The Group Dentistry Now Show: The Voice of the DSO Industry – Episode 9

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, Jim Conte, Senior Director of Strategic Accounts N.A. for Carestream Dental and Jeff Telford, Director of Product Management for Carestream Dental’s Cloud Practice Management Solutions, discuss DSO and emerging dental technology solutions.  Jim and Jeff also discuss the Carestream Dental Global Oral Health Summit and the DSO track geared toward emerging dental groups and dental support organizations. Use code GDN to save $50. Find out more about the Summit – HERE

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

Bill Neumann:
I’d like to welcome everyone to the Group Dentistry Now Show. I’m really happy to have our guests here today. We actually have two people that joined us today from Carestream Dental and they’re at their corporate offices in Atlanta, Georgia right now. I’d like to welcome Jim Conte and Jeff Telford from Carestream Dental. Welcome gentlemen to the show.

Jim Conte:
Thanks Bill

Jeff Telford:
Hey Bill, glad to be here.

Bill Neumann:
So I’d like to introduce both of them. So Jim is the senior director of strategic accounts for North America for Carestream Dental. He spent six years in the U S air force and has been in outside sales for 16 years. What I found interesting with Jim’s bio is that he has been involved with DSO since 2008. So that’s really before they were DSO is there were group practices. I don’t think anybody actually called themselves DSOs back then. So you’ve been around for a while and you understand the space really well. So that’ll be helpful as we go through this interview. So Jim actually joined Carestream Dental in 2018 and really with the idea to build out the DSO sales force, so it’ll be interesting to hear what you’ve done there and building out that Salesforce. Jeff, on the other hand, Jeff Telford is the director of product management for Carestream Dentals Cloud Practice Management Solutions. That’s a mouthful. And prior to coming to Carestream Dental in early 2018, Jeff has been in the healthcare software space for 16 years and over the past eight years he’s been focused on emerging technologies mobile in cloud. So again, thanks for joining us. Can you tell us a little bit… Tell the audience a little bit about Carestream Dental?

Jim Conte:
Sure, absolutely. So Carestream dental has been around a hundred years. We are the inventor of the digital sensor, and we are the only company in dental that has a full digital workflow everywhere from practice management software, to the equipment, to the imaging software, and everything in between. So we’re very proud of that.

Bill Neumann:
Well that’s great. Yeah, I mean I know Carestream has been around for quite a while and it seems like you’ve got a real understanding of merging dental groups, the DSO space. I see it a lot at meetings. So tell me a little bit about, you know, what you see as far as what’s going on with the dental market? Why is it changing? Why are we seeing this consolidation on the provider side? So whether it’s DSO’s or emerging groups, what are you seeing as a company? And as you talk to these DSO’s, why do you think this is happening?

Jim Conte:
Sure. I think a lot of the changes in the DSO market have been going on for some time and really what it boils down to is having a larger share of voice. Having an opportunity to have supplies and equipment and benefits that are more consolidated. And for a single practice, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do that on your own without partnering up with someone. So you see every size DSO from emerging to elites and I think it’s really to be able to compete.

Bill Neumann:
Yeah, I would agree. I mean I think you’re seeing a lot of that consolidation for that reason and several others as well. And I think probably because the technology is one too that I’ve heard thrown around a little bit just to kind of to keep up, and you know back in the day you didn’t necessarily need the technologies that you do now, or what the patient or the customer expects.So, let’s talk about pain points. You know, when we say emerging groups, they may have three or four locations all the way up to the large DSOs and have hundreds and hundreds of locations. What are some of the commonalities when it comes to pain points? What are the struggles that you see with your customers?

Jim Conte:
Sure, absolutely. So you know, DSOs and group practices, they want to have consistency in terms of their offices. Sometimes it’s a full on branding consistency. Sometimes it’s more autonomy to each office where it feels more like a neighborhood or home town dental office. But both of those models, they want to have consistency in terms of productivity, the processes that they have in place, the experience that the patient has and when they’re onboarding new doctors and staff, they want that to feel and look the same way. And that is a challenge to do because they’re located in different places. It’s not like a single office where you can walk down the hallway and say this is our protocol. So there’s a lot of things that need to be done offsite and through technology and that’s increasingly what folks are looking for is a way to manage those processes.

