From All Perspectives: An Interview with Darius Somekhian

From All Perspectives: Synergy Specialists is Connecting and Integrating Dental Specialists with General Dentists

A single side of any story can never reveal the entire picture. This concept holds true for biographies, historical events, and even the life of a company. Multiple perspectives show more of the narrative, revealing motivations, accomplishments, and future goals.

We’re taking an in-depth look at Synergy Specialists, a support agency helping traveling specialists as a matchmaker as well as a resource center connecting them with general dentists. To see a fuller picture, three key individuals will tell Synergy Specialists’ story: CEO Darius Somekhian, Dr. Shervin Molayem, and Dr. Shanne Sastiel.

Darius Somekhian is a business development strategist who began working in the dental industry at the age of 18 from the trunk of his car selling latex examination gloves from dental office to dental office. He grew his company to over $15 million in annual revenue, then transitioned to the corporate side of dentistry after being acquired by Benco Dental in 2012. During this time, he built an incredibly comprehensive network of relationships in the industry. Darius completed his undergraduate studies at UCLA and is currently the CEO of Synergy Specialists and The Synergy Academy.

Darius, Synergy Specialists’ mission is “to fully support and integrate premier dental specialists with general dentists in one office.” Could you explain this goal a bit more?

“Sure. Our job is to market the concept of in-house specialists to general dentists. In essence, we act as a matchmaker between these dental care providers. Synergy Specialists screens each party, filtering candidates to ensure an excellent fit.”

One of your personal axioms is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So you saw a need for these kinds of matchmaking services in the dental industry?

“Yes, we have found that general dentists can greatly benefit from bringing in specialists. At one end are dentists who are nearing retirement and have been referring out dental specialty cases for decades. Their specialist colleagues may have already retired. These dentists are in need of dependable specialists who they can turn to in order to help increase profits in preparation for retirement and still be assured of excellent patient care.”

“At the other end are young dentists who are just beginning their careers. These professionals are often burdened with massive debt from dental school and buying a practice. They may also have personal debt from starting a family. These young dentists are sometimes only able to survive financially by bringing in specialty dentists to increase the production level of their practice. Having access to specialists can allow them to get their head above water and pay off their debt.”

“On the specialist side, it is not at all uncommon for specialists to come out of their training programs with half a million dollars of debt. They obviously are searching for a practice to join, but only around 20% are able to find what they need due to simple supply and demand. Even the fortunate 20% usually do not receive the option to purchase the practice eventually. As a result, the specialists earn far less than what they could as a traveling provider.”

Once a match is made between a general dentist and a specialist, how is the schedule set up?

“Typically, the specialist will visit the general dental practice one day per month. The general dentist makes the diagnosis, and then the specialist comes in for the procedure or consultation. Of course, this varies according to specialty.”

“So there is an element related to the periodontists’ chairside manner and their ability to make the patient feel comfortable moving forward with the treatment the same day as the consult.”

What about specialized equipment? Who is responsible for providing this?

“Our specialists bring the majority of necessary equipment themselves. They work as an independent contractor to the general dentist, so they arrive with membranes, bone graft, surgical motors, rotary files, etc. In other words, they provide their own specialized – and usually more expensive – equipment that a general dentist may not have on hand.”

Regarding additional personnel, who provides the assistants?

“The general dentist is expected to line up the assistant for back office sterilization and the chairside assistant, except in cases where IV sedation is required. In those situations, the oral surgeon would bring in their own chairside assistant while still working with the dental assistants at the general dental practice.”

“But if the oral surgeon encounters problems securing a sustainable surgical chairside assistant, then Synergy Specialists will certainly assist in sourcing a qualified assistant.”

Do the specialists have their own liability insurance?

“Absolutely. All of our specialists carry their own liability policies. They are required to do so as independent contractors.”

Which party is responsible for follow-up care?

“The answer depends on the specialty and procedure. For example, the general dentist would usually handle a dry socket or suture removal. But in the case of a severe issue, like an abscess, the specialist would return to address the problem.”

Is Synergy Specialists Continuing to Expand?

“Yes. My dream and my vision are to have 1,000 offices working with our specialists. At this time, we have over 200 specialists registered. Of those, 75 of them are active in offices at least one day per month.”

“Synergy Specialists did not create this ripple, the need to connect specialists and general dentists, but we are riding the wave. Patients today want convenience, and they demand convenience. They are not going to drive two hours to see a specialist. Rather, they want the specialist to come to them.”

“Patients also do not feel comfortable going into an unfamiliar environment to undergo a surgical procedure. We eliminate this problem by allowing patients to receive treatment in comfortable, familiar surroundings. This drives patient satisfaction, which is, of course, a huge component of any practice’s profitability.”