Basic Challenges to DSO Practice Growth Still Need to Be Addressed in 2021

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Key Challenges of Old Will Be Present In 2021
There was a great article published by the American Dental Congress of Georgia in 2018 that summed up the top challenges of dental practices. These pain points are ones that will follow group practices into 2021. The article, in simple terms, states that the key pain points of a practice are acquiring new patients, increasing revenue, and acquiring specialized equipment and technology (link to article). However, you can synthesize these pain points further really into two; acquiring new patients and increasing revenue. If a practice can address these two pain points effectively, then they will generate the revenue to invest in new equipment and technology. These typical and persistent practice pain points can suppress a DSO’s opportunity for production revenue expansion.

Acquiring New Patients
The main artery or lifeblood to a practice’s health is acquisitions of new patients. A healthy practice should target an active base of at least 1,500 patients. Patient attrition can be multiple faceted. About 9.8% of households move annually, which presents a risk to a practice no matter how good the practice may be. In total, a typical practice sees about 15% attrition annually due to moving, patients leaving, and patients passing away. Therefore, a practice must continually leverage several opportunities to drive patient acquisition. With the prominence of social media, a practice should have a consistent presence on social media. 70% of the population of the United States engages in social media. Social media growth continues and is expected to grow 5-6% in 2021. A practice must be advertising on social media within their community to drive new patient acquisitions. A solution such as the Smile Discovery Program®, can provide a practice with opportunities to gain access to a relevant population in their community or MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area). Any solution should be able to present a proposition that allows the practice to quickly create a social media ad that presents the practice well, gets the ad into market quickly, and provides access to daily, weekly, and monthly reporting on results. A social media advertising solution should take the burden from the practice. It should provide 2-15 well qualified leads per month. One new patient can lead to an average of $700 in new annual production revenue. Adding esthetic case conversions can yield exponentially higher treatment fees.

Increasing Revenue – Case Conversion
Treatment acceptance is the other lifeblood to a practice’s health. If a practice cannot convert treatment plans into acceptance, then the investment in the patient acquisition and staff time presenting treatment plans have no or little return. The practice does not have access to comprehensive dentistry and can be limited to crown and bridge procedures. This can be the difference between a sub $1MM practice and a practice that generates well over $1MM in production revenue. Most importantly, in rejecting treatment plans, patients leave the practice with unattended oral health. Generally, a treatment plan is accepted when the patient understands how the treatment can transform their smile. There are many smile design solutions on the market that have various price points and user learning curves. Few, such as DenMat’s LumiSmile automated mobile app (IOS), is easy to use and can digitally create the patients’ new smile within 30 minutes. Any smile design application should be able to quickly share the smile design with the patient and the application should allow the patient to immediately share their smile design with friends and family through text and social media. Patients retain less than half of any treatment discussion, but an effective smile design presentation lives on their phone! In addition, a program must have access to a payment solution for the patient to afford the treatment in easy monthly payments. An effective smile design program can convert 1 to 2 cases per month which can lead to over $100k in annual production revenue.

Implement Programs and Tools That Drive Both, New Patients and Case Conversions
There are very few programs that provide tools to address both pain points, acquiring new patients and tools to convert cases. There are a broad number of programs that can drive acquisition growth, or at a minimum patient leads, to a practice. A comprehensive solution, such as the Smile Discovery Program, should have tools designed to drive new patients to practices and tools to convert treatment plans for new and existing patients into cases. It should be as “plug and play” as possible for a practice so the program does not detract from clinical care for its patients and valuable chair time. The patient acquisition program should be easy to access, implement, and track. The case conversion tool should be fast and have the ability for the patient to quickly share the smile design with friends and family.

Patient acquisition and case conversion remain some of the top pain points of a DSO practice and will continue to be in 2021. DSOs should seek a solution for their practices to overcome these hurdles. DSO leaders should target comprehensive solutions, such as DenMat’s Smile Discovery Program or one similar, that effectively addresses both pain points.

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