Washington dental office manager gets 7-year prison term for theft of $560,000

michaelee roehrs

By Laura McVicker

Published: April 2, 2010, 12:00 AM

The former office manager of a Hazel Dell dental clinic accused of stealing more than $560,000 from the practice and illegally obtaining prescription painkillers was sentenced Thursday to seven years in prison.

A frail-looking Michaelee Roehrs, 66, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree theft and seven counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. The charges relate to her embezzling money from Sheron Dental between 2001 and 2008.

As part of a plea agreement, attorneys decided on an exceptional sentence of 84 months. Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle imposed the sentence Thursday.

Before sentencing, several people testified about the damage Roehrs’ actions had on the business, both financially and emotionally.

Dentist Richard Sheron detailed the extensive steps Roehrs took in her embezzlement, going so far as to use the names of dead relatives when she forged prescriptions for the narcotic hydrocodone.

She also deposited checks into her personal bank account and offered fake discounts to patients in order to get them to pay with cash, he said.

But the worst thing she did, Sheron said, was violate the trust of the family-owned business.

“For over 20 years, I thought Ms. Roehrs was a trusted friend,” Sheron said as he faced the judge. “But she was a thief.”

That violation of trust was one of the reasons why Clark County sheriff’s Detective Tom Mitchum called it “egregious.”

“It was by far one of the most prolific financial crimes I’ve ever investigated,” he said.

The embezzlement was uncovered in March 2008 after a new office worker looked at the business records and realized something was amiss. The dentist hired a forensic accountant, who could only research records back to 2001, when a new software program was installed.

Sheron Dental won a lawsuit in June 2008 that found Roehrs civilly liable for $562,239. Criminal charges were filed in July.

Roehrs has paid $20,000 so far in restitution, but Clark County Deputy Prosecutor Jeannie Bryant said the victims don’t expect the financially strapped defendant to pay much more.

Roehrs’ court-appointed attorney, Jeff Barrar, called the plea agreement a reasonable conclusion to a case that could have entailed a month long trial.

“For a frail woman of her age in poor health, it might be a life sentence,” he said.

After hearing the victim, the prosecutor and her attorney go into extensive detail about the allegations, Roehrs stood up to have her say. She denied the accusation that she hadn’t shown any remorse.

“I’m very sorry for what I did,” Roehrs said, breaking into tears. “I love Dr. Sheron. I love his family.”


Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

Content retrieved from: http://www.columbian.com/news/2010/apr/02/former-office-manager-gets-7-years-in-dental-clini/.

Honolulu woman has been sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $197,000 in restitution for stealing from her employer.

Hawaii dental employee sentenced for embezzlement

December 8, 2011 — A Honolulu woman has been sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay nearly $197,000 in restitution for stealing from her employer.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway sentenced Linda L.L. Chun, 50, of Honolulu this week after Chun pleaded guilty to a 17-count indictment that included bank fraud, mail fraud, embezzlement, and theft from an employee pension benefit plan.

Chun worked for a Honolulu dentist and gained unauthorized access to financial accounts from 2004 to 2007, according to prosecutors. She forged the dentist’s convenience checks, forged a renewal application for a bank home equity line of credit, used the mail to obtain a fraudulent disbursement of money from an employee pension benefit plan, and forged bank withdrawal slips, according to information produced in court.


Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

Content retrieved from: http://www.drbicuspid.com/index.aspx?sec=nws&sub=rad&pag=dis&ItemID=309317.

South Florida Check Fraud Victim Suing Wells Fargo Claims Bank Has No System to Track Who Cashes Checks

 


Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

South Florida Check Fraud Victim Suing Wells Fargo Claims Bank Has No System to Track Who Cashes Checks

Dr. Luis Fabelo says he lost close to half a million dollars and bank let it happen

(see related story here — https://www.prosperident.com/2016/09/16/florida-woman-convicted-500k-embezzlement-dentist/

Willard Shepard

Dr. Luis Fabelo says he’s the victim of check fraud and claims his bank, Wells Fargo, has no policy in place to verify who cashes checks and has filed a lawsuit. Det. Marcos Rodriguez also comments. For its part Wells Fargo said, “We deny the claims and will vigorously defend ourselves in this lawsuit.” (Published Friday, Sept. 6, 2013)

South Florida dentist Dr. Luis Fabelo says he lost “close to half a million dollars,” and thinks what happened to him can easily happen to others.

