Dental Financing Insights

4 Key Takeaways From the 2019 ADSO Summit

4 Key Takeaways From the 2019 ADSO Summit


ADSO Takeaways blog by Samantha Nunn and Zack Scribani of First American Dental Finance
At the end of March, our team attended the ADSO Summit in San Diego, CA. At the event, industry leaders, equipment providers, and educators came together to discuss the most important topics and trends that are impacting the DSO space today. The dental industry is growing and evolving rapidly and as Ken Cooper of North American Dental Group stated, “we are all in the right place at the right time.” Below are our top four key takeaways from the Summit this year. 

1) Culture & People

If there is one main takeaway from this year’s summit – it is the emphasis on the importance of culture throughout DSOs. In both general sessions on Thursday and Friday, every executive we heard from discussed the immense need for organizations to create a desirable workplace for every employee.
In order for the doctors and their teams to produce the highest quality of dental care, mission and vision need to be consistent throughout all areas. Every single person needs to live the culture every day because that team is going to be who leads the company in the direction it needs to go. Cultural alignment is extremely important and should be a huge influencer on the decisions leaders make every day. When you put your people and your culture first, the results will come.

2) "If You've Seen One DSO, You've Seen One DSO"

One great thing about the different DSOs in the industry, is that they’re all so unique. Every DSO has a different business model and process, and there are many decisions that are made every day that will influence the future of the organization. Will you choose to be branded or unbranded? Acquisition or DeNovo? What executive should be hired first? The list goes on. CEO’s have many thoughts going through their minds and have to answer questions like these multiple times throughout the day. But the good thing is, there is no wrong answer. Just because other organizations have done things one way, doesn’t mean it’s the right way.  
Every DSO has the same goal of supporting their dentists to help them provide the highest level of care for their patients. In order to do that, executives have to make the decisions that they feel best fits the current state of their organization. It is important to truly understand the why.  What is the organization’s purpose and primary goal? What do your doctors and patients desire? The best companies have employees that know why they come to work every day.

3) Digital Advancement & Marketing 

Advancements in technology are changing the dental landscape, both from the provider perspective and the client perspective. There are constantly improvements in equipment, IT assets, and software. Topics like A.I. and teledentistry give reason for greater sensitivity when it comes to data and risk management. All of these subjects that were covered in different breakout sessions throughout the Summit investigated the current and potential benefits for both the doctors and the patients.  Technology is undoubtedly a primary driver in a DSO’s pursuit to provide better access to dental care and better quality of dental care.
Having advanced technology to provide better and faster service to patients is crucial for DSOs from a variety of different perspectives. 3D imaging and intraoral cameras help provide more efficient and effective scanning, resulting in better treatment decisions. Online social platforms attract new patients and provide an opportunity for an online review, which is often thought of as just as valuable as a personal recommendation. Online booking and scheduling provide a level of convenience that can set practices apart from their competitors. Having the most updated technology and dental spaces can attract great talent to the practice. These are just a few key examples of ways that obtaining the latest technology can give your DSO a competitive edge. It is so important to continuously evolve as the industry does in order to stay relevant and up to date.

4) Women in the DSO Industry 

In the breakout session Leadership: Women in the DSO industry, panelists Dr. Yashu Singh of Sing Orthodontics, Tanisha Wicker, SVP of Human Resources at Smile Brands, and Jody Martin, Chief Marketing Officer of Smile Brands, talked in detail on what they’ve learned from being leading women in the dental space. Leadership is not about gender, it is about being able to make things happen, advocate for patients, and provide clinical excellence, and the world is changing in the direction of powerful women.

Smile Brands is a standout for women leadership representation. Among the top DSOs, only 24 percent of their organizations are women, whereas Smile Brands has 46 percent women in their company. Tanisha pointed out that it is important for DSOs everywhere to recognize the benefits of gender equality and make it a priority in their culture. Many practices are predominantly female, so having a woman’s mindset and representation in leadership can open the door to new ideas and thought processes throughout the entire organization.

Overall, this refreshing breakout session was a reminder that the world is evolving, the dental industry is evolving, so it is so important to make sure your culture evolves with it to break down gender barriers. There is opportunity for women in the DSO space, so don’t be afraid to ask for it. 


The Association of Dental Support Organizations (ADSO) is a non-profit organization comprised of more than 60 member companies and more than 150 industry partners. ADSO members enable supported dentists to focus on their patients and expand access for dental care while maintaining the highest standards of business and professional ethics. To learn more about ADSO and the Annual Summit, visit

First American Dental Finance provides leasing and financing services to the entire spectrum of dental businesses. As an ADSO Industry Partner, First American provides tailored funding options for dental equipment, technology, software, and renovation projects – all backed by dedicated service. Click here for more information. 

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