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31 Jan 2018 | Australasian Dental Practice

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Corporate groups open Association of Dental Support Organizations in ANZ

Five of Australia and New Zealand's largest corporate dental groups have become the inaugural members of the new ANZ chapter of the Association of Dental Support Organizations.


Despite being competitors, 1300-SMILES Limited; Maven Dental Group/Lumino The Dentists; National Dental Care; Pacific Smiles Group Limited; and Primary Dental, have recognised the importance of having an industry association that provides real information to the profession about what are known internationally as Dental Support Organisations (DSOs) and the benefits they offer to dental practitioners and their patients.

The Association of Dental Support Organizations (ADSO) is a not-for-profit global trade association whose 48 member companies support more than 13,000 dentists worldwide. ADSO supports its members through research, education and advocacy, enabling them to foster innovation, collaboration and a vibrant market where DSO-supported dentists can provide quality oral health care.

Gordon Towell, CEO of National Dental Care, said the need for ADSO (ANZ) should be viewed in the context of a fast changing industry. "The dental industry in Australia is arguably going through the most profound and rapid change in its history, driven by a combination of new technology and patient/consumer behaviour. Through the establishment of a local ANZ chapter of ADSO, we hope to educate dentists about what a DSO is and how it may be the right option for them if they prefer clinical care to business and administrative tasks.

Dr Daryl Holmes, Managing Director of 1300SMILES, said that "DSOs provide high quality management and support services to dentists in fully serviced facilities. The administrative support services we provide allows dentists to focus on their patients, expand access to quality dental care and improve the oral health of their communities."

Values-based growth and development

ADSO was originally formed in the United States by a like-minded group of American practice owners to advance their stand on quality standards, ethical business practices, regulatory compliance and reform and to provide consistent industry messaging. To become a DSO member, the organisation must meet the requirements which include operating a minimum of 15 dental locations. More importantly, member DSOs are committed to ADSO's Code of Ethics - a priority that emphasises professionalism and excellence.

According to John Gibbs, Managing Director of Pacific Smiles, "Every member DSO must focus on the needs of dentists and patients by acting with integrity, ensuring clinical autonomy for dentists, employing motivated and caring staff and using proven methods to deliver effective business support. It's also important to note the DSO model doesn't necessarily suit all practitioners and we respect that."

With clinical autonomy, DSO-supported dentists can focus on good clinical outcomes and not have to worry about the non-clinical tasks associated with running a facility.

Benefits for dentists

Independent dentists that practice from DSO-supported facilities can access an array of tangible benefits:

  • Outsourced administrative and other non-clinical tasks;
  • A walk-in-walk-out practice without taking admin work home;
  • Choice of locations and agreed work days and hours;
  • Opportunity to maximise income by devoting working days to clinical care;
  • Well-trained support staff; and
  • Dentist mentorship programs and education resources, including CPD points.

Not all the benefits are targeted at the individual, but also extend to the dental profession at large. This is evident in the areas of continuing education and public safety. DSOs operate to best practice guidelines and adhere to regulations to ensure safe practice environments for staff, dentists and patients.

On this point, Michelle Aquilina, CEO of Primary Dental said, "DSOs have the bandwidth and scale to support dentists with their continued education and training, which can be achieved through strong key stakeholder relationships. In some DSOs, there are mentorship programs for young professionals entering into the dental industry directly out of university. This, we believe, is essential in supporting the young professionals of our industry."

DSO-supported dentists are given full clinical autonomy without the imposition of employee-style work restrictions. Dentists make their own clinical decisions without corporate interference. ADSO (ANZ) member organisations do not permit treatment targets or quotas, despite misinformation in the industry to the contrary.

Andy Tapper, CEO of Maven Dental Group and Lumino the Dentists, said "The term 'corporate dentistry' has a negative connotation that does not represent the ideals and aspirations of DSOs. We are basically professional organisations providing serviced dental facilities to independent dentists who deliver quality care to the community. Our strong governance structures and professional management teams are there to support dentists and patients."

ADSO (ANZ) members operate independently from one another and do not interact on commercial matters, as is the arrangement in any trade association. They have launched ADSO (ANZ) to inform and educate the dental services market about the benefits and options that they offer dentists and the industry in Australia and New Zealand.

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