Fabelo said he’s the victim of an alleged fraud involving one of his former employees, and claims one of the area’s biggest banks doesn’t have procedures in place to stop her or anyone else.

Fabelo said he discovered that former employee Elizabeth De Leon was allegedly stealing hundreds of his checks, putting them in Wells Fargo ATM machines, depositing the money into her own accounts and cashing in.

Fabelo said he started taking a close look at his surveillance cameras when a patient alerted him that he never got credit for a payment he made.

“That led me to look at my surveillance camera and that’s when I saw the payment being taken by my former employee,” he said.

The woman the dentist saw on camera was De Leon, who is now facing charges of grand theft and organized fraud.  Police and Dr. Fabelo said she kept under the radar for months stealing checks that were clearly made out to the doctor, but deposited them in ATM machines at Wells Fargo — which Fabelo says let her put the money into her accounts.

“It shocked me that anybody can do that. Just imagine I write you a check.  Your purse gets stolen and that check can get deposited anywhere and it will go through,” Fabelo said. “Apparently there’s no way that Wells Fargo checks the checks.”

Fabelo said De Leon was part of his team and attended social functions – all the while she allegedly was deleting records that would have clued him in. He said no one at Wells Fargo was checking the ATM deposits.

“All this technology is great but it also has its drawbacks and these are the drawbacks,” Miami-Dade Police Det. Marcos Rodriguez said.

Detectives said that when De Leon stopped working for Dr. Fabelo that didn’t stop her from committing the same fraud at another dentist’s office.

Fabelo said when he asked the bank to give him the thousands stolen back they wouldn’t.  So now he’s suing in federal court alleging that “Wells Fargo has no system, policy, and/or procedure in place to verify the depositor/account holder, was entitled to cash the checks.”

His suit added that were it not for the “deficiencies in Wells Fargo’s ATM deposit procedures, Ms. de Leon would not have been able to deposit (i.e., steal) checks that had been made out to Dr. Fabelo and…his dental practice in her personal account.”

“I think it’s the banks responsibility to check,” Fabelo said.

For its part Wells Fargo said, “We deny the claims and will vigorously defend ourselves in this lawsuit.”

Police said the convenience of ATMs – and banking using smartphones — comes with a price.

“The quicker you can access your money, the quicker that other people can access the money from your accounts also. So it’s like a double-edged sword,” Rodriguez said.

The doctor’s lawsuit also said that Wells Fargo has intentionally deprived him of his funds.

De Leon is pleading not guilty to the charges and her attorney said he is just starting to build her defense.

Experts say in the big picture the message is to keep a close eye on your accounts, and there’s something to be said for a teller looking someone in the eye and asking for a driver’s license.

 Content retrieved from: http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/South-Florida-Check-Fraud-Victim-Suing-Wells-Fargo-Claims-Bank-Has-No-System-to-Track-Who-Cashes-Checks-220521611.html.

