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ADA Business Innovation Group (ADABIG) is a subsidiary of the American Dental Association (ADA), formed in 2018 to help dentists solve the industry’s most pressing challenges. In 2019, ADABIG launched its first service: ADA Practice TransitionsTM (ADAPT), a state-of-the-art online platform designed to help dentists navigate career transitions. Today ADAPT is helping more than 7,500 dentists across all 50 states buy or sell a practice, hire an associate, or find an associateship.

The ADAPT team accepts the 2021 Chicago Innovation Award

Research confirms that dentists desire a better way to buy and sell dental practices.

The historical process simply does not work for many retiring dentists trying to sell their practices because it is too regionally focused and cost prohibitive for dentists with smaller practices. Owners must sign exclusivity clauses that require them to pay broker commissions (around 10% of the value of a practice sale) — even if they find a buyer on their own.

Meanwhile, young dentists struggle to find practices that best align with their goals and approach to dentistry. Since most brokers operate geographically, this increasingly mobile generation may not find the perfect practice if it lies beyond their broker’s territory. These young dentists also struggle to get the mentorship they need to manage the business side of a practice.

The result? Many practices fail to find a buyer and ultimately shutter once the dentist retires, while others shut down within a few years of a sale. This is especially devastating in small towns served by a single dentist. Suddenly, patients must travel long distances for dental care. Faced with this choice, they often skip essential preventive care — causing bigger health problems down the road.

Dr. Cesar Sabates, ADA President, Dr. Suzanne Ebert, Vice President Dental Practice and Dr. George Shepley, ADA President Elect

ADAPT leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to support dental practice transitions. The technology works similar to a dating website. Dentists enter their personal information, practice details (size, typical procedures performed, etc), their philosophy of dental care, and their goals (buying, selling, hiring, or finding a job). Once the profile is complete, the algorithm delivers recommended matches for potential buyers, sellers, or new hires. ADAPT’s team of advisors add an essential human touch, acting as matchmakers and coaches as they pair dentists with complementary profiles and approaches to dental care.

While developing the platform, ADAPT explored what makes practice transitions successful, speaking with dentists who had bought and sold practices in recent years. These dentists overwhelmingly said that when two dentists share a common approach to dentistry, the transition is much more likely to succeed.

ADAPT calls this “philosophy of care,” and built its solution to match dentists on these tenets.

When a dentist joins the ADAPT platform, they complete an in-depth questionnaire that explores their philosophy of care. Dentists are given several scenarios about patient and staff relationships, their treatment approach, and their preferences. They’re asked if they want to make all the decisions or be more collaborative, whether they prefer a fast-paced office or a more methodical, slower pace. Do they prefer to invest in all the latest bells and whistles, or stick to tried-and-true technologies?

These types of questions help ensure that ADAPT matches are rooted in shared values and approaches. But ADAPT goes further, helping dentists prepare for every phase of the process, including options for critical professional resources such as practice valuation, legal, financing, real estate, marketing and other business categories. By combining better matches with end-to-end coaching, transition planning and integration workflows dentists – and practices – can thrive long after the transition, ensuring long-term continuity of care for patients and communities.

ADA Practice Transitions makes connections that drive growth and success across dentistry. The vision is to build the largest and most comprehensive network in the industry. The more people who participate, the more effective and efficient the machine learning process becomes. The more matches ADAPT creates, the better the algorithm becomes at identifying factors that lead to good matches.

Innovation is at the core of what ADA Business Innovation Group does, and it comes from close collaboration with people throughout the dental industry, at every career stage. After all, we all share a common goal: ensuring that patients everywhere have access to quality dental care. With ADAPT’s technology and processes, we’re making it easier for retiring dentists to transition their practice to the next generation.

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