E151: Dr. Kevin Coughlin Discusses Fillers

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E150: Dr. Kevin Coughlin Discusses Neuro Modulators

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Cloud-based Dental Practice, with Eric Giesecke – Part 2

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Hello and welcome to ascent dental radio, a program dedicated to the balance between the clinical aspect of healthcare and the business of healthcare. And now, here’s your host, Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

Good evening. This is Dr. Kevin Coughlin and you’re listening to ascend dental solutions. With a focus on knowledge education development training. I want to give a special thanks to our sponsors Patterson Dental, Henry Schein, and vocal dental supplies and material. Without their sponsorship, these podcasts would be very difficult. I also want to say a special thanks to David Wolf and his podcast team that put these podcasts together for us every week. A couple of weeks ago, we have a special guest, Mr. Eric Giesecke. He is one of the CEOs and founders of planet DDS, denticon. And full disclosure. Although I do not know, Eric, I’ve had him on my podcast. And I felt that it was important to get him back because there were topics that we didn’t discuss. I have been a user of planet DDS, in my opinion for at least 15 years. And I have nothing but positive things to say about their team and their product in full disclosure, but I’ll let my listeners make their own decisions. Eric, thank you again for joining us. I really appreciate the last podcast the information and knowledge gave to our listeners. Why don’t you give a brief introduction to yourself and your company?

Thanks, Dr. Kaufman for having me again. I’ve been replaying DDS since 2015. When we acquired it through through a search fund as folks may have remembered, it’s a single purpose vehicle intended to acquire and operate a business. Today, we are roughly 300 employees, we are active in roughly 10,000 offices with one of our three products denticon, the practice management software, you mentioned Apteryx, our imaging software and lay work our patient relationship management software. Our focus is primarily from a product perspective on DSOs, and MSOs. But we also serve roughly 2000 or 2500, rather independent dental offices as well. All of our products are in the cloud, they were architected to be cloud based from from the ground up. And we think there’s lots of interesting opportunities to continue to see in the dental industry as we as we continue to try to unleash dentists to practice on patient care.

Eric, on our last podcast, you talked about your three basic departments in denticon. But I wanted to know, how is your company and your software cloud based systems? How can you help the dentists dealing with these tragedies in trying to keep your team or staff together since there seems to be an enormous shortage? I can’t go to any programs, I can’t sit down with a group of physicians or dentists and not hear the same thing. Like where are you getting your employees, Kevin? How can you continue to grow? And I think the cloud based system in softwares, such as yourself, may be able to help us with this particular problem. Can you give a little more insight into that area?

Yeah, we’ve we’ve heard the same thing from many of our clients through the Great Recession, finding good folks and retaining it folks has been has been a challenge. Some of our clients have have found some success because we are cloud based and you can access the software from anywhere in terms of providing some flexibility in terms of back office services from remote work. We’re in the software business, we are pretty much semi virtual. I’m in the office today, there’s roughly five people two years ago, a slow day for us used to be about 25 people. And I think a lot of people a lot of our people have really appreciated the ability to work flexibly being able to log in and for example, post payments or attach or batch claims or follow up on outstanding patient AR being cloud based and being accessible from anywhere, allows people to do that, which I think is particularly from a back office clerical perspective has allowed some of the DSOs to introduce some flexibility into into the staff.

I can only tell you I have right now probably maybe 65 employees or what I like to call team members and have the flexibility of having them if they have childcare issues, if they have illnesses, whatever it is to be able to work from your home. That flexibility is allowed me to to cushion the blow. I still have my issues like every dentist but this cloud based system that your company offers my company has actually been a significant advantage. And I’m assuming our listeners if they’re not aware of it, think about the beauty of what we’re able to do, whether it’s confirm appointments, whether it’s to look at data and make determinations about marketing decisions in completed treatment plans, communication with the patient, you don’t always need to have a team member in the office, they can work remotely, which means that it gives you a little extra space in your office. It also provides that incentive for potential employees to join your team, do you see a certain percentage of your clients moving in that direction, or you don’t have that data available?