Bill Neumann:
Right, right. As they scale up and they move from line of sight management more to technology and metrics management. I think that you’re right on with that as far as struggle. You know they go from a dentist that that can actually be at different locations monitoring things, to not being able to do that and having to rely on technology to really manage the practices. So this actually leads into the next question. So as far as tools go that the DSO is emerging groups, you know all shapes and sizes can use. How do they efficiently manage workflow from a technology standpoint? What are the tools they can use?

Jeff Telford:
I’ll jump in on this one, Bill. I think as Jim mentioned, some of these big pain points, a lot of these pain points are remedied by having a good practice management solution. Something that can scale with them. Something that can grow with them as they’re onboarding more and more offices. Be able to quickly prescribe that new way of managing your practice both in the processes as well as the technologies. At Carestream Dental, we offer our care management platform or CMP, which is our online cloud-based web based practice management solution. And that really helps them to scale so that they don’t have to go and pull data from each of those locations but can actually do that from a centralized place.

Bill Neumann:
Okay, so CMP, care management platform. Tell me a little bit more about what that is and how that works as far as that tool to help.

Jeff Telford:
Sure. So care management platform, CMP, is our a new age platform. It’s our new practice management solution. Again, it is cloud based and web-based, so you can access this environment from anywhere that has an internet connection. But really the benefit of it besides accessibility is to consolidate all of that data and all of those business functions into one place. So with this you can consolidate things like scheduling, or claims management, or have a centralized place to do accounts receivable. Doing this allows those DSOs and large groups to start taking in economies of scale and putting all that in a centralized place. And that leaves the local practices more time to handle their patients, whether it be clinically or just interacting with them in a one on one basis.

Bill Neumann:
All right, well that’s… So CMP is definitely something that… How many locations would you say? I mean, do you… With three locations, at five locations? Is there a point where that makes a lot of sense?

Jeff Telford:
But what’s nice about a CMP is it’s a subscription based solution. So as a SAS solution it is very affordable for small locations or small group practices with only three. But it can scale to handle hundreds of practices under the same system…

Bill Neumann:
That is good to know.

Jeff Telford:
-The business analytics and business intelligence for them to run that business.

Bill Neumann:
So business intelligence, that’s another thing that we really are starting to hear more, I think, at these DSL conferences. And it’s kind of tossed around, I think a lot, and I don’t necessarily know if everybody really truly understands what that means and all it encompasses. So can you give me, give us, give our audience a little bit of background on that means to Carestream Dental?

Jeff Telford:
Sure. I think from a group practice and a DSO perspective, one of the things that people focus on when it comes to business intelligence is just getting the data into a centralized place. So we see a lot of people who are spending more time just moving data, and querying databases, and putting it into spreadsheets. And they spend a lot of time doing that, compiling the data, but not really a lot of time focusing on what data to look at. So what we’ve tried to do is offer real time dashboards that show you at the macro level what the enterprise is doing, but also give that local level to drive best practices into local offices. So going into that data and actually not just running reports and printing them and looking at them and throwing them away, but actually taking action. So, we’ve really developed our workflows to be really data-driven, and when you view that data, you can take action right from there.

Bill Neumann:
That’s really good to know. I mean, I think when you look at creating value at a DSL, whether you’re an emerging group, a lot of it lies in not just the data that they have, because it’s there, but whether they can access it, and how easily they can access it, and when they’re looking to expand and try and get financing, and they need that data in order to justify the valuation. So that becomes super important. So thanks. Thanks for that clarification on business intelligence. I think it’s important for everybody to really understand the not just what it means, but also how important it is to their businesses.

