You’ve heard the rumors – “Dr. So-and-So was embezzled.” You’ve read the statistics “Over 60% of dentists will experience embezzlement during their career.” So, what do you do to cut the chances from it happening in your office? Here are my 6 recommendations:
- Use passwords – Dentrix allows you to set up an individual password for each dentist and employee, so use them! Tell your staff scary stories of tales you’ve heard about how sharing passwords can get them fired – what if another team member knows your password and the two of you have a falling out? That person can log into Dentrix using your password and do terrible things – that will be tracked right back to you. Don’t let this happen. Never share a password. Plus, set one month every year where every employee (and dentist) must change their password. Yes, we know it’s a pain in the neck – do it anyway.
- Assign specific password rights to each employee – You can assign specific rights to each staff person. Look at the list and only assign the rights that the staff person needs. For example, deleting rights in Dentrix are reserved for only the top level secretaries – why would any clinical staff person need to delete anything? This is an easy way to reduce your exposure to problems.
- Run your adjustments report – and do your research. In Dentrix’s Practice Analysis you can run an adjustment report for any clinical provider. Run this report for all your providers for all amounts for a month – it will show you the patient name and the $$ amount as well as the type of adjustment entered into Dentrix. Start at the top of this report and look into each adjustment – do you offer a 10% senior citizen’s discount? Then go into the ledger for your patients that show up with senior citizens discounts and check the math – is the adjustment for 10%? If it’s for 20%, you should find out why. Were there any large adjustments – over $100? You should know why for each one. Look at the insurance withhold discounts – to check these, get a copy of the patient’s insurance EOB and then make sure their withhold matches the one entered into your computer. Again, this takes a fair amount of time, but what if you did this one month out of each quarter – and you knew that no one was using adjustments as a way to cover their tracks and steal from the practice?
- Run the audit trail – If you suspect something strange on one of your adjustments, then run the audit trail report in Dentrix. This report is a serious tree-killer because it shows you every transaction made by every staff/dentist in Dentrix at the exact time. It will show you every moved appointment time, every scheduled appointment, every note added. So – see if you can target by date this audit trail report and then you can scan it, not just looking for the strange adjustment, but also in general you can see what your staff is doing on Dentrix throughout the day.
- Listen when your patients complain – the next time you have a patient that complains saying that they already paid you, so why are they still getting a bill? Or upset that the insurance paid more than expected so why isn’t the dentist sending more money back to the patient? Listen carefully to the concern and check the Dentrix ledger for this patient. Does the story the patient tell match the ledger? This is a great way to catch embezzlement – listen to your patients who keep track of their insurance and finances and take the time to contact you when they believe an error has occurred – they may be right.
- The last way to reduce your risk of embezzlement is to compare staff hours worked vs. their schedule in Dentrix. Padding hours is an easy way to steal from a practice. You can easily sit down and scan through your Dentrix schedule for your clinical staff to compare when they saw patients and what hours they earned in payroll. Do you have a policy for having a staff person leave early if a patient no shows? Look for this on the schedule – and then check the staff’s timeclock for that day – what time did they actually leave? If they didn’t have a patient for the last hour of the day – what did they do?
Take steps now to reduce dental embezzlement risk
Although there’s no way to guarantee that your practice won’t become a victim of embezzlement, there are steps you can take. Dental embezzlement is more than a crime against the dentist. It’s stealing from all the honest, hard-working staff who may have achieved bonus if the financial goals for the practice were being met. It’s an abuse of trust for everyone in the office. By investing some time and following these recommendations, you can at least make it difficult for someone to steal from you. Is it worth it?
Taking steps to reduce your risk of dental embezzlement is just one way to run a successful dental practice. If you’re interested in new ideas on running a dental practice, please subscribe to my weekly blog:
One of the biggest challenges to managing a dental practice is managing dental insurance. With dental insurance handled, then dental marketing for new patients becomes a primary focus. In today’s day of online reviews, handling patient complaints well is essential. As your practice grows, hiring dental staff becomes more important. With 16+ years of dental practice management experience, I’m open to your questions to help you run a successful dental office.
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