Due to a wide variety of factors, the dental industry is undergoing a rapid transformation. From pandemic impacts on staffing and patients to technological advancements and increasing economic uncertainty, dental service organizations (DSOs) have a lot on their plate this year.
At the same time, DSOs are on the fast track for growth, with the global market size projected to reach $454.7 billion by 2030 — that’s a rate of 15.8% per year, according to ReportLinker.
So, how can your company keep up with this accelerated evolution? Let’s go through some of the current challenges facing DSOs and the top trends for 2023.
Current Challenges Facing DSOs
Whether it’s a tight labor market or rising inflation, nearly every industry is facing challenges this year. But just like other businesses, DSOs have their own unique challenges to overcome.
To understand the current and future landscape of group dentistry, here are some of the challenges these organizations are facing:
Restoring the Patient Base
While patient volumes have largely recovered since the pandemic, returning to 84% of 2019 levels, the dental industry is still rebuilding its original customer base. This is especially true for DSOs acquiring a new practice.
According to Dentist’s Money Digest, these group practices can expect to lose about 25% of their business in the first six months of acquisition. To overcome these challenges, DSOs will have to prioritize the patient experience while highlighting the consumer advantages of group dentistry.
Managing Staffing and Provider Turnover
Dealing with staffing shortages and replacing providers are common challenges every DSO must face to keep up with demand. While employment in the field is expected to grow 6% by 2031, the unemployment rate for dental professionals sits at just 0.5%.
In addition to hiring staff members, DSOs must continue to deal with provider turnover. For instance, it’s not uncommon for dentists to join a DSO when they’re close to retirement or want to work part-time. As group dental organizations expand, they may want to consider targeting newer college graduates who are looking to start a practice.
Leveraging Digital Dentistry
The digital transformation is here, but many DSOs have been hesitant to adapt.
Whether it’s due to the expenses of implementing new equipment, software solutions and IT infrastructure or the steep learning curves for staff, acquiring new technology has always been slow in the dental industry. Fortunately, cost-effective and user-friendly cloud-based solutions allow DSOs to get in on the action.
Solving These DSO Challenges in 2023 and Beyond
The dental industry is evolving at an accelerated rate, largely driven by the impacts of the pandemic and technological advancements. While DSOs will undoubtedly face many unforeseen challenges, they’ve already demonstrated a rapid recovery and positioned themselves for massive growth in the near future. But what does this competitive environment look like for 2023 and beyond?
Let’s take a look at the top five most significant challenges impacting DSOs and how they’re overcoming them.
1. Expanding DSO Practices
With the global DSO market growing by nearly 16% each year, these organizations are expected to undergo some pretty significant growth. But expanding dental practices is easier said than done. Managing multiple offices — each with its own daily operations — as you would a private practice is simply too much.
To achieve this growth, DSOs will have to standardize their processes and consolidate their data with cloud-based solutions. That way, they have seamless integrations across every location and easy access to all the data and reporting they need.
2. Tackling Staff Shortages
As with many industries, staffing shortages have been a huge issue for dentistry throughout the last few years. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), 88% of practices had extreme difficulty finding dental assistants, while 91% struggled to recruit hygienists.
To combat these shortages, DSOs are re-evaluating things like their hiring practices and company culture. They’re also leveraging social media to promote job openings and digital solutions to maximize productivity.
3. Migrating to the Cloud
Innovations in cloud computing have enabled DSOs to centralize, streamline and optimize everything from scheduling appointments and processing payments to reporting on business performance. Quadintel, an independent research company, projects the global market for cloud-based practice management software to grow at a rate of over 11.5% per year between 2023 and 2028. As more DSOs adopt cloud technologies, they’ll be able to meet rising consumer expectations while facilitating faster, more productive workflows.
4. Centralizing Everything on a Single Platform
For DSOs, consolidation and standardization have always been significant growth factors. While outdated and on-premise software solutions made this difficult in the past, the rise of cloud-based tools makes it easier than ever to centralize all your data on a single platform. Not only does modern dental software seamlessly integrate with your existing digital ecosystem, but it also connects disparate data sources to provide comprehensive visibility. This system enables DSOs to standardize and streamline all their day-to-day operations across multiple locations for maximum efficiency.
5. Prioritizing the Patient Experience
Today’s patients want a seamless, convenient experience from the moment they book an appointment to their final payment.
That’s why DSOs are making the patient experience a top priority this year. As part of this initiative, many organizations are investing more in online scheduling and billing platforms to streamline these processes as much as possible. In addition to administrative workflows, DSOs are also leveraging new technology to enhance the in-chair experience and build stronger patient relationships.
Preparing Your DSO For a Successful 2023
While DSOs must overcome many hurdles in the dynamic dental industry, these challenges come with new opportunities for expansion and improvement. Carestream Dental can help your organization unlock this potential.
With over 100 years of innovations in dental imaging and practice management solutions, we have the experience and cutting-edge technology you need to continue your growth trajectory.
To learn more about how Carestream Dental can help your DSO succeed in today’s competitive environment, contact us today.