How to fight fraud in your dental office
As a new dentist, there are plenty of issues to worry about.
But one is a thing you might not expect.
“I never thought much about it,” said Dr. Andrea Fallon, a new dentist who is a partner in a practice in a suburb of Springfield, Massachusetts.
But it took an instance shortly after she started practicing when she
realized the reality. Dr. Fallon was an associate when a dental assistant at her practice was fired after the head dentist learned that the assistant had been daily padding her hours on her time sheet.
“To be honest, I am quite a trusting person,” Dr. Fallon said.
“So it was really hard for me to believe that someone would do it. When it did happen, although I was not an owner of the practice, I was involved, and it infuriated me. This one instance has caused me to be a little more diligent in keeping track of things.”
As a dentist, it is natural that you want to focus on dentistry, rather than managing the day-to-day financial details. You would prefer to leave these duties to your staff.
But it is important to always pay close attention to the business side of your practice.
Smart hiring practices can help to minimize the possibility for fraud. The ADA, in its manual “Protecting Your Dental Office From Fraud and Embezzlement,” recommends the following be considered once your staff is in place:
• Separate duties so that no one person handles both patient payments and
bank deposits. If possible, have the dentist make all bank deposits.
• Do daily audits by looking at every check, explanation of benefits and patient visit. Review every posted transaction on the day sheet. Run a check register daily and compare it to the daily deposit slip.
• Set a good example.
• Create a climate of accountability.
• Prosecute if you are defrauded. Prevent this person from moving on to another office.
• Listen carefully to patient complaints.
“If your staff feels appreciated and rewarded for good work, they won’t want to take from your practice,” Dr. Fallon said. “Keep them happy, because if they are happy you will be too — with a lot less stress. I guess it all boils down to whom you hire, so make sure that every person on the team is pulling in the same direction. Set goals with rewards for your team to keep them engaged and feeling like if the practice thrives, they thrive too.”
To order the free-for-members manual “Protecting Your Dental Office From Fraud and Embezzlement,” visit ebusiness.ADA.org and type “avoiding fraud” in the search engine.