Fact or Fiction
The Myths about Dental Service Organizations and the Truth about Heartland Dental Care
Heartland Dental Care, a leading dental service organization, was founded with the purpose of supporting dentists and giving them the means to succeed. Within the dental industry, however, the conversation on dental service organizations, or DSOs, is charged with controversy. Opponents often believe that these organizations don't allow dentists to focus on patients, control treatment planning or build trusting patient relationships.
So what is fact and what is fiction? While we can't speak for all dental service organizations, we can take a look at some myths about DSOs and shed some light on the truth about Heartland Dental Care.
In the eyes of many, dentists who affiliate with a dental service organization or join an affiliated office can no longer be patient centered. In reality, the advantages offered by dental service organizations help dentists improve their level of patient care tremendously.
"Dentists don't focus on being accountants, HR reps or office managers. They focus on helping patients with their oral health care," said Dr. Shreya Patel, practicing dentist at Prestwick Pointe Family Dental in Avon, Indiana. "HDC affiliation offers dentists the freedom and time to fulfill this desire without the non-clinical duties of running a dental office. They have a fantastic opportunity to treat the needs of their patients."
"Dentists don't focus on being accountants, HR reps or office managers. They focus on helping patients with their oral health care. HDC affiliation offers dentists the freedom and time to fulfill this desire without the non-clinical duties of running a dental office. They have a fantastic opportunity to treat the needs of their patients."
Shreya Patel, DDS,
practicing dentist at Prestwick Pointe Family Dental in Avon, Indiana
Dentists have autonomy: For the most part, dentists strictly concentrate on clinical aspects while attending dental school, but running a dental office isn't limited to clinical care. There are other tasks to attend to, including accounting, paying bills, marketing and obtaining the best cost effective supplies. When dentists affiliate with HDC, these non-clinical matters are handled by a team of knowledgeable professionals. This frees up dentists to concentrate on patient care, instead of dedicating several days each week to paperwork. With more time for their true passion their patients dentists have the opportunity to impact the overall health of their patients like never before.
Dentists can receive education in leadership skills and patient communication: While dental schools stick to the clinical side of dentistry, they don't often teach how dentists can be effective communicators and leaders. Clinical dentistry is only one facet of optimal patient care, and dentists who don't communicate effectively will ultimately hinder their careers. With the educational opportunities made available by HDC, dentists have the chance to become well-rounded clinicians and communicators, which results in better overall patient satisfaction.
Dentists are encouraged to build trusting relationships with patients: Most dentists choose a career in dentistry because they want to create lasting relationships with patients and make a positive impact on their lives. They enjoy helping others improve their health, quality of life and self-esteem. Dental service organizations can't take this away from dentists; at HDC, we encourage it. Dentists still have the ability to develop rewarding connections with their patients, and they're offered every possible resource to help them do this.
In the discussion about dental service organizations, the issue of control is a hot topic. Many wonder, Will I be told how to treat my patients? Will I be told how to treatment plan? Will I be regulated on what materials I use? At HDC, dentists are still the leaders of their practices; they make the clinical decisions in their offices.
Dr. Adam Link, practicing dentist at Effingham Dental Group in Effingham, Illinois, has experienced the independence HDC provides dentists. "In addition to the added time for patients that HDC dentists have, we're encouraged to treat patients according to our treatment philosophy," said Dr. Link. "HDC isn't about taking away choices from dentists; instead, we're offered more choices. We're supported with the tools and resources needed to provide first-rate patient care."
Dentists, not dental service organizations, treat patients: Since the beginning of modern dentistry, dentists have been the leaders and decision-makers of their practices. Many opponents of dental service organizations worry that the organizations are constantly looking over the dentists' shoulders, controlling how patients are treated. But at HDC, dentists have the same level of control over treatment planning as they would in their own private practice. HDC offers practice improvement strategies to increase efficiency. Many dentists have seen these as great opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Dentists have a wide variety of choices in supplies and materials: Some fear that with a dental service organization, they can't choose specific supplies and instruments. Dentists at HDC actually have access to a wider variety of materials of their choosing. They also have the benefit of large-scale research. Heartland Dental Care advocates for dentists, researching new materials and tools to find out what fits office needs. Additionally, dentists with dental service organizations enjoy negotiated vendor pricing (usually around 30 percent off the normal cost), which translates into cost savings on the supplies they already use.
Dentists do have a say in the hiring of their team members: As with dental supplies, there is a misconception that dentists in a dental service organization office have no control over what team members are hired. But with HDC-supported offices, dentists play a large role in determining whether team member candidates are the right fit. Heartland Dental Care recognizes that when dentists and their team members communicate well and trust each other, they can provide optimal patient care. Dentists are encouraged to be fully involved when hiring hygienists, business assistants, dental assistants and other key office staff.
There's a stigma attached to dental service organizations. People are afraid offices will provide cold, "assembly line" service and pay no attention to developing patient relationships. But with HDC offices, team members do care. They take great pride in their level of care and the relationships they build with their patients.
"The team members at HDC affiliated offices are some of the most dedicated, helpful people you will ever meet; they truly want to serve patients the best way they can," said Dr. Workman. "This is not an accident. HDC strives to hire optimistic, flexible individuals who have a patient-first mentality."
"In addition to the added time for patients that HDC dentists have, we're encouraged to treat patients according to our treatment philosophy. HDC isn't about taking away choices from dentists; instead, we're offered more choices. We're supported with the tools and resources needed to provide first-rate patient care."
Adam Link, DMD,
practicing dentist at Effingham Dental Group in Effingham, Illinois
Highly trained, caring, motivated individuals are hired: At HDC, team members are hired based on the Perfect Fit Selection Process. This involves considering individuals who are not only highly trained and knowledgeable, but respectful and motivated to help others. This means that hired team members have an excellent balance of both clinical and relationship-building skills. Because dentists are involved in the process, they are on the look-out for like-minded, compassionate staff members as well. So when patients visit an HDC office, they can expect to be treated with respect, compassion and efficiency every time. In addition, HDC offices each have their own local, hometown identity with close ties to their community.
Like dentists, team members are offered continuing education to build upon their skills: Dentists aren't the only ones who can benefit from continuing education at Heartland Dental Care; team members can also advance their communication and leadership skills. With enhanced communication skills and a better understanding of their patients, these team members can become even more invested in patient well-being and provide the best dental experiences possible for them. In order to help team members develop, HDC strongly encourages each individual to set annual personal and professional goals.
More structure means more efficient AND less stressful care: At HDC, dental teams are structured in a manner that benefits both team members and patients. Each role in the dental office has specific duties, so that patients are served well and nothing is missed. These roles don't operate independently of one another; instead, an attitude of growth, learning and loyalty through teamwork is always present in HDC offices. Each team works collectively with one goal in mind: doing what's best for patients.
HDC's mission is to support dentists around the country, to alleviate their non-clinical worries and offer them the chance to grow continually as dentists. In reality, dentists who have more time for their patients, as well as the advantage of fully developing their skills, will expand their quality of care.
HDC looks forward to supporting even more offices in the future. No matter what other myths about dental service organizations pop up, HDC will hold true to our goal: helping dentists help patients.