How do you know if you are a victim?
As a successful practice owner, practicing dentist, and healthcare provider, I’m sure your plate is already full. You hardly have time to sit back and enjoy the moment. You love being a dentist and helping patients overcome the fear of the dentist along with providing them with a beautiful smile. Your office is growing, the patients are happy, and your employees enjoy working for you. What could possibly be wrong, until you notice your collections are not as high as they should be. You start to notice some loose ends and unhappy customers. Patients begin to leave your practice. Only a few short months ago, everything was well. Now it seems like things are slipping through your fingers and you can’t seem to figure out why.
Statistics say that one out of every five dentists become victims of fraud within their own practice. Think about it. According to the Utah.gov website, there are 11,900 dental professions within the state of Utah alone. That is 2,380 dentists that will become or already are victims of fraud. This number may or may not make you start questioning your practice. The point of this article isn’t to scare you into thinking you are having money taken from right under your nose, it is to help you be aware of the signs and issues that could arise.
Let’s back up a minute here. I always try to look for the best in people, and I wholeheartedly feel that people are generally good. Unfortunately, there are always a few bad apples that fall from the tree. If you think this may be happening to you, there are certain signs you can always look for. Keep in mind, mistakes are made and a lot of the time, the person who made the mistake does not realize it, and continues to make the mistake over and over again. For example; you have a successful practice and your patients are happy with you. You feel like you have a high production number daily, but when the reports come out you notice the numbers are not matching up. When you look further into it, you notice balance’s on patients accounts are simply being written off, instead of being collected. This money isn’t disappearing, it is just not being brought back into the practice. Your office manager may have simply been confused and assumed that you write off balance’s once the insurance claim comes back. In her mind, a few dollars on each account may not seem like a lot, but a few dollars adds up quickly. You find the problem, and it is resolved quickly. There was no foul play, just a misunderstanding. Now say that money really is being collected, but it does not match up with the reports, what do you do then?
It is always smart to have fail safes in place, a system of checks and balances per say. One way is for you, the dentist to personally make sure each account is correct. This is unrealistic and not efficient at all, but is a possibility. You can hire a financial adviser to follow any discrepancies. Again, it may not be worth the time or money, but it could work. There are companies out there to help with fraud protection, and they may be useful. Our advice to you is to have multiple eyes constantly checking and rechecking everything. If a question arises, they can then come to you as the business owner. With multiple people watching these accounts, it is more difficult for someone to get themselves into a sticky situation. Fraud is a serious issue and can easily be prevented. When dealt with correctly, you could never have to deal with it again. You can have that weight lifted off your shoulders, and practice dentistry peacefully.