Jerry Jones — How to Create a Cash-Flow Surge Within 7 Days or Less

Guest Column — Jerry Jones helps solve a pressing problem for dentists
Jerry Jones is a relatively new friend of Prosperident, but his focus on marketing and ability to think outside the box intrigued us.  So We are pleased to welcome Jerry as a guest contributor.  Here are Jerry’s ideas on producing an immediate cash flow improvement, which is something many of our clients can benefit from.
Jerry’s web site is here.
How to Create a   Cash-Flow Surge Within 7 Days or Less
If you have your team implement what I am about to share, you’ll experience a cash flow surge in your practice in a matter of days.
In fact, the results have helped thousands of dentists I’ve worked with over the last 20 years get through tough cash flow crunches on more than one occasion. And, once you get the system in place, you can repeat this process once or twice a year and it can become part of a regular routine.
What I’m talking about is patient reactivation.
Inactive patients are a part of every practice – and it doesn’t matter just how great your team is at keeping patients active in your practice. In fact, here are two routine experiences every office has:
1.) Patients leave your office with a scheduled appointment and later cancel it. And this is where a lot of practices lose track of patients. Eventually, enough time lapses and even the patient forgets or willingly puts off calling back to schedule.
2.) There’s a system break-down (or lack of a system) and patients are not scheduled for a “next” appointment either by the DA checking them out, the hygienist or the front office person. In my office, Wellness Springs Dental® of Salem, the clinical staff makes the next appointment while the patient is sitting in the chair. An appointment card is filled out and provided to the pt. In hygiene, our patients fill out their own reminder postcard (oldest trick in the book, right?). You might think this is happening in your office, but have you checked recently? Have you physical proof?
In both instances above, that forgotten patient fits my definition of an inactive patient – someone lacking a next appointment. If they have no next appointment, how can you possibly call them active?
You see, dental practices offer one of the few professional, medical practices that offer the opportunity for continuity revenue. Physicians don’t have this luxury unless they’re doing injectables (Botox, etc.). In chiropractic, patients usually have a defined term of treatment that might only last weeks or at most, months. Shoot, even non-medical pros like attorneys, rarely have a business that require regular visits. CPAs are an exception. They usually hold on to their clients for a long period of time due in large part to the high pain level of disconnect.
In dentistry, we set up our patients to visit us every 3, 4 or 6 months (if you have a strong soft tissue management program, you probably have as many 3 month visitors as 6 month).
It’s a great model that promotes my favorite kind revenue: recurring revenue. Until that is, a patient falls through the cracks as in the instances above, and are without that next appointment.
Now, you might be saying at this point, “Jerry, so what? So what if I have 500 patients that are inactive and without a next appointment. Is it reallyworth all the trouble?”
YES. It’s absolutely worth the trouble. Here’s why:
First, it’s far easier to get treatment accepted by someone you have a relationship with, especially if they have treatment you’ve prescribed. It’s easy for your staff to use that prescribed treatment as a lever to increase “compliance” for those who’ve not been in to get treatment started (or finished), or, to get that check-up. Remember, they already, theoretically, know, like and trust you.
Second, it’s far easier to get a buyer (your patient) to buy again vs. going to the expense ($100 to $500 or more per new patient) of attracting a new patient and then take the time to develop a relationship and trust.
(Incidentally, increasing the frequency of visits/purchases of both inactive and active patients, is one of the easiest ways to increase your cash flow!)
So we’ve discussed the definition of an “inactive” patient, we’ve covered how patients fall through the proverbial cracks, so let’s take that next logical step and review the best way to reactivate these lost souls.
Step 1: Identify them. Run a report in your practice mgmt. software that tells you who does NOT have a next appointment. If you’re unsure how to do this, contact your software support. This is really critical and can save you hours of time. Otherwise, the back-up plan is to go back month-by-month and look at every patient that should have a next appointment. This is arduous, but, don’t discount it as unnecessary if you can’t get the report you want or something similar.
Step 2: Export the list to a format compatible with Excel, so you can edit, update and have easy access to phone numbers and emails.
Step 3: Create a “campaign” that your staff will follow-through with that will get these folks from inactive to active status.
After doing this for a couple decades, we’ve devised a simple formula for this reactivation campaign. It should consist of the following:
  • A personalized letter sent in a hand-addressed envelope with a “live” stamp
  • A postcard – hand-written
  • A phone call – personal, not using voice broadcast
  • An email or text message – personal, not an email broadcast
  • Final personalized letter
If you’re familiar with a “dunning” campaign, this is similar. Each contact with the inactive patient becomes more urgently presented. The first contact is casual. The postcard more urgent. The phone call, more so. The email or text or both, still more and then a final letter that explains the doctor is really concerned and at this time, you’ll leave it up to them.
My friend and Member, Dr. Chris Griffin of Ripley, MS, goes so far as to send a faux dental chart in the mail with a hand-scribbled note from him to his staff that the patient sees inside. The note conveys just how important that next appointment is and how concerned Dr. Griffin is over this patient being inactive.
All of these steps and the 100s of variations you could add, get the patient to understand just how important it is to get back to the office and get reactivated. (We also have articles written for patient newsletters that explain how to avoid becoming an “inactive” patient.)
You might also be wondering why we use direct mail, a phone call and email/text. Good question. The biggest reason: not everyone responds to the same media. So, by using different media/ways to reach them, you’ll actually reach more of them. So, skipping steps or attempting to get away with just a letter or just a phone call will inhibit your results.
The steps I mention above should be spaced no more than 7 to 10 days apart. All in, a campaign from start to finish should span no more than 60 days. Preferably, 45 days at the most.
I’ve had members tell me they’ve taken their inactive patients from as far back as five years, and had success reactivating them. (If you do this, reach out to me and I’ll explain how to avoid wasting hundreds of dollars or more, on postage and printing, by making sure you have your patients’ most recent addresses – since roughly 30% of your patient base moves annually.)
Is there some work involved? Yes. Of course. But, it’s work that has a direct, measurable, very fast payoff. What’s more, your patients will actually thank you for reaching out to them. They forget. They get busy. And, because dentistry is such a small slice of their life, often, unless pain is persistent, they’ll delay and, eventually just forget.
Do yourself a favor: get your inactive patients identified and reach out to them now.