Bill Neumann:
So we’ll move a little bit away from business intelligence and a care management platform. Let’s talk a little bit about DSOs in general. And I think this is sometimes they get painted with a broad brush or they’re all looking to turn a profit, which everybody wants to do in their business of course, but maybe more profit focused. So what should successful DSO emerging group practice do? Really, just beyond looking at turning a profit, making a profit, or how can I do that through patient care? What are your thoughts on that?

Jim Conte:
Sure, absolutely. Obviously everybody wants to be profitable, we get that. But one of the things that the most successful DSOs do at any level is they have a great patient experience, and that patient experience is consistent no matter what office you go to. It feels the same way, they have the same protocols in place, and really it’s about bringing in technology and bringing in the right type of equipment and personnel in order to support our newer patients. And what I mean by that is the patients today that come in, they’ve done plenty of research online. They can pick any place they want to go and they want to know that have the latest technology and that it’s a fun place to go. It’s not a miserable place to be.

Bill Neumann:
Right, right. Yep. Good point. Because there’s that fear factor already, right, with going to the dentist. So they want to go somewhere where they feel like they can, I don’t know if enjoy themselves as the right word, but at least not have that anxiety. A place that they would enjoy visiting again. So as far that idea, the patient experience. So what else, when we talk about back to technology, what should an emerging group, the DSO, look for when they’re looking at technology opportunities. A technology partner, really. What should they do? What questions should they ask? What should they look for in the different organizations out there?

Jim Conte:
Sure, absolutely. So in the DSO space, you’re obviously going to want to have a very robust practice management system. You’re going to want to be able to look at data from anywhere at any of your locations or as a whole. You also want to be able to make everything digital that can be digital. You know, moving away from traditional impressions, having internal scanner, having a true digital workflow. And I think one of the advantages that we have at Carestream Dental is that we have that full digital workflow. So patient comes in. First thing they do, they check into that office. They’re using our practice management software. They go back, sit in the chair, they take an inner row scan. That scan is used for digital imaging. Doctor can decide what they want to do. If they want to mill a crown that day and use one of our million units, they can do that. And it’s a total workflow so you don’t have to go to a bunch of different companies to get everything you need. You can get it all here.

Bill Neumann:
Right. And that makes a lot of sense. I know that you’re talking to especially established DSOs. Systems are super important to them. They want systems, they want to work with one company, they don’t want to work with 20 different companies where things don’t integrate well. So that really makes a lot of sense from a practicality standpoint. And again, we always think about it just how do you create more value in the business. And when you look at DSO as being the system side of things, that support side, that’s where the value is created. It’s that continuity. And Jeff and Jim, I think you both alluded to it earlier, it’s that consistency over each practice where patients come in and there’s that same experience. Whether I went into a location of practice in one town or the other, it should be a very consistent feel.

Jim Conte:
Absolutely. And you can’t always do that if you don’t have the tools in place. You know, you need to be able to look at the processes and when you have real time data like we do with the care management platform, you can see right away why is office A producing more even though they’ve seen more patients than office B. Well office A is doing a lot more implant cases. Little things like that to make tweaks and train your staff and really see what’s the causes behind the numbers, whether they’re good or bad.

Bill Neumann:
So, leads into the next question, which is we see a lot going on. We talked about the growth of DSOs, the consolidation of the industry. And I think there are more and more resources out there now for emerging groups of people that are just starting out trying to figure out those systems. You know, the technologies they may want to use. How to scale. So some of that is a continuing ed opportunities. Some of that are the different group practice DSO specific conferences. It really didn’t exist even four or five years ago. So I think what’s happened is now it’s almost there are so many opportunities out there. What are you seeing as good readings to go to, CE opportunities, the associations?

