Growth of Large Dental Practices

A 2012 article by the ADA discusses the dramatic growth in large dental practices owned by corporate groups, rather than by dentists. Some of these do offer dentists ownership stakes, but are still corporate, for-profit organizations that operate within a network. Dental service organizations offer centralized administrative tasks while dentists retain ownership of their practice. Overall, the growth in large dental practices is dramatic:

“According to the ADA Health Policy Resources Center, in just two years the number of large dental group practices has risen 25 percent.”

The growth of large practices drives a need for centralized, controlled data and record-keeping. The idiosyncrasies of a small practice simply cannot exist in a large, corporate, for-profit model. As a result, we predict that dental EHRs will become more and more common.

This is especially interesting because even dental service organizations include political advocacy as part of their role, which encourages and likely increases the chances of standardization of terminology and increased negotiating power with dental EHR vendors.

Lessons Learned:

  • Large dental group practices are expanding rapidly, outpacing growth in any other area of dentistry.
  • Larger practices demands standardization and centralized information repositories, including using common software.
  • Large dental practices have more negotiating power with dental EHR vendors.

Fox, Karen. (2012) ADA explores growth of large group practices. ADA News, April 9.