News Feature | May 28, 2015

From ASCII Chicago: MSP Opportunities In The Dental Vertical

jim roddy

By Jim Roddy, VP of Marketing, RSPA

MSP Opportunities In The Dental Vertical

Solutions providers yearn for in-depth education at industry conferences, and those who listened to C.J. Ezell, CEO of managed services provider PointClear Networks, at the ASCII Success Summit in Chicago Thursday got what they were looking for.

Ezell’s presentation to the 100+ channel executives at the Chicago Hyatt Regency O’Hare ballroom was titled “Adding Dental Integration to Your Managed Services Practice.” Ezell provided an overview of the dental vertical and how MSPs can enter this niche.

The primary reason Ezell finds the dental vertical attractive is because each practice is technology dependent. “If their network goes down, their whole practice stops,” Ezell explained. “They have monitors everywhere, they have expensive hardware, and everything connects to the network.”

Ezell provided a list of key technologies that solutions providers should be familiar with. “You won’t touch all these machines, but you need to know about them because they’re attached to the network,” he said.

  • Practice management software. “It’s similar to the PSA (professional services automation) software we use in our businesses every day. It’s the core of everything they do.” Practice management software doesn’t just track data and projects; it helps the dental practice improve the customer experience. “The office keeps photos of each patient on file, and when the receptionist hovers over the names on the appointment list, they see that photo so the patient can be welcomed by name when they enter. Dentistry isn’t just about treating patients. It’s about marketing.”
  • Imaging software. The primary purpose of this is to manage X-rays.
  • Internal camera. This looks like a pen, but it’s really a dental tool with a camera that produces an image.
  • Digital X-ray sensors. Ezell said, “Remember how they used to stick sharp film in your mouth to take an X-ray? Then you’d have to wait 15 minutes for them to develop it. They don’t need to do that anymore. That’s a thing of the past. This is like a USB device and it replaces the film. It immediately creates an image on the computer screen.”
  • Digital panoramic X-ray machines.
  • Dental CAT scan. “This is used to create 3D-like images,” Ezell said. “It’s becoming the standard of care now because of implants. This scanner allows them to see the nerve in the jaw and how far they can drill down.”
  • CAD/CAM machine. “This is a 3D printer for dentistry,” Ezell said. “It designs a 3D mock-up of the crown and then sends it to a 3D printer in the office which creates the actual crown.”

As experienced solutions providers know, breaking into a vertical market is usually a struggle. Ezell listed three key steps for entering the dental market:

  1. Learn who the players are — and understand some of these suppliers will compete with you.  Ezell listed Patterson Dental, Henry Schein, Benco Dental, Carestream Dental, Burkhart Dental, and Atlanta Dental as key players. “You need to build a relationship with the sales reps from these companies because they are in the dental office all the time,” he said. “They’re the guys who come in the back door because the staff is so familiar with them. You don’t want to fight with them.”
  2. Learn the lingo. “We understand what the dentist does and what his staff does,” Ezell said. “That gives us a huge advantage over an MSP who’s done just one or two dental installs. At the start, we took to the time to ask some dentists to show us how their office works – who does what and how all the machines connect.”
  3. Build relationships.

MSPs in the audience asked Ezell how dental IT purchases are financed and how he prices his offerings for the dental vertical. “Oftentimes the vendor allows them (the dental practice) to bundle what we do with large hardware purchase and finance it that way,” he said. “We’ve also moved toward a leasing model where the dentist gets new hardware from us every 36 months. This sets us up for a long-term relationship with them.”

Ezell said for pricing his offering, he charges per computer and per server. “But you can do it any way you want,” he said. “You’ll get a feel the more dentists you work with.”

Ezell warned that while the dental vertical has been lucrative for his MSP, not every dentist office is a fit. “You know a dentist is cheap when you walk into their office and it looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 1980s,” he said. “It’s hard to get money from these dentists.”

The ASCII Success Summit – Chicago is being held May 27-28 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Chicago. It is one of eight solution provider-focused conferences ASCII will host in 2015. For more information on ASCII, go to