It would seem there remains little room for independent labs to remain competitive in a world of DSO affiliate corporate or conglomerate laboratories with pre-negotiated pricing. Success in this new environment may more a matter of strategy than price.
• A recently published article in IDT looks into the growing challenge that corporate dental service organizations (DSOs) and conglomerate labs pose to independent laboratories. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 4.2% of laboratories reported being part of a conglomerate in 2012, whereas that percentage grew to 7.5% in 2018, a trend that appears to show no signs of slowing.
• "The DSOs we have dealt with seemed far less interested in the quality and service that a laboratory like ours offers," says Steve Killian, CDT, President of Killian Dental Ceramics in Irvine, California. "Their priority seemed to be how fast and how inexpensively we could produce a product. Quality was expected, but it was not at the forefront—not by a longshot." • "My experience has been that, because many of the clinicians working for DSOs are young, they are eager to learn," says Keith Miolen, CDT, Chief Operating Officer of Aurora Dental Lab in Auburn, New York. "Communication is enhanced, which many people might find surprising, and they value the services I offer as a resource and a consultant. They can get their crowns for a lower price overseas, but if the quality is poor and they develop a bad reputation, then their business will suffer. Accordingly, we have built a business plan around helping these young clinicians as a resource of knowledge." Moilen goes on to say, "We also have established a better manufacturing process within our own business to meet their needs, which has allowed us to provide better service to our private practitioners."