Ready to Retire? See Practice Transitions from the Perspective of Patients & Staff

When my brother and I founded DecisionOne Dental, our primary decision was to always put patients first. We are both practicing dentists and, like many other clinicians, our relationship with the families that we serve is what compelled us to become healthcare providers. As our business expanded from two to nearly 30 offices, we’ve renewed that original commitment and expanded it. By becoming truly “people-first” we’ve been able to strengthen relationships with patients, increase the value of the practice, and model smooth transitions for outgoing and incoming doctors. Here’s how.

In the best cases, a dentist who has built a practice over a professional lifetime has done so with a dedicated team of hygienists, technicians and office staff. Chances are that not all of these people will be ready to retire when you do. If you want to be sure that your patients remain in good care after you’re done practicing, your team is an invaluable part of the transition. Empower them to be proactive agents in the coming change and advocates for the needs of your patients. Every practice has unique challenges, but many have already developed solutions with creative and dedicated teamwork. Well-planned and inclusive office transitions can further foster positive team dynamics.

Talk with your patients about their concerns. As doctors we often think of patients as “our” relationships, but the obvious truth is that these relationships are two-way and are shared by the people in our chairs. Presumably you are selling your practice to a doctor or DSO with a similar care philosophy and a similar technical approach to dentistry. However, “similar” is not “the same.” Encourage your patients to talk with you and incoming doctors about how treatments will be different. They’ve entrusted you with their oral healthcare and implicit in the sale of your business is the trust that you have in the quality of the dental practice after you’re gone.

Relationships take time to develop and in dentistry most interactions are infrequent. We all have patients that we’ve known for years, sometimes from childhood through to adulthood. While there’s no “right” amount of time for a transition of your practice to a new doctor, remember that you see patients every day, but many of your patients only see you twice a year. The speed of the transition is all relative, but if you can see it through the eyes of your patients and staff, the longevity of the legacy of care that you’ve established will become more apparent.

Practice valuation takes into account many objective measurements and the quality of the relationships that you and your team have created is an important part of that overall assessment. To put it in financial terms: your investment into people pays healthy dividends. In moral terms: putting people first is invaluable.

Written by AJ Acierno DDS. Dr. Acierno grew up in Chicago and attended Notre Dame High School in Niles. Afterward, he enrolled at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Throughout his life he has always been interested in the field of Science. He graduated from Creighton in 1997 with a degree in Biology with an emphasis in Mammalian Physiology. Although his background was in medical research, his aspiration was to become a dentist. He graduated Creighton Dental School in 2001. After graduating he was given the opportunity to practice in Peoria, IL for three years. In the past several years he has expanded his dental network of professionals in order to share the skills and knowledge of the dental technology that are now available in the 21st century. 

DecisionOne Dental is a network of carefully curated dental professionals who value personal doctor-patient relationships and high quality patient care. Over the last decade, the growing complexity of the dental sector has diluted doctors’ focus and led to a perceived reduction in patient care and trust. DecisionOne Dental Partners was founded by brothers Dr. AJ and Dr. Mike Acierno, both practicing family dentists, who believe dentistry can thrive locally while adhering to the core values that support patients above all else. With 28 current locations, DecisionOne is the fastest growing dental group in Illinois. DecisionOne Dental has been named one of the “Top Workplaces” for mid-sized businesses in Illinois (The Chicago Tribune) and one of “9 Dental Groups In The Nation to Watch” (Group Dentistry Now). Acierno Dental in Schaumburg was also identified as a “Top Doctor” by Chicago magazine.

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