Anecdotally, most of the large, larger clients and we serve some clients, I have over 300 locations have started to think about things in the same way to be competitive from a labor perspective. It was interesting during COVID, the last place people want it to be understandably, during a global respiratory pandemic was was at the dentist and so everyone basically shut down and patients weren’t being seen. But there was still work to be done. And I think it taught a lot of a lot of a lot of dental offices that work could still be done without team members in the office. And and I think the cloud based aspect of the software, the ability to access data, as you mentioned, to be able to schedule appointments or to be able to follow up on appointments remotely has given us given folks that flexibility. The if I had to estimate, I would say the majority of our larger clients have introduced some flexibility. And that denticon has allowed them to do that. I can’t say for certain if all but but we’re definitely seeing that as a trend.

I’d like to have yet addressed another topic. And that topic is with your background with your knowledge. Is there maybe three or five bullet points that you could provide our listeners to say I thinking about a cloud based system? What are those five bullet points that that our listeners should really consider before they jump from one cloud system to another? What are some of the competitive advantages with your background and experience that you could educate our listeners?

Yep, good question. So I think the first thing I would recommend if I was independent, and it’s hard to be properly independent, given my position, but if I were advising a friend, and I didn’t work for planning TDs, I would, I would ask, I would suggest that they speak to five or six folks or people that have transitioned to the software and been on the software for a while. The industry is really, with the exception of us, and we’ve been around for 17 years now in the cloud. It is very new to cloud technologies, there are a lot of new entrants that are are working to develop full, fully functional solutions. But I think there’s also a lot of marketing out there. And I think it’s important to have spoken to a couple people, such as yourself that had been on the product for a while and can speak honestly to some of the some of the challenges. The second thing I think we because we are the system of record, and really mission critical for dental offices with all three of our products, it’s really important that you understand the company you’re partnering with. And there, there will be challenges moving to new software’s is not easy used to click here, and I click here, change is always difficult. But if you’re working with good supportive people that you can rely on that, that are only a phone call or a ticket away, you’ll get through the initial challenges related to switching the software, and they’ll support you, as you either continue to grow, adopt new functionality, want to change how you do things in the practice? So the second one I would do is I’d really understand what the support profile and and kind of on, I would look at reviews online to make sure that the company is good at that. The third I would say is is the company well capitalized does it have the ability to invest in the software, we have two large private equity funds that support us, they reinvest all of our all of our cash flow back into business, mostly in development.

And the reason why you want to do that is you want to be partnered with a company that will be innovative, and will think about not only what you’re solving dentist problems today, but what’s going to ultimately solve dentists problems two to three years from now. The fourth one I would say is how how does that company play in a broader marketplace? I think there’s a lot of solutions and we kind of cool things being developed in dental technology, some cloud based systems take a take kind of a position that they need to be closed architecture and not partner with a lot of flux. We we believe that we ultimately want to be good stewards of good dental care. And as good technology arises, we want to partner with that technology and give our clients the ability not just to use our technology, but that technology. So I think the just generally how the company views itself relative to other partners. And then I’d say I’d say the fifth if I had to come up with one off top my head is probably on how that software deals with multispecialty it’s We’re seeing a lot, particularly the DSL space. Now, a lot of DSL is starting to bring specialty in house. How do you work with external partners when it comes to referring specialty out if that’s the methodology you’re using for specialty treatment? But how is the software viewing itself in changing to, to, to adhere to what’s becoming a more complex and more specialty driven different dental work?

Well, Eric, I can’t tell you again, I know you’re busy. I know your company’s growing leaps and bounds. And as I said earlier in the podcast, 100% endorsement, your team their support over basically 15 years, it could be close to 17. I might have been one of your first clients, and I don’t regret a date that I partnered with you in your company. If my listeners have additional questions or interest, how would they be able to contact you what’s the best way

Visit www.planetDDS, where we have all kinds of information, there’s forms you can fill out if you’re if you’re looking to take a look at the software, you want to see information about the company. Or if you prefer to email info at Planet dds.com is monitored by I think probably half of the company and if you send an email, you’ll get a response from somebody within 60 minutes.

