Three simple steps can help protect your financial security:
- Ensuring that the clinical dentistry you provide
- is correctly posted to the patient’s account
- Posting fees and payments to the proper account
The vast majority of offices depend on administrative staff to properly safeguard the financial health of the practice. As we all know, with technology advances in practice management, patient data is often siloed into multiple systems that do not interact. This provides innumerable ways for a dishonest individual to steal income in small “unnoticeable” increments that can quickly aggregate to hundreds of thousands of dollars in embezzled funds. It is very important that dentists and loyal staff implement and monitor proven internal financial controls to prevent the possibility of jeopardizing their livelihoods.
The following efforts are low-cost or free, and can be implemented relatively quickly:
1. You can perform a fast, inexpensive audit yourself. If your practice is large, run reports that provide you with the following data:
- For each location and provider, pull 15 random patient charts from the past month’s schedule. Confirm that the treatment
performed was posted to each patient’s account and check to see that that patient’s payment (check or cash) was posted both to his or her account and the bank deposit. Then, confirm that the bank receipts reflect the same amount as the daily in-house deposit amount.
- If you do not find any discrepancies in these 15 patient records, your practice is probably clear of embezzlement activity from patient accounts, although this is never guaranteed
- Plan on performing the 15-patient chart audit each week. At the end of your audit, leave the charts at the front desk. Add a note stating you are finished with your audit and the charts can be fi led. If you are paperless, tell your CPA and office manager that you are logging in to review patient records regularly. This is a very non-threatening way of notifying your staff that you review records for your own follow-up needs. It is best if you do not detail these specifics to your staff.
- Support this brief audit process by having your bank statements sent to your home.
2. Lock down your internal controls. The following are essential to creating self-sustaining fraud prevention in your practice:
- Segregate bookkeeping duties between employees to eliminate total financial access by any one employee.
- Control adjustments, write-offs and refunds by reviewing all adjustments and each entry of your monthly adjustment report.
- Implement strict cash processing rules with segregated receivables/deposit personnel.
3. Implement financial monitoring services.
For example, Practice SafeGuard™ is a financial monitoring platform designed by Certified Fraud Examiners who combine a unique array of clinical dentistry and global intelligence expertise. Practice SafeGuard™ will allow you to monitor and protect your income in a convenient way. It’s a web tool that retrofits to your entire accounting history and alerts any device you carry to extreme or unusual transactions, so that you can respond to potential issues instantly. Please visit www.PracticeSafeGuard.com to learn more.
Some of these processes cost nothing to implement compared with the potential loss of thousands. Closely analyze your monthly reports in open view of your staff. Letting your staff members see you pore over the books is not to imply a lack of trust, but to demonstrate that you have an active role in the administration of the business.