5 Tips to Prevent, Detect and Deter Fraud in your Dental Practice

Run your practice like you did when
you first owned it.
  Do you
remember when you first purchased your practice and cash was tight?  You had a huge loan payment, payroll to worry
about, equipment to purchase, and a waiting room that needed some final
touches.  You not only knew your daily
production, you knew how much you were supposed to collect and when you were
supposed to collect it.  You had your finger
on the pulse of your practice and your staff knew it.  Don’t relax too much as your practice grows;
stay on top of the business side of your practice. 
Engage a Dental CPA to do more than
just prepare your tax return. 
Your CPA should be engaged to closely
review your financial information at least twice a year.  A detailed analysis of your financials
including percentage and ratio comparisons may reveal production, adjustments,
collections or expense relationships that just don’t make sense and may
indicate possible fraud.   In addition, Dental CPA’s can compare your
practice results with industry benchmarks and can help investigate areas that
are out of line with industry norms.   If
you’re only consulting with your CPA at tax time you should consider upgrading
your services.
Pay Close Attention to the behavior
of your front desk staff.   
The greatest opportunity for embezzlement in your practice is
by your front desk staff.  There are countless schemes that can be
perpetrated by these trusted employees.  If your front desk person is extremely
territorial so much that they avoid taking vacations, become upset when someone
attempts to use their computer or hostile with outside consultants hired to
improve practice results – you may have a fraud concern.   In addition, if your front desk person seems to
be living beyond their means; you should take notice.  There may be a perfectly reasonable
explanation for why your front desk person is driving the latest model BMW, is
wearing the latest designer fashions straight off of a New York runway and carrying
the latest designer handbags.  They could simply be gifts.  You just need to make sure they’re not gifts
from you.
Have a Strong “Tone at the Top”.   As the practice owner you are setting
the ethical climate of your company.  Include
an ethics statement in your employee handbook as well as written fraud policies
and procedures.  Discuss fraud concerns
openly with your staff in a non-accusatory manner and inform them that fraud
will not be tolerated in your practice.  Let
employees know that if they embezzle, you will catch it.
Implement Bonus & Incentive
Employees that feel valued and fairly
compensated are less likely to find other ways to increase their earnings.  Set
achievable goals for staff and reward outstanding performances with periodic
bonuses or gift cards from a favorite store or restaurant. Not only will these
programs increase staff productivity, they’ll also increase staff morale.

If you’d
like to further discuss any fraud concerns within your practice or are
interested in engaging a Dental CPA for ongoing accounting or tax services,
please contact me, Kim Conlin, CPA, FCPA at kconlin@nlgroup.com.