Jonathan VanHorn — The Fifteen Numbers that Will Make (or Break) Your Dental Practice

Introducing Jonathan VanHorn
Jonathan VanHorn is certainly an interesting guy.  He is a CPA, but has moved beyond the traditional CPA bailiwick of “historical” work like P&Ls and income tax filing.
Jonathan has founded a company called Dentistmetrics and now uses his considerable financial knowledge to help dentists improve their financial outcomes.  The following is an article that he wrote for our newsletter.  Welcome, Jonathan!
The Fifteen Numbers that Will Make (or Break) Your Dental Practice
I finished a goal setting session with a client this morning, and as we were wrapping up my client said to me, “If I’d set these plans in motion five years ago, I’d be taking home nearly $15,000 more a month right now.  If only I had known what I didn’t know.”
Many dentists know that “stats”, “benchmarks”, and “KPIs” exist, but don’t know where to start looking for improvements.
This article covers three of the most important numbers I’ve compiled through my time as a dental coach and dental CPA.  These numbers should give you a starting point for your practice.  I’ve looked at a lot of dental practices and the practices that have mastered these numbers are typically the most successful in terms of profit.
I do want to emphasize that averages apply to everyone but no one at the same time. What does this mean?  It means don’t immediately get upset over your performance if you look at these stats and are underperforming.  It also means that just because you meet these three numbers, you aren’t guaranteed to be maximizing your potential.
The Three KEY Numbers for any Dental Practice
But wait, the title is “Fifteen” not “Three”! What gives? I’m only able to share three of these numbers in this article, BUT, if you’d like to see a free report with more than fifteen of these same statistics, including a mini-guide with precise information on how to really get value out of tracking your performance, visit http://dentistmetrics.com/prosperidentfor a copy of the full report.
#1 – Wages and Salaries including payroll taxes benefits (not including associates, or owner’s expenses)
Goal: 25% of net productions.  If you have stable and consistent earnings, you can use collections, but net productions are a better indicator overall.
Subgoal: Of the 25% compared to net productions, around 1/3rd should be hygiene. (around 8% to net productions)  That leaves 17% for the office manager, the front desk, and dental assistants.
Subgoal: For every $35,000 in monthly collections, you have one front office staff.
Where you should look if you don’t meet the standard:
  • Are you overstaffed?
  • Are you overpaying your employees?
  • Is this a production problem?
#2 – Dental Supplies
Big Picture Goal: 5% of net productions.
This can vary a bit depending on the services you offer.  But 5% is where you should set your sights.
If you need help on lowering your supply costs, I wrote a set of posts covering this exact topic which you can find here: How to lower your dental supply costs.
#3 – Hygiene Rule of Three:
·        Hygiene should equal 1/3rd the production for the practice.
·        Hygiene should be compensated at 1/3rd production.
·        Less than 3 hours a week unscheduled/cancelled hygiene scheduled per hygienist. (also called open hygiene)
If you don’t meet the standard:
  • What is your average daily production for each hygienist?
  • What is the average production per patient seen from each hygienist?
  • What is your recall efficiency? (How many hygiene patients reschedule?)
To recap:
The three base numbers every practice should keep track of are the three big picture stats here.  If you keep these numbers in line, you will have the basis for a fantastic practice.  However, this isn’t the end all be-all of every practice.
If you want more stats, such as:
  • The baseline goal per day for each hygienist.
  • The goal for each hygienist’s service.
  • How many new patients a day you need to aim for.
And more than 13 other KPI’s for dental practices, along with a step by step guide of how to look at these numbers check ou thttp://dentistmetrics.com/prosperident for a full report.

