Protecting Dental Professionals From Fraud and Embezzlement

David Harris is the CEO of Prosperident, the world’s largest firm investigating financial crimes committed against dentists. As a dual-certified, licensed private investigator and CPA, Harris taps into his vast web of experiences to conduct entertaining and engaging conferences that help educate and protect dentists all around the globe. This might seem like a narrow focus, but there is approximately a 60-80% chance of a dentist being stolen from during his or her career. When the going is good, things get swept under the rug and embezzlement and fraud become much more likely, so David and his organization have stepped up to the plate to try and mitigate these risks and look out for their clients’ best interests.

Preventative Measures

In most businesses, when theft occurs it happens on the expense side, but in dentistry, it happens on the revenue side, where the overwhelming majority is staff members stealing patient payments or insurance payments. Some of the basic practices that dentists can put in place are tools such as daily balancing, but this process has changed dramatically over the years. Sometimes it is written off as a staff function and put out of the dentist’s mind, especially now that balancing has become a complex exercise due to electronic money flow and software adaptations.

Dentists need to get involved with their daily balancing and subsequently their monthly balancing. If they are not, the staff can steal money without any particular need to conceal it. If this is not an option they are willing to consider, then outsourcing is the next best preventative measure. On the other hand, if there is already suspicion and preventative measures will not be effective, it might be time to consider reaching out to a firm like Prosperident to begin an investigation.

A Pending Investigation

When Harris begins an investigation his team will first look at the most common twenty-five methodologies for theft, and if that turns anything up they may look into other areas on an as-needed basis. This is all done incognito and completely undetectable to staff as to not impede daily operations. Sometimes doctors don’t want to know the truth, but this is not a process he or his clients take lightly since the average amount stolen is upwards of $109,000 over a period of approximately two years.

The Impact of Fraud and Embezzlement

Most of the time, this starts out as small theft that is undetected and it snowballs into larger theft as their opportunity is recognized. Opportunity, pressure, and rationalization are the three key preconditions to having embezzlement. It is a gateway effect, and even if it starts with pens and stamps, it can grow and plateau at around 2-4% of collections in some cases. 

Embezzlement is not the only downside to the lack of technological prowess many doctors are facing, and many have not taken the time to familiarize themselves with the practice management systems that are crucial to daily operations. Aside from the loss of money, this will also create a potential loss in productivity as the staff is not being monitored properly. One way Harris encourages interaction with this software by advising doctors to print the reports themselves. When this takes place, there is no opportunity for staff members to change anything and you will be getting an unadulterated overview of the practice’s transactions.

 

If you suspect any problems, it is vitally important that you proceed stealthily. People who feel painted into a corner may do some crazy things, Listen to this episode of the Progressive Dentist to hear David Harris explain how to prevent fraud, how to identify it, and the steps you need to take if you suspect it. Click here to listen to the episode, and make sure to visit //craigcodyandcompany.com/podcast/ for more informative episodes like this one.

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