A Correlation Between Dental Support Organizations and Pharmacies

Female pharmacist advising by the phone call

The biggest misconceptions I most often hear about Dental Support Organizations (DSOs) are that the quality of care being provided to the patient is inadequate and they don’t provide much value to doctors beyond being a good first step into dentistry. These stigmas are often originated by individuals who have never worked a day in a DSO, which I find interesting, because how would they know!? In fact, it makes me wonder where these individuals are buying their “drugs.”

It wasn’t that long ago that every town had a neighborhood pharmacist. These pharmacists went to school to learn their trade, graduated with very little, if any, debt, hung a shingle and began doing business as your favorite neighborhood pharmacist. Today, that “mom & pop” pharmacy has been replaced in most cases by your local CVS, Walgreens/Duane Reade/Rite-Aid, & Walmart… or whatever grocery chain you visit. The reason this happened is simple: The benefit to the public greatly outweighed the negative!

As lives began to change and women began entering the workforce in greater numbers and households evolved from single income to dual income, the need for accessibility, efficiency and convenience increased. These became the primary measures of quality for the consumer…so having a 24 hour pharmacy down the street became increasingly more important to the consumer and created an impossible challenge for the mom & pop pharmacy to meet. Fueling the growth even more was the fact that the costs associated with starting or buying one’s own pharmacy increased along with the cost of education. Students accumulated vast amounts of debt and it became harder to afford to build or buy an independent pharmacy. (Sound familiar?) Corporate pharmacy provided the young pharmacist a low cost, high value point of entry. They could practice their professional trade with greater flexibility, richer benefits and more balance between work and home life. A pharmacist could now focus on what they do best and not feel burdened with the day-to-day business operations. This provided a path for long term satisfaction.

When you look at the evolution of pharmacy it reminds us a great deal of what is happening in the dental industry. In fact, I bet in late 50s & early 60s when branded and group pharmacy was still in its early stages, there was an outcry from independent pharmacists much like you see today from “mom & pop” dentists with the advent of DSOs. This may just be a hunch, but my guess is the result will be very similar since the benefits of DSOs greatly outweigh the negative for both patients and the dentists. In fact, many of those dental offices supported by DSOs provide an economical path to practice ownership and encourage doctors to pursue continuing education; even reimbursing the cost of those CEs. So the next time you hear someone bashing the DSO concept, take it with a grain of salt and ask yourself, ”Where do they buy their ‘drugs’?”

Written by Roger Smith
Roger Smith is a seasoned recruiting professional with experience in Food Manufacturing, Civil Engineering and Healthcare industries. He has worked closely with many Fortune 500 companies on talent acquisition initiatives; assisting them in identifying/evaluating talent, contract negotiations and the successful hiring of senior management & executive level talent. He has held leadership positions within 2 of the largest Dental Support Organizations in the country and is currently a Talent Acquisition Team Leader for Aspen Dental Management, Inc. This article was originally published on Doccupations.

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