The Group Dentistry Now Show: The Voice Of The DSO Industry – Episode 164

adso podcast

Andrew Smith, CEO of the Association of Dental Support Organizations (ADSO) joins the show once again to discuss the upcoming 13th annual ADSO Summit, Dentistry’s Main Event. The event takes place in Aurora, CO, June 12-15 at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center.

Andrew shares:

  • What not to miss at the ADSO Summit
  • Who should attend?
  • What is the ADSO focusing on in 2024?
  • Much more

To find out more about the ADSO Summit visit – You can reach Andrew Smith via email here –

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Full Transcript:

Bill Neumann: Welcome everyone to the Group Dentistry Now show. I’m Bill Neumann. And as always, we appreciate you listening in or watching us on YouTube, or you might be watching us on Have a really important conversation with Andrew Smith, who is the CEO of the ADSO, the Association of Dental Support Organizations. We’ve had Andrew on a bunch of times now and we always have great conversations. We have, I believe it is the 13th annual ADSO Summit coming up shortly. So first off, Andrew, thanks for being back on the show again. Good to see you.

Andrew Smith : Good to see you too. Thanks for having me. I’m excited for our conversation.

Bill Neumann: Yeah. Yeah. You always have so many interesting things going on, a lot going on at your events. So the idea of of this conversation is to really go over some of the highlights, things that are important for all the different stakeholders. Whether you’re a DSO, emerging group, a solo practitioner, a dean at a dental school, a dentist, a dental student, it seems like you have something for everyone this year. We’re going to dive into that. First off, for the people that maybe haven’t seen you or heard from you on previous podcasts, a little bit about your background and your role at the ADSO.

Andrew Smith : Yeah, no, thanks, Bill. Again, as Bill mentioned, I’m Andrew Smith, the CEO of ADSO. This is my third year running the organization. A lot of exciting things happening in the DSO space and certainly ADSO, excuse me, we pride ourselves on kind of being at the front and center of all of that, really advocating for the industry on numerous different types of topics. So whether it be government affairs advocacy, working with policymakers and really advancing Not just DSOs, of course, but the whole health care, oral health care industry is of a central focus. And then as it relates to the ADSO Summit, really focusing in on our members and what they’re seeing within the industry. And really a great opportunity. We do quite a bit of things outside of events. In addition, study clubs, networking, best practices, a lot of run the gamut, if you will, for advancing oral health. And, you know, just quickly, my background. I’m a recovering DC Politico, worked in and out of government for numerous years, worked as a lobbyist in Washington, DC, representing companies at the state and federal level, had worked with numerous trade and advocacy associations, but never worked for one directly. And so when the time came and met with many of our executive committee members, I was really fascinated with their entrepreneurial spirit and how they were advancing oral health care. And that would be a great opportunity to jump in and continue to propel oral health forward. So that is kind of how I came to ADSO and a little about what we’re focused on.

Bill Neumann: Thanks, Andrew. So the summit is coming up quickly, June 12th through the 15th in Aurora, Colorado, which is outside of Denver near the airport and at a great hotel, the Gaylord. Talk a little bit about some, and also I think I might have failed to mention this, dentistry’s main event. So we talked about really all the different stakeholders. And again, I really think we want to make sure that people that haven’t been to an ADSO meeting or maybe have an impression of the ADSO meeting where it’s for just the large DSOs, it’s really not the case. And there’s something for everyone at this event. So June 12th through the 15th, dentistry’s main event. What do you really want to highlight about this event that’s coming up this year?