That’s terrific. Eric, thank you so much. Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve been listening to Dr. Kevin Coughlin. This is a sent dental solutions with a focus on knowledge, education, development and training. I can’t thank you enough for tuning in and listening to us. I really appreciate your support. And in closing, I want to thank pepsin dental Henry Schein and vocal dental Supply Company for their support. And again, a shout out to David Wolf and his podcast team for putting these together. Eric, I really appreciate your time. I know you’re busy. I really thank you and your company for what you’re doing for our profession. Keep it up, keep growing. And I look forward to speaking there in the near future. Thank you so much. Thanks. All right. Thank you

E148: Cloud-based Dental Practice, with Eric Giesecke – Part 1

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Hello and welcome to ascent dental radio, a program dedicated to the balance between the clinical aspect of healthcare and the business of healthcare. And now, here’s your host, Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

Good evening. This is Dr. Kevin Coughlin. From ascent dental solutions with a focus on knowledge, education, training and development. I want to thank our sponsors today, in particular Patterson Dental, Henry Schein, and vocal dental supply company. Without their sponsorship, these podcasts would be very difficult. I also want to give a shout out to David Wolfe and his podcast team who put these together for us in a very professional manner. Tonight, we have a guest His name is Mr. Eric Giesecke. And Eric represents planet DDS a cloud based software system. And in full disclosure, I have been a client of planet DDS, for almost 15 years. And I can only rave about it. But let’s just put it this way. Eric has some specific topics that he’d like to address to our listeners. And Eric, I’m going to turn it over to you. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with the company. Sure. Thanks. Thanks very much for having me, Kevin. And thank you very much for being a longtime customer. I got involved in planning DDS in 2015, when Google investors and I bought the business through a what’s called a search fund, which is a single purpose vehicle intended to acquire and operate a single business. At that time, we were 25 employees working at a small office in Costa Mesa. Today, we’re roughly 300 employees, we have three key core systems that we offer to the dental industry. One is dental comm which is our core practice management software. We also have Apteryx, which is our agnostic imaging, cloud base, capture and viewer software and light work, which is our patient relationship management software.

And, Eric, if you could give me in this particular podcast, I sort of wanted to focus in on DSOs, which for most of our listeners would eat the dental support or a dental service organizations, that market seems to continue to grow. How is it affecting your business? What do you see? What do you think the future holds for us? I think from a DSL perspective, it’s very early in in the industry consolidation. And I think there’s a couple of major trends that are driving the consolidation when there’s lots of capital and lots of financial sponsors that are been active and getting smarter about the industry. I think dental Dental, historically, from a technology and from a consolidation perspective, very much mirrors what’s happened in, in, in the medical space and, and I think from a demographic perspective, I read somewhere that 11% of dentists plan to retire in the next two years, I think there are lots of folks who have independent practices that are looking for opportunities to retire. And I think the DSOs are nice avenue for them to define some liquidity and exit and to sell to a practice or to a larger DSO.

Correct you or your company make a differential diagnosis for lack of better terms. A DSO to me means it’s dentists owned. An MSO means that it’s usually backed by venture capital. My personal belief is they’re all going to merge into basically one big conglomeration. But is there a difference in your particular product and needs for your company? Do you see specific challenge to your company? Or are you meeting those challenges and see opportunities, because we’re entirely cloud based, and both the MSOs as you define it, and DSO use case, all our technologies are well suited for all of the things that you need to scale. So both the MSOs, which have financial sponsors, and the DSOs are both looking to acquire and grow. And being on a cloud based single platform allows you to do that seamlessly through adding additional offices being a centralized being able to centralize operations, having a single patient and a single provider record, not having duplicative data across different locations. Our software is very well suited, we believe to both to both cases. One of the things I’d like to talk to our listeners is I had 15 dental practices. And we’re going back to the early 80s. When I had to pay for T one line T two lines, T three lines. I think it was up to almost $28,000 a month to transfer data from these 15 locations. So I didn’t have paper charts, and quite honestly, one of the big boons to these MSOs and DSOs, in my opinion, was the ability to transfer data. And when I saw denticon planet DDS it was like a revelation.