Andy Jensen — Bad Things Happen to Good Practices

In Praise of the Cloud
Andy Jensen is a very interesting guy.  He spent almost 20 years with Henry Schein in the software area before becoming the VP Marketing for Curve Dental, the upstart practice management software that has led the pack in the move to cloud-based computing.
We at Prosperident see major advantages to cloud-based practice management software and are thrilled to have Andy join our illustrious group of guest columnists.
Bad Things Happen to Good Practices
Bad things do happen, even to good people. Tornadoes have a funny way of indiscriminately targeting whatever gets in their path. National news of spring flooding seems to always surprise us. That last big hurricane made land fall without a care for you and your efforts to board up the practice. And something that affects us all: A thief in need of cash turns a blind eye to how often you volunteer at the local shelter.
Preparation for disaster is the key solution for every unfortunate incident. But there’s one big drawback: To prepare for uninterrupted service and a quick recovery the practice would need to spend oodles of money on equipment, configuration, line and power services, monitoring and continued maintenance to get the job done correctly. The amount of life energy and financial resources to spend on this problem makes it somewhat unreasonable for the dentist and their team to realize the perfect disaster recovery plan.
Fortunately, there is a solution that provides adequate protection and is financially reasonable: The cloud provides the overall best business continuity solution. In the event of a disaster the practice can regain access to ALL of its data in a matter of minutes. And the cost of utilizing a web-based application, both in terms of dollars and mindshare is a fraction of what it would be otherwise.
Take, for example, the experience of Drs. Chung and Aurora of Vancouver, who utilize a web-based application, Curve Dental, to help them manage their practice. Upon arriving one morning ready for a new day, Dr. Aurora quickly discovered that all of his computers had been stolen during the night. With patients set to arrive soon, Dr. Aurora called his wife, who brought him a personal laptop from home. Within minutes Dr. Aurora had access to the day’s schedule and it was mostly business as usual.
“It takes time and expertise to re-install and set up traditional client-server management software,” says Dr. Chung. Theft is not an uncommon disaster for dental practices, and for good reason. Thieves are confident they’ll find computers, servers, networking equipment, and drugs, all of which can be easily sold for a quick profit. Without computers, a dental practice using client-server software would lose at best half a day of production—and cross their fingers for an off-site data backup that will restore correctly.  Dr. Chung says that with their software “all one needs is a computer with an Internet browser.”
To prepare for the worst, practices would be faced with spending unreasonable amounts of energy and resources to keep their data safe and available. Web-based applications offer the overall best business continuity solution for the typical practice. Web-based dental software, that has been appropriately architected, is inherently more secure and available than client-server software.
Curve Dental has prepared several whitepapers and a real life case study on how web-based dental software can be a lifesaver for practices struck by disaster. Doctors can call 888-910-4376 to receive these papers or visit www.curvedental.com.