Andrew Smith : Yeah. No, thanks, Bill. You hit the nail on the head. We really see this event as a forum for all things dentistry and the future of dentistry. And so the content was put together by DSO CEOs for DSO CEOs. But as you mentioned, it’s not just for the CEO leadership of dental support organizations. but also to their C-suite members, to department leads, to dental schools, to students. I think when we had chatted a little while ago as well, we had mentioned that for the first time we’re actually bringing dental students to the summit to continue to hear about what they and their needs are for the future of practicing in dentistry, as well as kind of having them see all the things about DSOs and what’s going on. We’ve got, as you’ve mentioned, we’ve got main stage content, very broad thought leadership, but we also have individual breakout groups on a whole host of different topics. So whether it be finance, IT, operations, marketing, HR, we will be having a dinner with many dental school deans and many of the leaders within the industry to continue that conversation about workforce. And then of course, we have many of our industry partners who are servicing the oral health care sector and really bringing those groups together to talk about what our members are doing in this space and how the industry is evolving. So that’s kind of a very broad overview, but really excited about all the different stakeholders that are coming.

Bill Neumann: And I want to kind of go through the agenda a little bit and make sure that people understand what each day has to offer, because there is a lot going on and you don’t want to get out there and miss anything. And I think planning is essential because, again, there is quite a bit going on and you want to make sure you attend the sessions. make sense for you and your team. Also, from a vendor perspective, I think there are still some opportunities available if people want to grab a table or a booth.

Andrew Smith : Yes, absolutely. No, I thank you for that. Yes. So there is some room still for those that are looking to exhibit. Also, registration is open all the way until the day of. Definitely make sure to register before. But we’re not going to turn you away if you want to come to the event. But there’s a great opportunity for those that on the industry partner side that are looking to come definitely are open. And I think this year what’s really great is that there’s seamless transition between the main stage featured stage and our solution center of what we’re calling it, where those folks are exhibiting. We got a ton of opportunity in there. What I’m really excited about this year is the Dental Innovation Alliance is going to be sponsoring a technology playground and bringing all of the technologies, the newest technologies that are servicing the industry in oral health together. So definitely, definitely you don’t want to miss that.

Bill Neumann: That’s new for this year and that should be really exciting. They have a lot of interesting technology partners that they’ll have there. And one other thing too, you may want to make sure that you book that hotel because you don’t want to be offsite having to come over to the Gaylord. I would say stay there. I know that they’ve also opened up. I know a lot of people in the past maybe have been to other dental conferences at the Gaylord. I think they’ve just gone through a pretty big renovation there. So I think there’s more opportunities to eat on site and they’ve created a lot more networking areas as well. So I’m pretty excited about what the makeover looks like.

Andrew Smith : Absolutely, 100% agree. We’ll kind of get that first reveal in a couple of weeks, which is great. And I think this year’s event, which is really nice, is that everything is on site. So all of the content, all the networking opportunities, all of the cocktail receptions, dinners, everything is on site. And so I’m really excited that it’s not just great content and substance for our attendees, for all stakeholders, but also a lot of fun and a lot of opportunity to be there. So, it’s kind of a one-shot, you can hit everything at once.

Bill Neumann: Yeah, that is great. I know with your event being as large as it is, sometimes it’s hard to manage it logistically with certain hotels. So, I think the Gaylord really lends itself well to a conference the size of the ADSOs. So, first day, June 12th, looks like you’ve got some sessions, starts sometime around 11 a.m. It looks like Align Tech has an innovation day. There’s the registration going on throughout the day. ADSO, your DSO members have government affairs committee meetings going on. And then it looks like there are quite a few sessions that have really different focuses. One on clinical leadership. There’s a marketing session. There’s operations, workforce, finance. There’s quite a bit going on on that first day. And then it looks like there’s some invite only, and then talk a little bit about there’s a wellness welcome lounge, and that’s sponsored by Henry Schein, and that’s really for networking.

