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.

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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.