Gary Takacs — 5 Tips to Make This Your Best Year Yet

For more information please visit Gary’s website  www.takacslearningcenter.com

Many of you know or know of of this guest columnist.
Gary’s Takacs’ bio states that he is a practice advisor, speaker and founder of the Thriving Dentist Show, the #1 dental podcast on iTunes.
Prosperident CEO David Harris was privileged to be a guest on Gary’s show — you can check it out here.
David made the following comment about Gary that suggests that his bio is a bit understated:  “In addition to being a great interviewer, Gary is clearly one of the brightest minds in dentistry today”.  David is a Mensa member himself, so coming from him this is indeed high praise.
Let’s see what Gary has to say.
5 Tips to Make This Your Best Year Yet

It’s my strong opinion that dental practices are either growing or they are in decline. A case could be made that there is a third option of staying the same, but with ever-rising overhead, staying the same is just another form of decline.  This article will share 5 specific tips that will help you make 2014 your best year yet!

Develop a Comprehensive Marketing Plan            
New patients are necessary for a growing practice and often times the difference between a good practice and an amazing practice is the volume of quality new patients. Spend some time this year crafting a comprehensive marketing plan that includes internal, external and digital marketing activities. In my own practice, our most effective internal marketing strategy is the Dentist calling all new patients and any patient who receives an injection on the evening of treatment. An effective external marketing strategy for us is making NFL-Quality mouth guards for our local high school football team. One very effective external marketing strategy for us has been getting online patient reviews. An appropriate marketing budget for a growing practice is 4-5% of revenue.
Embrace Whitening              
Growing your whitening business is a great way to create better patients. Here are 3 simple things you can do to grow your whitening business:
1)     Take a shade match at the beginning of the hygiene appointment. Then show the patient their current tooth shade on a shade guide organized chromatically from dark to light.
2)     Value price whitening. Consider value-pricing whitening as a means of making it more affordable and accessible for your patients. The real economic benefit is the restorative & elective treatment that results from increasing your whitening.
3)     Offer lifetime whitening. Consider providing your whitening patients with free gel provided they keep their recommended hygiene appointments. This is a win/win strategy that patients love!
Use Digital Photos for Patient Education   
Take the following series of 6 digital photos on all new patients:
  • Natural smile
  • Close up retracted view
  • Upper occlusal view
  • Lower occlusal view
  • Left buccal corridor
  • Right buccal corridor
Load the photos onto an iPad or tablet for patient viewing. This will convert the process from a passive process to an active process for the patient. Be prepared to hear two frequent comments from patients; 1) “Wow, I have never seen my teeth like this before”, and 2) “Yuck!”
 
Add Clinical Services             
Adding clinical services is an excellent way to grow your practice. Existing patients already know and trust you and will likely respond well when you introduce additional services. Some services worth considering are; Adult orthodontics (6 Month Smiles or Invisalign), Implants, Sedation dentistry and Treatment of head and neck pain (TruDenta).
Provide a Remarkable New Patient Experience     
The first visit to your practice should be an awesome new patient experience that helps the patient take a greater interest in their oral health. Take some time with your team and design a new patient experience that is ideal. Consider beginning with a simple office tour that shows the patient some services that are available in your office. Include a new patient interview where a team member takes the time to get to know your patient and understand their ‘dental story’. Make it a ‘wow’ experience where patients leave saying, “Wow, I have never been treated so thoroughly before!”
 
Consider the 5 tips presented in this article as an excellent way to make 2014 your best year yet. As you begin to implement these recommendations, think of the following axiom. To achieve what you have never achieved, you must do what you have never done. Here’s to your success!