Andrew Smith : Yes, yes. So on the first day, we’ve got a lot of great opportunities. You know, like you mentioned, Align is hosting an innovation day that is really kind of showcasing all of the technologies they’re utilizing and how they’re partnering with DSOs. You mentioned we have a ton of breakout sessions on numerous topics that are very important to all stakeholders. Check that out in the afternoon. We have, you know, kind of some 80 or so internal business to do in the afternoon with our executive committee, really kind of setting the stage of where we’re going over the next three years. We have a new strategic plan that we’ll be kind of talking about broadly at the meeting and the executive committee will be meeting there that you mentioned The Welcome Lounge, which is sponsored by our title sponsor, Henry Schein. Again, this will be a great opportunity for networking and really kind of setting the stage of what this meeting and what we’ll be focused on moving forward in the next couple of days at the meeting. So a great opportunity to catch up with everybody, see people, and kind of learn about what the event has in store.

Bill Neumann: And then you also mentioned earlier that you have a lot of dental school deans that are attending this event as well. And so there’s a networking dinner with DSOs and those dental school deans as well, which I’m sure would be You know, just just great from a recruitment standpoint, kind of find out what the deans are thinking, what the dental students are thinking. And then I think you had mentioned that there are dental students that that will be the kind of there’s a there’s a session just for them. And we will discuss that because it’s a little later on in the event next day, June 13th. is really when things get kicked off for everybody. Looks like there’s a couple of things going on in the morning, couple invite only things, whether it’s your board meeting, and we shine as a breakfast and a workshop. There’s a dental dean’s breakfast, so the dental deans are definitely getting a lot of time there. And then there’s the opening session with you and Dr. Baramian, and I’m sure you’re gonna kind of kick things off there. And then keynote speaker right after that, Terrell Davis. Want to talk about Terrell at all and what he has to say?

Andrew Smith : Yeah, absolutely. We had a great opportunity to have a Denver Bronco legend in Terrell Davis join us and come and talk a lot about leadership. And one of our fellow executive committee members and one of the founders of ADSO, Steve Bilt, who’s the CEO of Smile Brands that people know are going to be in a conversation talking about leadership that is applicable in all aspects, not just sports and business, but a whole host of things. And for those that have seen Steve Bill coordinate and speak before with a keynote, it’s really exciting. So we really thought it would be good to have a conversation. So we’ve got that kicking off in the morning after we get everything moving, and then we’re going to move into the formal program after that.

Bill Neumann: Yeah. And this one’s going to be really interesting. CEO’s unscripted. You have Dr. Ahmed. Is he going to be the moderator for this? How’s that? Yes.

Andrew Smith : Yes. Yes. So Dr. Ahmed, like Steve Bill, is really great on facilitating conversations. And he’s been such a leader as a next generation DSO CEO, but also a clinician and has really built his business and has done a phenomenal job and really going to be talking with the innovators and leaders of the industry from Steve Bill at Smile, Bob Botan at Aspen, Steve Thorne at PDS, and Dr. Workman from Heartland. And what we had done historically even prior to me joining ADSO was we would have these individual leaders speak about what they are individually been focused on. But what we really wanted to do was kind of get them together and talk about topics that maybe they haven’t really shared before, kind of And that’s why we’re calling it unscripted. In fact, I have let Dr. Med plan all of this on his own and really thinking through. So I think it’ll be really a good conversation for what many of our DSO leaders and attendees want to hear from these CEOs and really learning and kind of a better understanding of where the industry is going and just and just really kind of going back to our roots on that networking opportunity and what they can take away in a knowledge perspective. So it’s going to be a little different. I don’t want to give away any state secrets, of course, so stay tuned. It’ll be pretty fun.

Bill Neumann: Yeah, that one is going to be exciting for sure. I’ve seen Dr. Ahmed and Steve and Bob Fontana and some of the others that you’ve had on there, so it’s going to be Yeah, it’d be a great conversation. And I like the fact that it’s unscripted. So hopefully there are a couple of zingers in there that maybe these CEOs aren’t aren’t expecting. That would be great. You’ve got awards coming up after that. And then you had mentioned it earlier, the Innovation Playground. kickoff with Dental Innovation Alliance. So that is another one that is new for your event, for sure. And I think there’s going to be a lot of excitement around that. And it looks like you’ve got, and the nice thing about this is you have some of your vendor partners with DSOs, it looks like, that are kind of coming up on stage and talking about solutions that the DSOs are using right now, and relatively short, bite-sized, but impactful sessions. It looks like anywhere from about 15 minutes to about half an hour long. So talk a little bit through how that’s going to

