People come to my lectures looking for many things — some want CE credit; others with embezzlement concerns want information, and there are probably some seeking entertainment.
There is also the group I call “validators” — what they want is my affirmation that they are doing the right things to address the possibility of embezzlement in their practices.
So after the lecture or during a break, they will approach me to ask if a specific business practice (that they are using or are contemplating using) will “prevent” embezzlement. Some of the more common tactics discussed are a separation of front-desk functions, direct deposit of insurance payments into their bank account, not accepting assignment of insurance benefits, and having a bank “lockbox” where payments are directed and opened by a third party.
I think that most of them leave the conversation disappointed when I tell them that, while many of these things are good ideas for other reasons, none of them are likely to have any impact on embezzlement.
The reason is simple — each of these things removes one (narrow) opportunity for stealing. What none of them do is to address the thief’s desire to steal, which is an incredibly strong force (and one which humankind has had little success in influencing despite a lot of trying). A thief who knows you well, and probably understands your practice management software far better than you do, is very likely to overcome whatever obstacles you place in their path and successfully embezzle.
So while I will never encourage you to stop looking for more streamlined ways to run your practice, we also can’t ever be lulled into thinking that we have created a structure that is embezzlement-proof.
So if you are one of those unfortunates who has been on the receiving end of one of my “if you did that, here is how I would embezzle from you” sentences in one of my presentations, I apologize for leaving you feeling a bit deflated. However, I hope that you gained some insight that will equip you better to recognize and deal with the possibility of embezzlement in your practice.