dental team collaborating on a patient case

By: Thomas Terronez, CEO – Medix Dental IT

The landscape of the dental industry has witnessed significant changes in recent years, with Dental Service Organizations (DSOs) emerging as a dominant force. While DSOs have been successful in achieving growth and scalability, a noticeable culture gap has emerged between DSO leadership and individual dental practices. Based on our extensive experience working with DSOs over several years, we’ve identified several key challenges and potential solutions to bridge this cultural divide.

In our observations, we’ve often found that DSO leadership cultures tend to be robust and well-defined, while individual dental practices within the organization struggle to establish a meaningful connection with this overarching culture. This disconnect can hinder collaboration, shared values, and a sense of belonging among dental practice teams. One of the primary factors contributing to the culture gap is a breakdown in communication. Dental practices frequently find themselves disconnected from the broader organization, leading to a lack of buy-in regarding the DSO’s mission and core values. Effective communication is essential to ensure that every member of the team understands their role within the organization and aligns with its overarching goals.

Many DSOs have experienced rapid growth, which can be both a blessing and a curse. While growth is undoubtedly a positive sign, it can strain the foundation of the connection between the practice and the DSO. Successful integration should prioritize relationship building, ensuring that practices feel valued and supported during this transformative phase. To bridge the culture gap, dental practices require more than just guidance; they need comprehensive support. This includes clarity in expectations, mentorship, and a safe environment to discuss challenges openly. Regional managers play a pivotal role in this process, and they must be equipped with strong emotional intelligence (EQ). Their objectives should balance practice happiness with performance metrics.

Simply throwing money and technology at the culture gap rarely leads to substantial improvements. The real challenge lies in creating an inclusive and collaborative environment where individuals at all levels feel heard and valued. DSOs sometimes overlook the fact that happy dental practices are more likely to be profitable. A focus on employee satisfaction, workplace culture, and professional development can have a significant impact on practice performance.

For DSOs facing these culture gap challenges, the first step should be to assess the issues directly through open and honest conversations with individuals at all levels within the dental practices. Creating a safe environment where concerns and suggestions can be shared is crucial for identifying and addressing root causes. Bridging the culture gap between DSO leadership and individual dental practices is a critical endeavor in today’s evolving dental industry. By prioritizing effective communication, fostering mentorship and support, and recognizing the importance of happy, engaged teams, DSOs can build stronger, more cohesive organizations. The journey begins with understanding the unique challenges faced by each practice and working collaboratively to create a culture that thrives on unity and shared values.

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