Andrew Smith : Yeah, so I think what we have always found is that it’s really important to bring together our industry partners together with our DSO members to talk about the solutions that the partners offer and how our DSOs are utilizing them, because we really feel that that gives value to those attending to say, okay, have you tried this? Have you tried that? And kind of putting it together. And these are topics that are very front of mind to many of our members about how they’re growing their businesses, how they’re making them more efficient, how they’re delivering greater patient care. And we wanted to make them much more of an engaging conversation and showcasing that as opposed to just kind of broadly, you know, just talking about what the partner has to offer. So really kind of bringing in on both ends. And again, we think that those 20 to 30 minute, uh, conversations are long enough to help facilitate that, which then we’ll go into and building on those breakout sessions that we had the day before, and then leading into the next day, which we’ll talk about two of those specific, um, uh, departments, if you will.

Bill Neumann: And then you wrap things up, there is a Ski Wonderland networking event sponsored by Sunbit, and that should be really exciting as well. Not too much skiing, I guess, in June and in Denver, but we can see the mountains certainly from the hotel.

Andrew Smith : Exactly. So again, it’s another really good opportunity to have taking all the content we’ve talked about today and having a cocktail and then facilitating conversation. And it’ll be a very fun party. So you got to have a little fun at these meetings to back up all the great content and substance.

Bill Neumann: And the networking pieces is so important. The content is certainly important, but I think equally is that networking opportunity to get to talk to people that you know, and the ones that maybe that you don’t, but you want to get to know. So I think that that’s great that you have so many networking opportunities. So next morning, June 14th, we get things kicked off and it looks like we’ve got a lot of, again, we’re kind of looking at breakout sessions, right? So we’ve got clinical leadership. I see a lot of talk around, a lot of sessions around AI and automation, AI and social media. And then patient financing, for sure. There is talent strategy. You have somebody from Bell Leadership Institute. That’ll be really interesting. I’ve heard some sessions in the past from Bell, and they’re always impactful. So maybe talk a little bit about how the next morning’s going to kind of shake out.

Andrew Smith : Yeah, no, I think you hit the nail on the head, Bill. I mean, I think a lot of this is building on what we talked about and, you know, kind of the day one on the 12th, and then the broader thought leadership on the 13th. And then on the morning, the 14th, we’ll get into these specific study clubs. And I think for people to know is that, you know, the summit is a great forum where we have and bring everybody together in one location and talk about all of these issues. But then we build on these topics throughout the year. So we got member programming, that will take these individual study club topics that we talk about at the event and then kind of continue on throughout the rest of the year. So really it gives our members the opportunity to go in and focus on issues that they want to talk about, talking with partners they’re working on, and then we move into kind of some broader for issues that ADSO is working on, such as the legislative and regulatory landscape and what ADSO is doing to propel our members’ growth, whether it be on the revenue side of things, as well as getting the workforce to where they need on licensure portability, and, you know, kind of moving through all that. And again, it’s something that we see as the core value for ADSO and its members, so we want to make sure we highlight that after our specific study groups.

Bill Neumann: as I look through, I mean, just jam-packed with great topics. So, and then it looks like the Innovation Playground continues, but it’s more focused. So, it looks like you’ve got demos from Curement and Uptime Health and some of the other, Denonostics. So, it looks like there’s maybe 15 minutes each session for those DIA companies. And again, they’re all very technology focused, so that should be really interesting to see. Later on in the day, I see RCM conversation going on, a lot of talk around, see a couple of sessions here on legal issues. I saw you mentioned it earlier, the one on regulatory and legislative opportunities. That’ll be important for sure. So anything else you want to mention? Because I know then kind of wrap things up to see a lot more of the innovation playground throughout the day. Anything else? I know there’s another networking event towards the end. A couple of them.

