North Texas Dentistry Volume 9 Issue 5 2019 ISSUE 5 DE - Page 28

practice models THE PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE OF THE DSO by Brian Colao and Meredith Tavallaee First, what is a DSO? A Dental Services Organization or “DSO” provides non-clinical administrative support services to dental practices that are 100% owned and controlled by licensed dentists. A DSO is not a licensed dentist and cannot practice dentistry, own a dental practice or interfere with the independent professional judgment of a licensed dentist. Rather, a DSO can provide non-clin- ical support services to a contractually affiliated dental practice. The key feature of a DSO is that it can be owned by non- dentists who generally have access to more capital than licensed dentists and can provide much higher rates of return for practice owners who choose to affiliate with a DSO. DSO 1.0 - The 1990s DSOs have been around since the 1990s when a group of successful orthodontists in Atlanta created a model to manage other orthodontists and provide a retire- ment plan by locating orthodontists to take their place when they wanted to retire. Unfortunately, the orthodontists lacked the capital to implement their model and had to obtain non-dentist investors. As a result, the model that was created differed considerably from the initial vision of the founding orthodon- tists in that it was owned by non-dentists that did not understand dentistry or the dental regulations. The non-dentist own- ers did not get along with their contrac- tually affiliated dentists, did not follow the required regulations and the result was massive litigation by dentists who sought to terminate their contracts. In the end, the First Generation DSO model was almost a complete failure. However, the original vision of the model was appealing and the door was left open for future revised models. 28 NORTH TEXAS DENTISTRY | DSO 2.0 - Present Day In the early 2000s, the DSO model was tried again and improved upon with the knowledge from the failed first genera- tion. The new DSOs got along with their contractually affiliated dentists and attracted friendly dentists who were onboard with the DSO model. Although generation 2.0 did meet with success, it still failed to follow all of the regulations and had trouble attracting and retaining talent due to a lingering perception that