Jim Conte:
Sure. Absolutely. So you’re absolutely right, there are tons of meetings and it’s tough to know how to prioritize and where to spend time on, certainly for clinicians. And I think, one of the biggest things is that every manufacturer, every dealer, can offer some value in the way of pricing. But what do they offer you in the way of education? Education is so important. It’s that value add that can distinguish yourself as a manufacturer differently from other folks that are out there. One of the biggest things that we’ve done here at Carestream Dental is we have had a annual global oral health summit and we’re doing that a little bit differently this year. Traditionally it’s been for current customers as a user summit where they can learn tips and tricks and really hone their skills at using our software. We’ve changed it this year. We’ve got a fantastic DSO track. Bill, you’ll be speaking there as well.

Bill Neumann:
I’m excited.

Jim Conte:
Yeah, absolutely. We’ve got some folks speaking throughout the industry. We have Dr. Scott Luna from Dental Whale, and we also have some of our sleep partners as sleep becomes more and more of a priority in the dental space. So it’s a great opportunity for education and really to get to know more about Carestream Dental.

Bill Neumann:
So yeah, that is in November and that will be at the Nashville, right, at the Gaylord Opera Land. Which definitely looking forward to. It’s a huge hotel and sometimes the biggest challenge is trying to find your room there. But besides that, just wait, you’re going to have a lot of people at the event. And the DSO track, I think in particular, is going to be really interesting because you’ve got… You also have Dr. Mark Hodges who actually used to work at Heartland Dental, and you have Aziza Abid. And Aziza actually was a founder of a startup DSO, and she’s really interesting. I’ve talked to Aziza before. She’s an RDH, so she’s not a dentist, but she’s started her own DSL in Ohio, so it’s just, it’s really, I think it’ll be for someone that’s looking to learn about how to scale, they want to go to that specific DSO track, they don’t have to just go to that though. Right? There’s more than just the DSO track. You can attend that, but there’s some other things they can see at the event as well from the technology standpoint. Continuing ed.

Jim Conte:
Absolutely. Absolutely. So we have a DSO track, but single practices of course are welcome. It’s a really good education opportunity for everyone. In fact, we have a $50 coupon at carestreamdental.com for attendees that are doing this podcast that can go to carestreamdental.com and get $50 off registration.

Bill Neumann:
And so the code they can use is DSO. So that should be pretty simple, right? That’s a D.S.O. and they’ll say $50. And yeah, I’m excited to speak there. I’m going to be speaking on a couple of different topics. I’m going to talk about global consolidation. What’s happening all over the world as far as dental group practices. And then the other thing I’m going to focus in on is what I call marketing beyond the patient.

Bill Neumann:
So really, how do you market yourself as a DSO to a dentists or nonclinical staff that may want career opportunities with you? How do you market yourself if you’re an emerging group or a DSO to dentists that may want to sell their practices or become an affiliate practice of your DSO? So those are types of things, I think, that they can really use somebody that’s, again, looking to scale or a larger group that just wants to kind of fine tune their skills and see from a technology perspective what you have going on. As well as find out what Scott has to say from Dental Whale. Their experience is vast over there on that side. And you have a couple of different speakers I believe from Dental Whale that’ll be talking. So I think overall it sounds like it’s going to be action packed and I’m really excited. So, again, we’ll actually have a link to this on the video podcast so you can actually find out the URL, which is carestreamdental.com, DSO, if you use code DSO, it’s $50 off. And I’m looking forward to seeing everybody there. Certainly going to see you guys there.

Jim Conte:
Absolutely. We’ll be there.

Jeff Telford:
Absolutely. I’ll be a great time.

Bill Neumann:
Well Hey, I’d like to again thank Jeff Telford and Tim Conte for being on the Group Dentistry Now Show today. It’s been really informative. Thanks for giving us background on the different types of technologies that are out there, what’s going on in the DSO space, and of course the global oral health summit where everybody can join and learn a little bit more about what’s going on with Carestream Dental and what’s going on in the DSO and emerging group practice space. So until next time, I’m your host, Bill Neumann. Thanks again, gentlemen.

Jim Conte:
Thanks.

Jeff Telford:
Thanks Bill.

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