Andrew Smith : Yeah, no, I think, again, our focus has been really to kind of highlight on the tech side, you know, unique technologies that are really shaping the future and kind of getting a real quick understanding of that. And then, like you mentioned, in addition to the regulatory conversation, we’re going to be having conversations that are front of mind, you know, relating to RCM, some of the legal issues. We’ve got great folks from Dykema, Brian Clay will be presenting. I definitely know those from Highland and Knight and then David Slazak, who’s one of our leaders from one of our member companies, Affordable Care. And I think the other aspect too, is we’re going to be talking a little about the future of investment in this space, where things are going, what does the future have to hold? How do you continue to differentiate your dental model from others and where things are really, really going? And then like you mentioned, we’ve got a happy hour at the end of the day, followed by Align is sponsoring a great closeout. reception where it’ll be, again, another great opportunity to enjoy people’s company and to kind of talk about where are we going next and all of those aspects.

Bill Neumann: And then last thing I’ll just mention is that that next morning, that June 15th, There is that we had touched on it earlier. There is a dental student program. It’s invite only, but that that’s in the morning of the 15th. So it looks like it’s really there’s a heck of a balance between networking and really impactful content. I think this is going to be one of the more memorable ADSL events. Really, people that haven’t registered for it, I would highly encourage to do to do so and make sure You can do that by, it’s simple. You go to the, so the, and you can’t miss the registration. I think it’s like the first thing that pops up there. You can also go to our website, go to Group Dentistry Now, go to our events tab, and it’ll be the first one that pops up there. And you can register now. Again, Andrew mentioned it. If you are a vendor, there’s still a couple opportunities left for you and industry partner that is. And then, you know, make sure you stay at the Gaylord and don’t do anything offsite because you’re going to miss out on, I think on the networking really is why it’s so beneficial to stay on site.

Andrew Smith : Absolutely. And there’s so much going on. And again, like you mentioned, I think what we’re really excited about is that there’s something for everyone. And it’s really kind of the key focus of what ADSO is trying to achieve is bring all the stakeholders together, have the, you know, kind of be the forum and the event around the event. And everybody that’s involved in dental will have a quite a bit of opportunity to learn on stuff that they may not know, or obviously that they know and can be an expert and share on. So it’s gonna be a great event yet. I think we’ve got about 1,800 people coming, which will be our largest event. And just, I’m really excited about the continued momentum of all things oral health, and particularly where DSOs are going. I think, Bill, you know this, about 40% of dental students that graduate are now going into a DSO, and that’s why we found it so important to have students and as well as dental school leaders come to this because obviously they’re such a stakeholder in that. And, you know, the future is very, very bright for oral health. I just actually got back from Washington, D.C. We had numerous members of ours in Washington meeting with legislators and other stakeholders. and really continue to kind of just educate them about where the industry is going. You know, what we’re working on, I will say that we’ve got tremendous dental industry stakeholders joining us. So representatives from the ADA will be there, ADHA, just to name a few. But those that are really shaping the future will be at this meeting. So it’s not just about DSOs, but it’s about the full industry. And we’re obviously committed to that and are really excited about that for all attendees to witness and experience.

Bill Neumann: So again, gave you the URL, again, the website. So that’ll be in the show notes. And then, Andrew, if anybody has any specific questions, there may be some things that come up about who should who should attend the event. And like you kind of mentioned, there’s something for everybody. So if you don’t have to be the CEO of a DSO, there’s something for an office manager, regional manager, operations, on the finance side, you name it. But if there are some questions either from the vendors or maybe some DSOs, is there an email address? How can they reach out?

