Protecting your dental practice from fraud is an important step every practice owner needs to take. This is particularly important as technology continues to advance. Reporting and monitoring programs are improving fraud protection for dentists, but would-be thieves are advancing, too. While it’s difficult to completely protect yourself from fraud, it is possible to increase safeguards.
Implement an External Review Process
As one dental practice consultant described, isolating your financial and technological processes can make it easier for employees or contractors to commit fraud. She shares a story about a client with a long-time employee who embezzled $800,000.
This occurred because there was no external monitoring system in place. Once this consultant dug into the reports, she found outstanding bills, widely varying collections, and other red flags.
An external review process includes a CPA, lawyer, and advisors with fraud experience. Some dental practices choose to have an internal bookkeeper, who then works with their accountant on a regular basis. Having this external accountant offers a fail-safe when working with finances.
Take Advantage of All Reporting Options
Business software like Quickbooks offers a number of reporting options, and these can help you spot possible fraud. Make sure you know how to pull these reports and do so on a monthly basis.
By reviewing these reports regularly, you’ll be more likely to recognize irregular trends. Some may only be noticeable after some time, so don’t just pull the month’s report. Look at the past three to six months as well.
Pay Attention to Employees
From a company culture perspective, this helps build teamwork. From a fraud perspective, knowing your employees’ lives can show red flags early. While it’s hard to think that long-term employees would consider stealing from your practice, it does happen.
In order to help minimize the risk, pay attention to major life changes like family illness financial difficulties. These changes may push employees to make decisions they may otherwise not make.
Important: It’s Not Just Financial Fraud
Fraud protection for dentists is more than embezzling money, and it can significantly impact your reputation and career. If certification forms are filled out incorrectly by staff, it could be considered fraud. A practice owner’s personal and business reputation was damaged because an incorrectly-completed form allowed their entry into a large organization.
Once this was discovered, state officials charged them for filing false credential applications. The staff member was fired, but the dentist suffered long-term repercussions.
While these points may place unfair pressure on your employees, it’s essential to be careful with who you trust. Fraud protection for dentists begins with you. Employees have access to a great deal of information on your practice and patients, and some may choose to make a poor decision. Protecting your information, running regular reports, and getting to know your employees will all help ensure you’re protecting your dental office from fraud.