When I talk about corporate practices, I’m primarily speaking of the non-dentist owned corporate practice. There are dentist owned practices where a licensed dentist owns 3, 5 or more practices. He or she has full and legal ownership of their practices. I call these small group practices. Corporate practices tip-toe down the legal sidelines of practice ownership by having a dentist own the clinical aspect of the practice, called Dental Services Organization (DSO) and the non-licensed dentist corporation owns the non-dental management aspects, called a Management Services Organization (MSO). Note that this structure can also occur in small groups, but in the small group, a licensed dentist owns both the MSO and DSO. The large corporates include Aspen, Gentle Dental, Pacific Dental Services and others. Both solo practices and corporate practices have their pros and cons from both a patient perspective and from a dentist perspective.
As a patient, I prefer to know who my dentist is going to be when I go into the office. I want to build a relationship with him or her and want my dentist to know the history of my dental care -- and a little bit about me as well. In a corporation, you might get the same dentist the next time you go in, but there’s a good chance it will be a different dentist. Small groups lean more towards a solo practice and you will have a reasonably good chance to get the same dentist in the well run small groups.
From a dentist perspective, most dentists do not want to be told what treatment to focus on, what supplies to use, etc., The majority of dentists surveyed by the ADA still have a dream of owning their own practice, being their own boss, making their own decisions.
Recent court decisions in New Jersey, Allstate vs. Northfield, sided on the side of dentists. It may begin to set the tone to start scaring away the non-dentist corporate owners. Washington State has been trying to pass a bill to allow non-dentist owners and so far has been successful. If you’d like to read an article on the New Jersey case, you can read it here.
So, if you have been holding off on not buying a practice because corporates are going to drive solo practices away, think again. There will always be a need and demand for a solo practice. Court cases like Allstate vs. Northfield will help ensure non-dentist owned practices stay away. Join the practice ownership club today!