The benefits of consolidating dental labs

Lab consolidation by dental service organizations has not always been as prevalent as it is today.  DSOs are centralizing purchasing, and the benefits are being seen by the dental practice and the dental labs. The labs that thrive in this changing environment can be very profitable and gain higher volumes.

Having been a pioneer in the lab consolidation process, I know first-hand how this DSO-Lab Partnership can be beneficial to both parties.

DSOs are able to meet the significant demand for services at discounted rates that solo practitioners cannot or choose not to meet. The significant demand for restorative prosthetics is attractive to some dental laboratories who in turn are requested to discount their services and products.

Dental laboratories will become more cost effective in an effort to gain a larger share of the DSO market, focus on a high level of esthetics and standards of care for the patient, strive to maintain consistent turnaround time, and improve methods of communication via live support, online portals and reporting.

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Live chat allows the dentist and lab to receive instant response to questions and provides for case consultation, therefore saving time and possible miscommunication.

Online Rx’s provide the lab with a more accurate and complete script. Again, saving time for the dentist and lab by reducing the amount of calls to dental offices asking for missing information such as due date, shade, tooth number or product.  Believe it or not, even the doctor’s name and/or address.  Do you know how many Dr. Smith’s there are out there? No more wall with stacks of pans waiting for the office to call asking where their case is when all this time the lab has been waiting to find out who it even belongs to or waiting for call backs from the office with the information the lab needs to complete the case. In essence, meeting the due date, saving the dentist lost chair time and the patient lost personal time when they are in the office and the case is not or is incorrect.  Remakes are a loss to both the lab and the dentist. (Refer to my Morning Huddle article pointing out the importance of checking cases prior to the appointment.)

Most portals allow the dental staff access to the status of cases, lab questions, shipment and tracking information. Centralized purchasing benefits by having the ability to pull invoices and statements at their leisure.

Most recently, DSOs and labs are partnering to provide digitization, in the form of CAD/CAM, providing these laboratories an added level of lean manufacturing to be more productive with less resources, therefore gaining a competitive edge.

More and more labs are providing DSOs with the scanners necessary to send and receive the images faster and more accurately, reducing turnaround times and remakes. It’s a win-win for both parties.

Laboratories are providing Educational Seminars to their DSO partners. The dentists receive CE’s in addition to current knowledge on the ever changing and growing options for the patient. The dentist-lab relationship is further strengthened by face to face communication to meet the expectations necessary to align well with their lab in order to avoid any frustrations.

Understanding the laboratory’s working philosophy, knowledge base, esthetic standards, price structure, turnaround time, and restorative fabrication capacity are all essential to having a positive experience.

DSOs and Dental Laboratories should both be embracing this positive relationship opportunity.

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Elicia Gibson is the Practice Success Editor of DSO News. She is also the Founder and Senior Managing Partner of Dental Allies, Inc. Dental Allies helps practices and dental businesses scale. They accomplish this by focusing their clients on culture, growth, automation and operational improvement. They are partnered with the processing affiliate of a bank to provide the lowest payment processing rates in dental. They’ll introduce you. They are big on making meaningful introductions. Dental Allies delivers results that are real, impactful and meaningful. Elicia began her dental career as a Dental Assistant, holding multiple positions, including office manager, before being promoted to a transition manager and finally a district manager responsible for 17 offices. She was the first business development person at DDS Lab and spent close to a decade in lab sales to national accounts.