I couldn’t believe my ability to transfer CBT scans or digital models, that that the ability for offices that are interested in expanding, and going into more of a group practice with different locations, your company and your product, in my opinion, is been extraordinary. Can you speak to when I originally was getting in in the early 80s and early 90s, most of the software that was out there really never could accommodate multiple practices in multiple locations.

Once I got to about five or six locations, it was just lights out, nothing ever worked. Very seldom do I find a problem with Planet TDs? Is there an opportunity for you to explain to our listeners what separates your cloud based product from others in that marketplace? Yeah, denticon. And the other cloud based applications were very, very much built for a DSL or MSL, it was architected in such a way that it allowed for easy transfer of data between the different locations, it allowed for a provider to access his or her data, whether whether he or she was traveling to different offices, it allowed that data to be referred out to a specialist within the account as well, like you mentioned, to be able to pull images directly from the patient, no matter whether it was a centralized billing office, they wanted to attach an image or it was a provider that wanted to access historical images. When that provider was visiting another office, the architecture, which is what they call multi single instance, multi tenant architecture allows you to be able to access data across any single account and any single location. So it’s very, very much architected for that exact same use case. And if you were to make a, let’s say, a sales pitch, for lack of a better term, to some of our listeners, is there a training program that your company offers? Let’s just say that dentist who says, jeez, I’m ready to open up my second or third practice? How do they integrate? What are the steps? What’s the timeframe in estimated cost involved for someone to get involved with Planet DDS, 10? To con? That’s a good question. So we are have become super adapted integrating new acquisitions into existing accounts. There’s there really two major components to that one, as you mentioned, is a training component, we have different varieties of training, whether it be our learning management system, which can be accessed remotely through thing tutorials with with quizzes, that either individuals or staff members can can take at their own leisure to remote training, which can be done through zoom these days in a post COVID world to actually folks who will travel on site, and meet with staff and, and individuals and go through how to use the software. So the training component is flexible. We do it in three to four sessions, typically, depending on the availability of the of the customer. But we’ve we can deliver that in many different ways that the second piece is the data conversion, which we’ve also had a tremendous amount of experience with doing from all different types of systems. And how that works is we will pull the data from the legacy system, oftentimes an on premise system, we will insert the data into what we call a an audit environment, which is a test environment will work with the customer to to review the data to make sure that the data transferred over correctly. And then we’ll insert the data, typically over a weekend for a go live on Monday that that whole process can take anywhere on a per location or per group of location basis, between six and seven weeks.

And the cost vary depends very much on how the customer would like to be trained, and to what extent the customer wants to incorporate and convert legacy data from the old system. But we try not to make the we realize that switching software is not easy. It’s a it’s sometimes a frightening decision, we try not to let the cost of converting from an old legacy system be an impediment to deciding to move to Datacom. But we we typically we’ve got tremendous experience working across lots of different platforms. I think some of the listeners, I can just say that, you know, I’m 64 years old, I put my first computer in in 1983. I’ve probably gone through five iterations of hardware and software. But when the cloud base, it’s easy for me to retrieve Mr. And Mrs. Smith data. Whereas now I find I have patients that have been with me now 40 years, and they want to know what implant that I put in, then I have no idea. You know, it’s on three or four other high drives that were decades old. Whereas with this cloud based system, I think that’s a tremendous advantage to our profession as time progresses.

