their time and money to actually join the organization and reap other member benefits that are included in what we do on an ongoing basis for them going forward.

Bill Neumann:
And this is a big event. I think last year you had 11 hundred, does that sound right?

Chris Badgley:
Yes. Yeah, close to 11 hundred people.

Bill Neumann:
Right.

Chris Badgley:
Just under 11 hundred.

Bill Neumann:
Yeah. And the Gaylord can certainly accommodate that and more so that’s wonderful. So as far as The Summit goes and people being able to attend, let’s say DSO attendees we have all different sizes and shapes and models really when we talk about DSOs. So what are the benefits for like a smaller emerging group? Let’s say I’m an emerging group and I have three or four locations, what would I expect at The Summit?

Chris Badgley:
It’s interesting because we used to have the size of The Summit, an event that we called Our Partnering for Growth, where our industry partners, vendors, suppliers, distributors would come and partner with some of the smaller DSOs, the emerging DSOs, to help them move forward with their business expansion and their scaling. Actually, now we’re combining the Partnering for Growth and the annual summit into one large event and we have a Partnering for Growth track. So if you’re an emerging DSO, there’s a Partnering for Growth track that you can come and participate and it will give you the same types of modularity whether it’s compliance or marketing, revenue management, the things that you might have a pain point in your business as you’re trying to scale and trying to grow. And those are kind of like the Reader’s Digest condensed versions. The other tracks that we’re having because we are going to have a track on marketing, we are going to have a track on recruiting and retention, so an HR track, a technology track.

Chris Badgley:
The good thing about the summit is that even if you’re an emerging DSO and come primarily for example, for Partnering for Growth track, if you see something that interests you in another track you’re not locked in to any track, you can skip track and mix and match for what you’re trying to look for and get out of how to build and grow your business. The other thing is certainly as a member is a member value is that we do have, not just this year after the summit, the recordings, the videos from the various sessions that you can go back and look and see if there’s a session that you wanted to attend but missed because you were attending something else that was a higher priority. You can go back and see not only those sessions that you missed in the 2020 summit, but you can also access other sessions from summits in the past. So, again, that’s part of the member value that you get is that you have access to all that great content to help you grow your business.

Bill Neumann:
I think that’s one of the challenges. You have so much great content there that you can’t possibly be in all tracks at one time. So I was just taking a look at the website and you have tracks like you mentioned Partnering for Growth, which I think is done in panel format, correct?

Chris Badgley:
Yeah.

Bill Neumann:
So you’ve got each section or each piece to the Partnering for Growth you’re going to have three or four people speaking to whatever that is whether it’s leadership or marketing or compliance. But you also have individual tracks like leadership, growth, and development, compliance, technology, human resources. So there’s a lot so the ability to actually access that after the fact by a video, would be great.

Chris Badgley:
Yeah. And those other tracks, as you had mentioned, the more specific non Partnering for Growth tracks, which again are in some ways the Reader’s Digest condensed version of some of the other tracks is that our larger regional and our national DSOs often send, for example, their marketing people to the annual summit and attend a marketing meeting. So we are going to have, for example, under marketing an outreach and revenue generation on a patient side, patient retention and marketing. So again, it’s going to be a deeper dive into those areas for those companies that are larger than an emerging, again, a regional or a national but they have pain points as well. The Summit, it does have segments, does have sessions but yet there’s something in there for everybody. And again, you can mix and match depending on what your interest is and you can rewind after The Summit when the videos are posted on the sessions to see what you might’ve missed and pick up some nuggets out of that at your convenience.

Bill Neumann:
And if anybody wants to see the individual tracks, they can go either to the ADSO website or you can go to Group Dentistry Now and go into our events section and find the ADSO summit and explore that. So that’s National Harbor, again, which is outside of Washington March 11th through the 13th and that’s at the Gaylord. So before we move on to some other things here, because we got a couple other, we mentioned one of the differences which is going to be Partnering for Growth. So that used to be a separate meeting and now it’s a track within The Summit, so that’s one of the big differences. Let’s talk a little bit about the industry partners or the vendors. So what can they expect at The Summit?

