The State of Dental Procurement – A Survey of DSOs

Group Dentistry Now is the official media partner for Open Room Events’ DentalForum USA annual meeting. This event is Open Room’s largest event in the world and is unlike any other event in the DSO space. DSOs and emerging dental groups are matched with vendors and are given 15 minutes to discuss synergies and opportunities before the next 15 minute meeting takes place. The event is fast-paced, highly productive and gives both DSO and vendors multiple networking opportunities. During the event that was held in Nashville, TN at the Gaylord Opryland, September 11-12, there were several speakers presenting on a variety of topics. Stay tuned for a full recap of the DentalForum event on GDN.

New to the event this year, Group Dentistry Now and Open Room surveyed DSO attendees and several DSO and emerging dental group subscribers of Group Dentistry Now for our first ever DSO Procurement Survey. This survey, ‘The State of Dental Procurement in 2019,’ was presented during the opening session by Bill Neumann. Attendees were eager for him to share the survey results. As promised, here are the findings of that DSO procurement survey:

  • The survey was made up of 10 questions
  • 28 DSOs and dental group practices responded: 25 of those DSOs are based in the United States and 3 in Canada
  • At least 4,260 practices were represented in this survey
  • The average time to complete the survey was 4 minutes and 57 seconds 

1.) How many dental practices locations does your DSO / dental group currently have? (Answered: 28 Skipped: 0)

2.) Do you have a formulary or preferred product list? (Answered: 28 Skipped: 0)

Comments from survey participants:

We universally give choice, but pick those items for the formulary based upon price, quality and any need for education to understand the product. [301 + locations]

We are working on developing one now. Should be in place by Q4. [11 – 25 locations]

3.) Who makes the decisions for what products become “preferred” or become part of your formulary? [Check all that apply] (Answered: 28 Skipped: 0)


Comments from survey participants under the ‘Other’ category:

A group consisting of dentists, hygienists, dental assistants and management lead. [51 – 150 locations]

All stakeholders including operators, clinicians and vendors can recommend a product or technology for the formulary, but it goes through a vetting process by clinicians in concert with procurement. It can be as easy as presenting the product to committees or as complex as alpha / beta testing. [301 + plus locations]

Committee made up of clinical director, COO and two dentists. [51 – 150 locations]

Those manufacturers and distributors who provide value added services that help us differentiate ourselves become preferred vendors. [151 – 300 locations]

A team of stakeholders from different disciplines evaluate clinical acceptability and financial considerations. [301 + locations]

Clinical Directors (Dentists) involved. [51 – 150 locations]

4.) How many people at your dental group are involved in the purchasing / procurement process? (Answered: 27 Skipped: 1)

5.) What is the average length of time for a product to become “preferred” or part of your formulary? (Answered: 28 Skipped: 0)

6.) Do you prefer to buy a product through a dealer or direct? (Answered: 28 Skipped: 0)

Comments from survey participants:

Prefer to buy through a dealer, however the market is changing! [51 -150 locations]

Depends on viability [301 + locations]

Dealer most often, as they tend to provide more comprehensive support. Direct in cases where price component is compelling and/or service component meets requirement. [301 + locations]

Really depends on the commodity, over cost to procure. Majority of consumables should be through distribution. [301 + locations]

7.) When purchasing a product or service, rank the following by importance [ 1 being very important – 6 being the least important ] (Answered: 28 Skipped: 0)
Note: The higher the score the more important to the DSO or emerging dental group.


8.) Do you offer clinicians multiple product offerings within a category? ie: 2 or more types of composite. (Answered: 28 Skipped: 0)

Comments from survey participants:

There is always choice. We never stop a provider from a buying something themselves if they are highly emotional over it. [301 + locations]

It depends, sometimes we do. [301 + locations]

In certain cases, but not all, where appropriate and justified by meeting specific criteria. [301 + locations]

9.) Rank the list on the way you prefer a vendor to introduce their products and / or company to your DSO. [ 1 being the best way to contact you, 7 being the worst ] (Answered: 28 Skipped: 0) Note: The higher the score the more important to the DSO or emerging dental group.



10.) If you have preferred products or a formulary, approximately what is the percentage of clinicians that adhere to the formulary. (Answered: 27 Skipped: 1)

Comments from survey participants:

We have a large specialty practice which makes using non-formulary items a reality. For example, specialists will place implants that an outside GP prefers them to use. [301+ locations]

Formulary compliance initiatives in place. Forecasting higher % compliance 70 – 90% [301+ locations]

Looking for a Job? Looking to Fill a Job? can help:Subscribe for free to the most-read and respected
resource for DSO analysis, news & events:Read what our subscribers & advertisers think of us: