What’s the Connection between Trump and Dental Support Organizations?


Ok, so you have clicked through to read this article most likely because ‘Trump’ is in the headline.  However, if you are involved in the world of dentistry you may have decided to read this article based on the fact that ‘DSO’ or ‘dental support organization’ is in the headline.  Either way, this type of headline is called clickbait.  Clickbait is a headline used to drive a reader to click through and read the article which may or may not have much to do with the headline.

Put Trump’s name in any article and the click through rate will increase.  The election of Donald Trump has given some fading newspapers and mainstream publications new readership and has even helped increase profits for some media giants.  You can see this phenomenon in action by simply Googling Donald Trump.  You will find appx. 97,000,000 results in the news section.  Granted, Donald Trump gives the media plenty to write about.  Google DSOs, also a very controversial topic, and you will get about 40,000 results.  Still wondering the connection? Its controversy.

I have been monitoring the  traditional or ‘mainstream’ dental press for quite a while, and within the past nine months to a year, there has been a rather large uptick in DSO stories.  It seems that most of the larger dental publications feature at least one DSO or group practice article per month.  Mainstream dental publications are realizing that dentists and the industry are interested in understanding the complexities, differences, and similarities of dental service organizations.  The rise of DSOs and dental group practices brings fear, confusion, uncertainty and a myriad of other emotions to the dental industry and the dental practices which the industry serves. The fact that traditional dental publications are writing articles consistently about DSOs and group practices is good news for DSOs, right?  Not exactly.  Much of the current DSO content is negative or dismissive.

The high level of  interest in dental support organizations has not gone unnoticed by advertisers.  Practice management companies and other dental product companies use their own click bait by employing words in their eblasts such as ‘corporate dentistry’, ‘corporate takeover’ and ‘private equity’ to get dentists to click on their products and services. Vilifying DSOs is a way of generating business. But framing DSOs negatively does not help serve the dental community because it does not help the industry understand why DSOs exist and how DSOs can help doctors and the community, including the underserved.

What is a DSO to do?

Dental support organizations can look at this uptick in press, even negative press, as an opportunity.  DSOs should focus on telling their individual stories and educating the dental industry and dentist as to the purpose and benefits of DSOs.  There are advocates for dental support organizations like the ADSO, Group Dentistry Now, and the AADGP.  Individual DSOs need to take charge and tell their own stories and become their own advocates.  There is a quote in public relations that goes, “If you don’t tell your story, someone else will.”  This is important to acknowledge, accept and to make sure, as a dental support organization, that you pay attention to what is being said and communicated about your business model to the industry at large.  Become an educational source for dentists and staff to understand your purpose, model and goals.  Give dentists and their staff the ability to make an informed decision based on your clear, comprehensive, and accurate message. In our highly-connected digital world, delivering the message is relatively easy and is readily available to everyone.

Beth Miller, Contributing Editor, Group Dentistry Now