“My Day-end Report Balances to my Deposit, so I Must Be Safe From Embezzlement”

We hear this a lot.  At the core of your practice management software is a concept called “double-entry accounting”.  This means that a transaction mandatorily affects two different “accounts” maintained by your software. 

So, for example, entering a dental procedure increases both your “charges” and the receivable due from that patient.  Entering a payment decreases the patient’s receivable balance and adds to “collections”.

In a perfect world, stealing money would cause one of two issues; either the day-end report would not balance to the bank deposit if the amount stolen had first been entered as a payment in the practice management software. On the other hand, if the amount received was stolen without anything being entered into the practice’s practice management software. the software would show some unfortunate patient having a balance that is higher than what it is supposed to be.

Many dentists believe that the existence of this double-entry accounting will prevent would-be thieves from successfully stealing from the practice.

There are a couple of flaws in that logic. First, many dentists do not thoroughly check reports from their practice management software against the bank deposit. It isn’t sufficient to limit the review to the amount of cash and checks being taken to the bank; the practice owner must also verify deposits made directly by third parties, such as credit card payments and “ACH” (automated clearing house) deposits made by some insurance companies and other third parties like patient financing companies. A complicating factor is that there is often a timing difference — if a patient pays by credit card today, the practice management software treats this payment as being received today, although there is typically a delay of a couple of days before this payment is deposited to the practice’s bank account.

So if the practice owner is not verifying deposits or is doing an incomplete verification, a thief may not be required to display any artistry — they simply create an out-of-balance situation in the knowledge that the doctor will not find it.

If the day-end routing is done properly by the practice owner, a thief must become more creative. There are a number of methods of generating “fake news” where so that the reports produced by the practice management software are inaccurate, so that the day-end appears to balance while at the same time patient account balances are accurate. This is common, and something that we see almost daily.

Because we do not want to add to the tool kits of any embezzlers who happen to be reading this article, we are not going to enumerate the methods of “cooking the books” here; however a dentist with concerns or questions is welcome to contact us for a private discussion.