Life cycle of a practice: Solo-doctor practice
The DDSO: Dentist-owned
private group models
Brady Frank, DDS
WHEN I PURCHASED my first practice in 2001, the year that I graduated from
dental school, the roadmap for success in private practice seemed well defined.
Over the last 15 years, however, the dental landscape has changed significantly. I
won’t get into the myriad clinical changes that have happened in the last 15 years.
Instead I will focus on how the business environment of dentistry has changed—and
specifically on the conglomeration of a very fragmented dental industry and how
private practice dentists can leverage these changes for practice growth.
Fifteen years ago, a very small percentage of dental practices were contracted with dental support organizations
(DSOs). Today that number is much higher and growing
rapidly. For many dentists, this has caused concern. Others
are excited about new opportunities. Whichever side of the
fence you are on, you can learn the specialized knowledge,
techniques, and protocols that the most successful DSOs
have used and take part in dentistry’s new boom.
My background in dental transitions has given me insight
into today’s ecosystem of DSOs, solo practitioners, and
other practice models. After providing more than 30 Phasing
Out seminars between 2006 and 2008 and consulting with
hundreds of dentists about transition models, I noticed
some trends. Most notably, I found this American Dental
Association statistic to be true: the average age of retirement
among dentists is 68. 8. 1
To avoid becoming casualties of this statistic, savvy dentists must use practice models that have produced financial
abundance and security for dentists in the past. As I became
more active in the dental transition environment, I began
working with more private group practices and joined the
American Academy of Dental Group Practice (AADGP),
studying DSOs that had proven track records of success.
When I started applying my transition background to the
DSO environment, a new breed of
business models began to form. I
call these DDSOs: DSOs that are
majority-owned by dentists.
DDSOs incorporate the stron-gest business systems of DSOs,
with modern private practice management and ownership. These
systems include passive income,
vertical business opportunities,
creative mergers and acquisitions,
multistate expansion, dual-entity
approaches, economies of scale,
and continuing education via
advanced IT. Many of these
systems were previously untapped
by private practice dentistry.
In studying these models, I
discovered that the most suc-
This illustration of the life cycle of a practice allows us to visualize areas of opportunity. On the front end, there
is the opportunity for practice growth and equity. During the later stages, there is the opportunity to acquire a
practice for the growing DDSO.
MACRO & OP/ED