Showing posts with label Dental Service Organizations in 2013–a Collage of Crap. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dental Service Organizations in 2013–a Collage of Crap. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Corporate Dental Branding- What Dental Consumers Need to Know

Dr. Michael Davis
Dr. Michael W. Davis maintains a general dental practice in Santa Fe, NM. He serves as chairperson for Santa Fe District Dental Society Peer-Review. Dr. Davis also provides a fair amount of dental expert legal work for attorneys. He may be contacted via email:

Corporate Dental Branding- What Dental Consumers Need to Know

A brand is a name, term or symbol which one company uses to differentiate its products and services, from that of another company.1 Corporations employ numbers of different strategies in branding. Healthcare professionals are generally fairly ignorant on corporate branding practices, as this is not an element of their formal education. By contrast, those parties which beneficially own corporate dental practices retain individuals well-skilled and well educated in all forms of retail sales, marketing, and finance. Their abilities include a plethora of differing and complex branding methodology.

In its simplest form, a chain of corporate dental clinics may seek direct brand recognition by consumers. They may market “outstanding dental care at reasonable prices”, all associated with their brand. Branding may be part of a marketing program to generate public goodwill via broad mechanisms, ranging from well-publicized charitable events to sponsoring a NASCAR driver.2 Branding may also be associated with the business model of dental Medicaid care.

Unfortunately for the corporate dental industry, many of their more established brands have become associated with abuses to the public welfare.3-9  

(Author’s note: References only cite a mere handful of well reported abuses generated from corporate dentistry, disclosed by government officials.) 

Dental clinics managed and directed by non-doctor corporate management often have a troubling record, which the public is witnessing. Likewise, dentists who may be employed in such workplaces are also witnessing abuses to the public interest generated and facilitated by brand-name companies in corporate dentistry. As such, many in the public are avoiding dental services offered by branded corporate dental practices. Further, these branded corporate practices are finding employee/doctor attraction and retention increasingly challenging. One corporate chain recently reported over 10% loss in total dentist staff for a one-year period.10

Crowd Sourced Branding-

Numbers of branded corporate dental groups are increasingly discovering their branded identity has negative consequences. In fact, the term “corporate dentistry” is an example of “crowd sourced branding”, in which the public assigns a company a brand (positive or negative), versus the traditional method of branding, in which a company designs their branding scheme.

Some dental corporations have fought back by explicitly marketing their distance from “corporate dentistry”. One such ad from a corporate dental chain openly states, “You Hate Corporate Dentistry and So Do We”. The veracity of their claim seems highly suspect, especially when one views their multiple settlement agreements with multiple states’ attorney generals. However, corporate dental management is evidently far more concerned with negative fallout of crowd sourced branding, versus presenting truth in the public marketplace. 

To further counter the negative public impression of corporate dentistry generated by crowd sourced branding, numbers of corporate dental chains market the misrepresentation of doctors, and not faceless Wall Street types, as owning dental practices. The reality is very different and highly disturbing. 
Numbers of dental chain corporations establish specific individual doctors to act fully as sham-owners, who have no control of management, the sale of “their” asset of the dental practice, or control of clinic bank accounts. In fact, these shame-owner dentists have no idea how the funds generated by “their” dental clinics are allocated; depositions in the Small Smiles mass action lawsuit made that abundantly clear.

Other corporate dental chains establish a group of dentists acting as sham-owners, via the accounting mechanism of a professional corporation (PC). Again, these doctors have no true and valid ownership privileges of dental practices, as beneficial ownership passes to non-doctor corporations, often private equity investment firms. Some of the world’s largest and most well-known private equity firms currently are or formerly have been the beneficial holders of corporate dental chains, which direct patient dental care. Examples include Morgan Stanley11, Valour Investments Ltd.12, Carlyle Group13, American Capital Strategies13, FFL Partners14, Gryphon Investors15, MSD Capital (holdings of Michael Dell  family)16,17, etc. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dental Service Organizations in 2013–a Collage of Crap













Who owns these Dental Service Organizations (DSO’s)?

Dental One Partners, is in the news in North Carolina; lawsuits from dentists and the North Carolina Dental Board. Today let’s look at Wal-Mart’s dip into dentistry. For years have I reported that a majority of DSO’s are owned by private equity and unlicensed corporate interests in direct violations of the Dental Practice Acts. It is a fa├žade to bypass the law! Even if a genuine dentist wanted to own and operate a DSO in a legal and ethical fashion, is it hard or hardly possible?

A recent case filed in California against a dental service organization is a classic example on how these management front organizations are formed or owned to bypass the laws:

This lawsuit I posted alleges all sorts of misconduct, but the one that is most interesting to me, is the structural setups of the Wal-Mart dental offices.

In this particular case, Wal-Mart was obviously not allowed to own dental offices due to Stark, Dental Practice Acts, and Federal Anti-Kickback Statues. So what did Wal-Mart do to get in on the lucrative business of dentistry and maintain full control? Under the guise of compliance, they decided to setup a management (DSO) entity in Delaware and locate the home offices in Nevada while setting up dental offices in California and Arizona, with their own crew.  Heck, even Smile Brands has hopping into bed with Wal-Mart.

It is alleged that Kent Reeves was the former VP of New Business Development for Wal-Mart, now an executive of the fake dental management company. It is further alleged that Ken Antos owns a restaurant chain inside of Wal-Marts and is a private equity man, now another executive of this fake management company. The lawsuit states that after the idea was presented to Wal-Mart by Dr. Kianor Shah, a California Dentist, it was business as usual.

Since neither of their two “de facto owners” are licensed dentists nor have any dental office management history at all, they needed a dentist to register all of the entities with those states in order to open the doors.

It appears as they approached a politician, whom happens to be a dentist, to serve as their front man:

Does this story sound familiar to the private equity backed cases of Forba, Dental One, Aspen, Heartland, ReachOut, KoolSmiles, and others alike?

The FTC says that it has not seen any cases where there was an issue with competition for other dentists. Well how many more private equity backed dental scandals need to be uncovered before the federal government steps in and protects the public from harm and allow fair competition to dentists? The result is usually the same when these DSO’s enjoy immunity. Dentists are coerced to push for production and patient care becomes a second priority.

If you wanted to take the time, all of these trace back to a few “not so Good Men” and the DGPA’s president Edward Meckler; also top dog at Dental One Partners.