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Mission Critical – Embezzlement and Theft Is Your Dental Software at Risk?

(Article 1 in Series)

A dental office is an active place of business.  During the day treating the health care needs of your patients comes first.  As the dentist is the primary healthcare provider who has the responsibility for the delivery of patient care monitoring the business aspect of our practice is a challenging task.

Theft and embezzlement is all too real in the economics of a dental practice.  We have heard too many stories regarding a trusted and valued employee committing acts of theft in a practice.  Sadly, a lot of these acts go unreported giving the perpetrator the ability to commit these crimes over and over.

There are ways to protect your practice from embezzlement.  No system however is perfect.  Cost benefit, the operational nature of the office (size, staff, insurance-based vs fee for service) and the dental owner all impact the development of a system to protect your financial livelihood.

We recommend to our client a review of their dental software as the first step in establishing checks and balances to reduce the risk of embezzlement.  Retain a Dental Software Consultant (“DSC”) to review the dental software.  Reliance on internal staff although seemingly very cost effective does not give you the independent review of your dental software that is so critical in establishing financial controls in your practice.

The DSC should be well versed in your dental software; always ask for references and get an idea of the project scope and the fees involved.  The DSC should work with your Dental CPA to create a system the maximizes your oversight and reduces your risk of embezzlement.

In addition to achieving the goal of strengthening your financial controls you should also be able to gain benefit from the analysis as it relates to your internal systems and procedures to increase your internal efficiencies and improve your practice.  SMALL IS BIG – several small changes can result in a substantial positive impact on your practice.

The goal is for you to have a better understanding of the dental software in your practice and establish a robust oversight function.  All software can be manipulated and adjusted.  Too many times have we heard the story where the dental owner placed too much trust in an employee who was well versed at masking their trail and covering their tracts in their embezzlement scheme.

When we consult with young dentists purchasing practices for the first time we always recommend that they gain an understanding of their dental software.  We believe that a dental owner with some specific training and instruction in the dental software and systems will develop the skills to significantly reduce the risk of embezzlement and theft.  Properly trained one hour of the Dentist’s time can equal three hours of any outside consultant.

The review of your dental software is just once element in creating an overall system to protect your practice at our firm we have an integrated model the “Dental Embezzlement Barrier” which is an integrated approach to combating embezzlement in a dental office

No system can guarantee 100% protection from a determined fraudster in your midst who not only has a high level of operational knowledge about your dental software but also socially engineers their relationship with you, your family and the rest of your dental team.

As Benjamin Franklin once penned “An Ounce of Prevention is worth a pound of cure” this axiom applies to the approach in the dental office when it comes to protection your livelihood.  Establish the barriers in your practice to thwart the fraudster.  Put in place controls and oversight so that the criminal element avoids your practice.