That is an excellent question.
Embezzlement protection involves a few big steps and a lot of small items. For this post, let’s address the big items.
They are proper hiring, financial monitoring, and creating a climate where an employee with suspicions about a co-worker will feel comfortable coming forward.
Most dentists know far less about the people they hire than they should. When we say the words “background check” to many dentists, what they hear is the need to check whether someone has a criminal record. With 70 million Americans having criminal convictions, criminal records are part, but by no means all, of what should be checked. The most important investigative step, and often skipped, is the need to speak with former employers. The best predictor of what kind of employee you will have is how this person performed as an employee in the past.
There are many other good sources of information, such as doing a drug test and examining how someone conducts themselves on social media.
Here is a link to a webinar where we discuss the proper screening before hiring — https://www.prosperident.com/prosperident-power-hour-april-22-2020-dont-hire-an-embezzler/
The second component is the financial monitoring of your practice. We see far too many “I’m a clinician only” dentists who completely abdicate their finances to staff with no oversight whatsoever. If you leave your finances in the hands of staff without supervision, you will probably be embezzled sooner or later.
At an absolute minimum, the following should be done:
- A daily review of transactions in your practice management software to look for errors and suspicious entries.
- A monthly confirmation that the amount that should have been deposited in your bank account according to your practice management software actually was deposited. The good news is that, unlike the daily review of transactions, this step can be comfortably outsourced to an external bookkeeper.
- A monthly confirmation that the total revenue, collections, and adjustments from all of the day-end reports you have received equals the totals for the same items from a month-end summary report from your software. This task can also be outsourced, or we have a spreadsheet that you can use to do the math for you and make this a quick and easy process.
- A monthly review of your receivables and insurance claims that have been sent but not paid by insurance to look for unfavorable trends and other anomalies. This activity should not be delegated.
Here is a webinar that talks about how to oversee your practice’s finances — https://www.prosperident.com/prosperident-power-hour-may-6-reconcile-or-reckless-you-choose/.
The third component is to create a climate where, if a staff member thinks that a co-worker is up to something, that staff member feels comfortable approaching you with his or her concerns. Staff in dental practices are far less likely to express their concerns than people in other businesses. Having a well-thought-out policy that is communicated to employees through their employee handbook is a good way to provide comfort to staff who are wrestling with whether to approach you on their suspicions.
This monitoring doesn’t need to be an arduous process. Five to ten minutes per day and an hour once per month are enough time to do this if some outsourcing assistance is used.
We assist many practice owners with setting up systems that allow them to be in control of their practices’ finances. Please give us a call if you would like to discuss how we can help.