Dr. Lisa Knowles — New Year, New Hope

Learn more about Lisa at www.intentionaldental.com
You can reach her at 517-331-3688
 
Lisa Knowles is known as “Dentistry’s Communications Expert”.  After fifteen years of practice ownership, Lisa has scaled back her clinical activities to concentrate on consulting.  Her focus is on helping the dental community create messages that evoke change and unify teams, and Lisa has a particular interest in the topic of oral and systemic links emerging in dentistry. She is leading the way in creating awareness and in creating collaborative messages to help all healthcare providers speak a common language to facilitate better patient care.
Lisa and Prosperident CEO David Harris have been friends for several years and regularly have interesting discussions on topics of mutual interest.  The following piece from Lisa is an offshoot of one of those discussions.
New Year, New Hope
The topic of embezzlement is heavy. Let’s admit it. It’s scary, not real fun to think about, and brings up all sorts of emotional upheaval within us. Personally, I am elated David Harris covers this topic and takes care of it for dentists. I would not want to do it.
After many conversations with David, it’s clear I am the antithesis to the heaviness of embezzlement. David refers to me at the Don Quixote of dental consulting. At first, I worried about this. Maybe I am too soft? Maybe I am too pie in the sky? Maybe I am too…hopeful?
I think not. If there’s one thing people want in a dental consultant, it’s an ability to give them hope for something better. People turn to consultants under a couple of circumstances: 1) They want to change some things in their lives, and they want to get better or 2) They are really good at what they do, but they want to be even better. Both situations require hope.
I chide David about being too skeptical, and he chides me about chanting “om’s” in my yoga classes. Really, though, to succeed in dentistry, we need to be both skeptical and idealistic. The hard part: knowing when to turn one on and the other one off. If we are too skeptical, the world becomes negative and hard to live in. If we are too idealistic, life becomes fantastical and unrealistic.
For the embezzlement arena, I want to hire someone who is a bit cynical. This person must not trust easily and must question each “suspect” with the utmost objectivity. David and his team have this knack.
For the team left broken after an embezzlement situation, I offer the hope and reassurance that life will resume as normal again in due time. My forte in communication offers practices the language needed to get through the process, and my experience as a dentist helps other dentists learn to trust again.
No one likes to be duped. No one likes to play the fool. Embezzlement brings out all of these feelings and all of these possibilities. It’s good to know everyone has been duped and everyone has played the fool at some time in his or her life. Good consultants help the team find pieces of good in the world again and help breathe new life back into difficult situations. Good consultants hold the hope for the team when no one seems to have any of their own.
As the New Year begins, I challenge you to find the right balance between skepticism and idealism. For me, it’s an intentional effort to not live in a sea of cynicism day in and day out—even though there are thousands of reasons to lack faith in others. Rather, it’s a conscious choice to find the good in a bad situation. It’s a conscious effort to find others who, through the good, the bad, and the ugly, remain optimistic about life. People like David and I need each other. I need the Davids in my life to remind me to be cautious and to look before I leap. David needs the Lisas to remind him that not everyone is fraudulent, and there are trusted souls still out there in the world. We need both skepticism and idealism in dentistry, just not in their extremes
It’s with hope that I wish you a peaceful and prosperous 2014!
Lisa Knowles