Chris Badgley:
Is that the industry partners, we do have talk tables available, they’re in an exhibit area. They’re booking very quickly so if you have an interest as an industry partner and haven’t booked that, book it now. The other thing that certainly our industry partners have is the availability to network with C-suite leaders of the ADSO as well as some of their senior staff. And what our industry partners find a lot of times is that certainly it’s easier to come to ADSO and do some of that networking, do some of that marketing of their products, of their activity, and make the connection and possibly uptake with a DSO that may have anywhere from 30 to 800 to a thousand locations. It affords them the ability to have access to a lot larger market than going to some of the other events where you’re getting one-off dental offices and much smaller groups. Again, the scale of this meeting and the type of networking that can occur here is on a larger scale than most of the other meetings that you might come across during the remainder of the year.

Bill Neumann:
So that’s The Summit. I don’t think I’ll have to say it but it’s the biggest event. I was going to compare it to a football game but I don’t think I’m even allowed to do that. It’s the biggest football game out there, you know what I’m talking about.

Chris Badgley:
Yeah, because I think that’s copyright.

Bill Neumann:
Yeah, I think you’re right. But it is like that in the DSO space. So definitely worthwhile going to and the fact that Partnering for Growth is going to be part of that, of The Summit now, it’s even going to be bigger and more impactful I think. So I’m really looking forward to it. It’s always a lot of fun. The networking opportunities are first-class and then, of course, the content is abundant. So yeah, you’re right, it’s kind of nice to have that ability to skip from track to track depending on which one be a part of.

Chris Badgley:
Absolutely.

Bill Neumann:
So moving on from The Summit, let’s talk about the ADSO. So what initiatives do you have for this year? You talked a little bit about changing up the membership options and making it easier for smaller groups or people that were kind of dipping their toe in the water as guest DSOs, now they can become part of the ADSO for just a little bit more than what they would pay to attend The Summit. What else do you have going on?

Chris Badgley:
I think one of the things, and I’m previewing this for this podcast audience.

Bill Neumann:
Okay.

Chris Badgley:
Here’s a spoiler alert for those of you that are listening to the podcast, for those who are not, they’ll find out at the annual summit but we have created a program called The ADSO Academy. This is a mentorship type program where some of our larger national and our larger regional DSOs are actually opening up one of their facilities, whether it’s a regional office, if it’s a national or coming into headquarters of one of our regional DSOs and having access to the C-suite team and pulling back the curtain on some of the operational stuff that goes on at that DSO. We’re going to do these once a quarter for the second, third, and fourth quarter since our annual summit is in the first quarter of the year, but we’re going to have three of these a year starting later in 2020. Again, they’re going to be limited because of the amount of space that is available at our member locations.

Chris Badgley:
Generally, it’s going to run anywhere from 20 to, I’d say, 50 on the top end participants but again, it’ll give especially emerging DSOs an opportunity to come in for a four to six hour period of time in one of our larger member facilities and be shown either marketing, revenue management, C-suite operations. It depends on what the member who’s sponsoring that event is showcasing that day, the content’s actually going to be put on by that member and the program put on by that member. But it’s an opportunity, again, for especially emerging DSOs to come in and see behind the scenes and then also develop a relationship with that C-suite. So as they’re scaling, as they might get stuck and hit a pain point, they’ll have a number that they can pick up the phone and call somebody in that company and say, “Look, I’m stuck,” or “I’ve got a question that came out of the ADSO Academy that occurred at your company the other day, the other month. And can you answer a question for me?” And our members are opening up and willing to do that.

Chris Badgley:
So that’s going to be a huge value as I see it especially to create community and create stickiness between all of our members and provide additional comment beyond just The Summit.

Bill Neumann:
That’s exciting. So you’re going to have three different academies within a year so it’ll be Q2, 3, and 4 because The Summit’s Q1. And they’ll be at different ADSO members, so most likely the larger members, right?

Chris Badgley:
Yep.