And we need to retrieve this information, particularly in the area of dental implants, where I believe the United States has over 40 systems worldwide over 200 systems. And each system needs a different component and a different part. How do you retrieve that data? If you’re not on a cloud based system? I just think it’s going to be a nightmare for the offices in the patients. Do you see that to future customers or existing customers realize that huge advantage? Yeah, I think for all different types of examples, I think that’s a great one, access to data is super important, whether it be real time access to data. If you are, like I said, traveling to a separate office for historical access to data, an example I can think of as talking to a client the other day, who was looking for some records out of their old system that was seven years old that they’ve converted over to denticon. Because we’ve converted all of the data and and all the legacy treatment data, they were able to go and pull all the whole series of X rays, all the treatment data, all the progress notes from that patient, and be able to present it very simply and be able to share it with other people that were also in their practice. So absolutely. I think that access to data is a key key thing that’s going to drive cloud adoption in the future. And you mentioned during the introduction that denticon had basically three components. And you mentioned basically this dental component.

Could you talk a little bit about the other two to educate our listeners tonight. Yep. So the way the way to think about denticon denticon is the core system of record and patch management software. We also have Apteryx imaging, which is a sensor agnostic cloud based capture and viewing imaging software, it’s integrated super tightly with denticon. And then we have leg work, which is a patient relationship management software. So it’s similar to some of the other software in the market revenue, well, solution reached demand for us, but its focus is more on new patient acquisition, we found through through speaking to a lot of our larger DSOs and MSOs. One of the challenges they’ve had is understanding how when they’re spending marketing dollars that actually results not only in the number of patients that come in the practice, but what those patients actually do in the practice. It’s digital marketing, which is something as a software as a service company, we we we try to be very good and efficient at we’re starting to see some trends in dental where some of the the large organizations are being super thoughtful around, I’m spending this much in digital ad buys, or I’m spending this much in, in SEO and ultimately, what is that marketing spend resulting not in not only in terms of patients that are coming to the practice, but what they’re doing in the practice. So by using legwork, you’re able to get a sense not only of how those patients are interacting with the practice, but ultimately tying the spend to bring those patients to the practice, and ultimately what those patients do in the practice, which allows you to determine a clear ROI.

And something like your management system for legwork? Is it an additional add on fee? Is it a licensed per office? Is it per computer? How does the mechanics and the finance of that work? For content? Con? Yep, great question. So it’s typically on a per location basis. It is an add on there is some functionality that I mentioned related to appointment ng on an appointment in two forms and such they’re typical of a patient relationship management software that is native to denticon, included in the denticon price. But usually it’s an add on subscription for folks that are that are interested in getting full visibility into how marketing is performing.

And I’m not sure if I’m accurate on this, but with the Denta con is is something like a lighthouse. Is that a competitive product? Is that a product that you’ve now sort of integrated with legwork? How does that work? I know sometimes, through my different experiences, one hand doesn’t always talk to the other end and sometimes one and talks better to one and then another here? Can you just talk about that for a few moments? Sure. So like legwork is similar to a lighthouse, where legwork different we think like work is different than a lighthouse is in its focus on the marketing piece. So what Lighthouse solution reached demand for us all of the patient engagement platforms as they used to be known, I think they’re moving more into patient relationship management platform exists primarily because most of the software in the market PMS software in the market, like eaglesoft and dentrix. Don’t do basic email messages and appointment reminders. So we believe and denticon is super functional in this regard. That the core system of record or your practice management software should be able to send a text message reminder or send an email reminder. So as you think about the functionality that a lighthouse provides that exists within denticon to allow basic communication to your patients, where we think legwork is differentiated, although it does a lot of the same function.

I that lighthouse does is really around that new patient acquisition. And it’s thinking about how I’m spending money to bring patients, either new patients in the practice, or reactivate patients that haven’t been in the practice for a while through some of the digital marketing activities. So the way I think about it is legwork is kind of a lighthouse. It’s a more marketing focused lighthouse. And a lot of functionality that exists within a lighthouse exists within the practice management software. Now, Danica, I know you don’t want to represent a company that’s not yours. But for our listeners, would it be redundant to have both systems? Or would you would you say that that’s beneficial, or basically legwork and pretty much do everything plus a little extra. So if most dentists that I know are always watching your bottom line, perhaps that one system would do a little bit more and give you a little more bang for your dollar. Yeah, so the way I think about it is, whereas an eagle soft plus a lighthouse is equal to a full denticon. And if you wanted to put legwork on top of a denticon, you would get additional marketing functionality related to patient acquisition.