Andrew Smith : Yeah, just, you know, honestly, probably the easiest is just shoot me a note, asmith at and I can connect you to our events team or other folks that are attending. I welcome any and all questions, comments, feedback, concerns, just shoot them over to me and I can get you, either I can answer them or I’ll get them over to the appropriate team member to help get an answer.

Bill Neumann: And we’ll put Andrew’s email address in the show notes as well. Andrew, we’ve got a couple of minutes left. So maybe we talked a lot about, we talked mostly about the summit, but ADSO is so much more than the summit. So what other initiatives, what are you working on right now? You mentioned you were just in DC, but what’s going on at the ADSO that we should know about?

Andrew Smith : Yeah. I mean, I think, as I mentioned, a core mission of ours is advocacy and working with all stakeholders. I mentioned ADA, ADHA. So, we’re very, very focused on continuing to propel the industry forward through public policy. So having conversations with dental insurers about continuing to get more patients into care and utilizing their benefits and delivering great patient care, making sure that the workforce can move more freely to where there are dental shortage areas, so licensure portability. But then also really thinking through, how do we advance the future workforce? So I’m talking about students, right? And it’s not just dental students, but it’s the full office. So how are we encouraging more folks to enter into oral health care? So particularly on the dental assistant side, we obviously need those individuals to deliver great patient care. And how do we work with those segment of the population that are interested in becoming a dental assistant and or even a hygienist? How can we help with our stakeholders promote all of that? I think you’re going to see that’s a huge impact. I think you’re also going to see continue to enhance programming for our members. I think that’s why this summit is so focused on best practices, networking, collaboration, bringing technologies together so people can learn and grow. But I think you’re going to see ADSO really continue to go narrow and deep on membership programming and what’s the most important issues of the day for them and really building out. We’re going to be launching a new program called CEO Straight Talks. That’s going to be for our members where it’s bringing together CEOs and team leaders, you know, to really talk about best practices, kind of build on that CEO unscripted conversation. We’re going to have that launched in the fall, which will be really, really exciting and, you know, continuing to really just have us working with all the stakeholders to propel the industry forward. I think that’s kind of what we’re what we’re really

Bill Neumann: Well, that’s great, Andrew. I appreciate your time. I think this was a great conversation. We’ll talk about it later because it’s coming up in December, but you do have one more event that’ll be coming up. It’s called Next Level, December 3rd and 4th. I believe it’s in Austin, Texas. So we’ll save the next pod conversation for that, but put it on your calendars. It’s a great event too. That is more for those mid-market, the smaller groups.

Andrew Smith : Yeah, I think that’s one thing that’s really important that folks don’t realize is there are about 2,500 DSOs or however you want to kind of categorize the term DSO, right? And, you know, it’s essentially having that business side supporting the dentist. There are about 2,500 groups. The vast, vast majority are those that have, you know, anywhere from six offices to 40 offices. And it’s a huge fast growing aspect. And it always amazes me how how quickly and how large the industry has grown because there’s such a need to deliver great patient care. And so that next level event is so important because it’s really bringing together the next leaders of the industry and talking about their needs and how they grow. And so I think you’re going to see ADSO really focus and grow our involvement within that membership category. And this is a great event. It’s going to be our second one. We’re going to really continue to launch on that. So I look forward to discussing more with you as we get some more of the curriculum built out and have all that. So I think that’s the biggest thing to know is that ADSO is not just focused on those that have been around for a long time and are larger, but there’s such a segment there that is growing fast and that we’re having great programming and are continuing to develop that for them and with them.

Bill Neumann: Well, Andrew and I look forward to seeing everybody soon, June 12th through the 15th in Aurora, Colorado, Gaylord, for the 13th Annual ADSO Summit. Again, any questions, we’ll drop the URL and also Andrew’s email address in the show notes. And thanks again, Andrew. Until next time, I’m Bill Neumann, and this is the Group Dentistry Now Show. Appreciate you watching us today.

Andrew Smith : Thank you so much, Bill. Looking forward to seeing everybody in a couple of weeks.