Bill Neumann:
I would guess.

Chris Badgley:
Yep.

Bill Neumann:
And you would have to be a ADSO, DSO member to be part of the academy, correct?

Chris Badgley:
Correct. Yes.

Bill Neumann:
Yeah. That sounds good. Well, that’s a … I’m glad you were able to preview that here. That’s big news.

Chris Badgley:
Indeed. That’s probably our largest initiative for the year. There’s other things that we’re looking to do. One of the things that our members have requested, and even our non-members, as something that we could provide them of value that would attract them as members is to look at building out our compliance offering. So one of the things that we’re doing as well is we’ve taken a best practices from many of our largest members and certainly our larger members in terms of what they do for compliance. And although there’s a compliance track within the annual summit, this year and going forward no doubt will continue to do it, but we’re looking at possibly developing an accreditation program for compliance that’ll have several different component parts both developed within ADSO and then other organizations outside of ADSO that are active in a compliance space in a number of areas. And so should you get and complete these modules, we’re looking at having an ADSO compliance accreditation program for our members to say we are compliant with ADSO compliance.

Bill Neumann:
That’s great. So two big initiatives this year.

Chris Badgley:
Yes.

Bill Neumann:
Yeah. Well, great. You have been busy. So I’ve got one last question to kind of wrap everything together. So hopefully we’ll see everybody that’s listening or watching or reading or whatever you’re doing to consume this information at The Summit and then hopefully if you’re a DSO, you either are already a member of the ADSO or you become a member. And if you’re an industry partner, the only way you can get to the event is if you become an industry partner, right?

Chris Badgley:
Correct.

Bill Neumann:
So tell us, you’ve had a little bit over a year now in the DSO space where you create ADSO and your background is pharma. So you came from the pharmaceutical side and you’re in technology as well. Give us a little perspective now that you’ve been in the industry a year and we’ve gone sort of the beginning of a new year, we’re at the beginning of a new decade, what do you see? What does the opportunity look like?

Chris Badgley:
I think the opportunity for DSOs in a lot of ways is still unlimited. There is a limit but there’s so much runway still for DSOs to expand and to grow and to improve access, affordability, and quality in the oral healthcare space. Medicine did this type of consolidation and organization 20, 25 years ago, I was involved in that on the medical side. [inaudible 00:21:46] pharmaceutical space as the medical side really organized in a way that DSOs are but for dentists to be burdened with having to do all the business activity that keeps them away from patient care, we can do so much to improve oral healthcare in the United States by letting clinicians do what they do best which is to treat patients and allow businesses like DSOs to do what they do best which is to support affiliated practices and make sure that all those business headaches are taken care of so that the dentists and their office staff can take care of patients and address patient concerns and not be burdened with the business aspects.

Chris Badgley:
So there’s still so much space in order for that growth to occur. It’s growing, again, more quickly than any other practice model in the dental space but there’s still a lot of room to grow. And with that, we can provide a lot of networking, a lot of education, a lot of knowledge to allow DSOs that want to grow to continue to grow and hopefully accelerate their growth.

Bill Neumann:
I think you’re spot on. If you think about it, when the Heartlands and the Aspens and the Pacifics of the world we’re building their models out there was nobody to turn to, it hadn’t been done before. So now you have a resource like the ADSO as an emerging group to go to and say, “Hey, I’m stuck here.” And my guess is that many of your members have been stuck at that same point before so it’s great to have that resource that wasn’t available before.

Chris Badgley:
Absolutely.

Bill Neumann:
Thanks, Chris. Thanks for talking about a couple initiatives that are going to be a big deal in 2020 for the industry. And the next time I’ll see you is at The Summit, I guess.

Chris Badgley:
Sounds good. Unless you’re going to one of the other meetings between now and then.

Bill Neumann:
That might be happening. There are a lot of them. All right. Well, thanks again, Chris. And thanks everybody for watching and listening to the Group Dentistry Now show. We’ll see everybody at The Summit.

Chris Badgley:
Thanks, Bill. Thanks everybody. See you then.

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