Jennifer Schultz — The Value of Numbers

Learn more about Jennifer at www.virtualdentalofficemanager.com  You can reach her at (563) 582-4762.
Jennifer is one of the most versatile consultants you can find.  She is a fusion of clinical and managerial knowledge.  She has been a hygienist, a software trainer, a certified HR expert, and has been involved in practice transitions.  Her true niche is in helping dentists manage their practice and their teams.  We value Jen in situations where an office faces multiple issues simultaneously and needs someone with her breadth of experience to work through them. In addition to her broad knowledge, her outgoing nature and earnest personality make it hard not to like her.  Let’s hear what Jennifer has to say about understanding practice finances …
There is a ministry for couples struggling with finances that I volunteer with.  Recently I met with a couple who lost their home to foreclosure and moved in with her parents.  They told me that they lost their home because they couldn’t afford their house payment.  The first step in working with a couple for financial mentoring is to have them list all of their expenses and write down everything they spend for one month.  After reviewing this couple’s information I noticed that they spent $875 on their son’s birthday party and gift.  When I asked them how much they thought they spent they answered “about $300”.  The mortgage of the home that they lost was $580 a month.  When I showed them the numbers, they realized that the mortgage really wasn’t too high for their income, but their spending was.  Having the data made it very clear to see what the root cause of their financial situation was from.  Without tracking their expenses they would not have understood so easily what the cause and solutions were.  Tracking the numbers facilitates data based decisions.  The alternative is decisions based on our emotions.  Our emotions fluctuate however, the numbers don’t lie.
Tracking practice statistics in a dental office is very important as well.  Without the numbers, practice decisions are often based on emotion or what happened in the last few days.  For example, Dr. Brown noticed that his collections have not been what they should be.   He remembered seeing a report last month that listed all the adjustments and was shocked by how much is written off due to his contracts with insurance companies.  Dr. Brown determined that the insurance write offs are the reason why his collections are low.  While this may be true, it is quite possible that there are other protocols affecting his low collections.  They could be any of the following:
  • Payment on day of service
  • Collection calls and letters
  • Insurance claim follow up
  • Case presentation
  • Case acceptance
  • Payment options for patients
  • Cancellations/no shows
  • Priority list
Without tracking and reviewing practice statistics it is difficult to understand the real reason(s) behind the successes and challenges in a practice.  Without understanding the root cause of a challenge, finding a solution will take considerably longer.  However when statistics are tracked it makes it easy to identify the needed changes, and when the new protocols are successful.  The next time you have a challenge in your practice, focus on what your practice statistics are identifying as the root cause.

Kristin Pelletier — Overcoming the Insurance-Driven Patient

Learn more about Kristin at www.KristinPelletier.com

As you know, in the course of our work we are blessed to encounter some truly amazing consultants, and we like to use this portion of our newsletter to showcase some of them.
This week’s guest is someone we feel is an emerging star in the dental consulting world.
Kristin Pelletier is a dental practice management consultant whose comprehensive services bring success and transformation to clients with her results-driven consulting style.
We have known Kristin for several years and she continues to impress us with her knowledge and logical approach.
Overcoming the Insurance-Driven Patient
Many dental practices tell me their number one obstacle to case acceptance is that their patients are insurance-driven. What exactly does this mean? When you’re presenting treatment to a patient, how often does the question “Will my insurance cover this?” come up in the conversation? And, when it does, are you prepared with an effective response, or do you simply take the patient to the insurance coordinator to get the answer?
While many practices think this focus on insurance is initiated by their patients, I believe most patients actually learn this behavior from the dental team. Patients absorb this message in your office every day by offhand questions such as: “How often does their insurance company allow full mouth x-rays?” Or, “Will their insurance company allow sealants?” Or, in the case of a restorative procedure, do you recommend that the patient spread the treatment over multiple benefit years to get the maximum coverage by insurance?
When patients hear us asking these questions, they think that treatment decisions are the responsibility of their insurance company. Instead, we should be communicating that our primary concern is our patients’ optimal oral health. I recommend that you have a team meeting and talk about what types of services your practice makes treatment recommendations based on insurance coverage. Then, consider these same services in terms of their impact on your patients’ oral health without regard for how much insurance will cover. What changes do you need to make in the language you’re using in your practice so your focus is on patient health not insurance payments?
Don’t just make these changes with bigger procedures. Make sure to incorporate this language in everything you do. Your patients will start to pick up on the message for the little things – the preventive and the diagnostic procedures – that this practice focuses on what we need and not what insurance allows. Then when something bigger comes up – like restorative procedures with a waiting period or a frequency limitation – your patients have already been sent a very clear message that your practice makes treatment recommendations based on what you need not what insurance allows.
When objections do come up, reply with a health-centered answer. Take them back to the consequences of leaving the condition untreated. One of my favorite responses is: “Insurance is designed to help you maintain a healthy mouth. If you need a restorative procedure or you need to go from disease to health, insurance only provides a minimal cushion to help. But, once your mouth is healthy, your insurance will help you keep it that way.” When the dentist can be the one to say this, it is so POWERFUL!
When you change this behavior in your practice, you’re on the way to training your patients to value what they need and not what insurance will pay for.