So as things are moving to the cloud, as you mentioned, some of the additional benefits of the cloud is you have all of the native functionality within a single platform. There’s analytics, there’s patient engagement, there’s forums, there’s there’s online appointment, and all of these things exist through an ecosystem of different products, when you’re using something that’s on premise, like, like an eagle soft. If you’re using a denticon, you get all of that core functionality within the system, the practice management software. So using a denticon allows you to eliminate a lot of the other products that you’re that you’re using with other with other vendors and just have one core practice management software that allows you to do all the same things.

Well, I’d like to think that all of my podcasts are non biased, I don’t pump or push any products, I let those products speak for themselves. And I believe our listeners are shrewd enough to determine what works for them. In this particular case, I do want to say as I mentioned earlier, in the podcast, I have been a customer, although I’ve never met you or spoke to you, for I believe in excess of 15 years, your support staff has been wonderful. Your product has been wonderful. And it allowed me to purchase over 30 dental practices over the last 40 years to grow into a fairly large and successful DSO and continue to practice with a lot less stress in my life, and a lot less expensive cost. In closing for this podcast. Could you mention something that you see in the future? Are there things that your company and you are working on? That could be a real boon to the dental profession? Are there things out in the future that you’re saying, Wow, this is really nice. We just got a, you know, do a couple of tweaks here and there. And we’re going to be showing that to the dental profession and medical professionals. Yeah, well, first of all, thank you very much for that, those kinds of words. And that endorsement, our our mission is to unleash dentists to focus on patient care. So it sounds like we’ve moved to some degree fulfilled that and allows you to scale and appreciate that very much.

I think an interesting area where we’re just on the precipice of starting to kind of experiment is around AI and AI is, is in dentistry is focused primarily around imaging pathologies. There’s some partners that we are we do work with that are identifying things like bone loss and caries. And and I think that that’s one area where we’re our imaging product is starting to show some progress. But I think what’s more interesting about being a cloud based product with a large data set is the ability to run artificial intelligence algorithms on that data set itself. So an example might be in the future. And we’re we’re very early to this. But this is where I think the world is going is if you looked at a set of images across your entire practice, you could identify all of the treatment that that hasn’t actually been performed, communicate through the practice management software, to all the patients that have treatment that the AI identifies that they need to come in the office for treatment. And so the integration between the AI imaging pathologies and the practice management system is really powerful. We’ve also looked at ways to to use AI and specific machine learning to identify patterns within treatment to help support and some of the decisions that the doctor is making the practice so there’s AI the industry has a lot of buzz right now I think most of it is support. Most of most of the buzz is happening on the imaging side. But given the fact that we have a large dataset across both imaging and traditional practice data, we’ve got a unique opportunity to present some additional AI use cases that we think the industry will find very exciting.

Well, Eric, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you, as we come to a close, is there a way for our listeners to contact? How would they best reach out for a demonstration, or to hear from your sales force, if there’s an interest in acquiring your product or learning more about it? So focusing, go to www dot planet dds.com. Or they can info email us at info at Planet dds.com. And we’ll respond within the hour. That’s terrific, Eric, I can’t thank you enough for taking time. You’ve got a wonderful company and you’ve got a great team behind you. And I can vouch for that. Personally. I want to thank our listeners, you’ve been listening to acsent dental solutions. My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin. There’s a focus on knowledge, education, development and training. And as I close again, a special thanks to our sponsors, Henry Schein, dental supply, Patterson Dental supply and vocal supplies, equipment and materials. Thank you all for listening. I look forward to speaking to you in the near future.

E147: Dental Support Organizations and Managed Support Organizations

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E146: Autonomy vs. Insurance Company

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E145: Interview with Stephanie Walker, CEO of Erbe Wealth – Part 2

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E144: Interview with Stephanie Walker, CEO of Erbe Wealth – Part 1

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E143: Interview with Joel Dearing – Part 2 (May 27)

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E142: Interview with Joel Dearing – Part 1 (May 13)

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