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Dental Accounting | Data Security Best Practices

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Though most of the attacks making headlines are those aimed at large organizations or political groups, roughly a third of all data security breaches in the last few years have occurred in the health care industry. Of these, employee error caused three times as many breaches as external attacks. In addition, more than half of the businesses who experience a security breach have fewer than 1,000 employees.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires all health care providers to take steps to protect the private information of their patients from hackers, thieves, and staff. While no data security system is foolproof, there are some best practices that can help to decrease your risk of an information breach, especially from employee error. Here are some of the best practices you should be enforcing:

  • All computers should be placed where screens are not visible to patients or visitors.
  • Every computer should have an encrypted password for access.
  • All passwords should contain a mixture of letters, numbers, and/or symbols and should be changed regularly.
  • Passwords should never be written down in any place accessible by the public. It is preferable that they not be written down at all.
  • Every staff member must be fully educated about the importance of data security practices, their responsibility to follow these practices, and the potential repercussions for failing to comply.
  • Office computers and internet should not be used to check personal email or visit non-work-related websites.
  • Ensure all firewalls, software, and operating systems are kept up to date.
  • Wireless networks should be shielded from public view.
  • Every computer should have antivirus software installed and kept up to date.
  • Do not access office data remotely from a shared computer or unknown WiFi network.
  • Smartphones, tablets, laptops that have access to any work systems or emails should be password protected in case lost or stolen.
  • All hard copies of patient data should be shredded.
  • All transmitted data should be encrypted.
  • Sensitive information, such as social security numbers, financial data, or other private information, should never be sent through email or instant messaging services.
  • Consider purchasing cyber insurance protection.
  • If a breach does occur, take appropriate action immediately. Contact your legal counsel for advice.

Your first and best defense against the theft of sensitive patient information is the integration of data security best practices into your practice policies. Meet with your team to discuss any changes you need to make and your expectations of compliance. Protect yourself, your team, and your patients by working to protect the integrity of your systems.

For more information, contact us today.

Dental CPAs | How to Prepare for an Audit

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The prospect for an audit can be daunting. The best way to combat the stress and anxiety induced with this process is to prepare yourself and your company before it happens. Below are a few tips to keep your stress levels low and your preparations high through the process.

Know what it will entail

If you are unaware of what an audit entails, it is a good idea to do your research and learn about the process. Knowing what questions the IRS examiner might ask or what documents they will want to see can help control your anxiety and show you are well prepared.

Document thoroughly

Get in the habit of keeping up with your primary and secondary tax records year-round to be better prepared for when an audit happens. Staying organized using a personal filing system will help you know where everything is. Be sure to have a digital and paper trail as well incase anything happens to either filing system.

Gather the Information

Before the audit happens, make sure you have all the necessary documentation that will be asked of you to present. If you believe something is missing, you can try to recreate the records as accurately as possible or contact the place where you submitted it to for their records. Since you will have all your documents in one place, lay out the information and label it for the auditor for an efficient process.

Pre-audit compliance report

If you feel overwhelmed or disorganized, get on track with a thorough examination of your financial data to prepare and compile your documents. Our experienced team will help you set up a system and provide you with confidence if facing an audit.

For more information on audits, or addition accounting advice, contact us today.

 

Tax and Retirement Planning for 2017, by J. Haden Werhan, CPA, PFS

The new year brings with it both good and bad news for dentists as they plan ahead for taxes and retirement. Each year, the IRS announces cost-of-living adjustments (for everything from tax brackets, to the standard deduction, to personal exemptions), various phaseouts, and retirement plan limits. There were few changes from 2015 to 2016, but 2017 is another story, with a significant increase in Social Security tax and a modest bump in certain income limits that may affect your retirement planning.

Click here to view or download the full article.

Retirement Plans for Dentists, by J. Haden Werhan, CPA, PFS

As practice owners, dentists should carefully consider the advantages of establishing an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Generally, you’re allowed a deduction for contributions you make to a retirement plan. In return, however, you’re required to include your employees in the plan, and to give a portion of the contributions you make to those employees who are eligible. Even so, a retirement plan can provide you with a tax-advantaged method to save for your own retirement while providing your employees with a powerful and appreciated benefit, especially in today’s competitive employment market.

Click here to view or download the full article.

Dental CPAs | Manage Your Calendar to Balance Your Life

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Appointments and continuing education consume most of your time. How do you manage to live a happy, well-adjusted, balanced life when you simply don’t have time? The key is in planning. Do you use a calendar to manage your time or do you simply make agreements and arrangements as they come up? Here is how you can balance your schedule by managing your calendar.

Set Clear Boundaries

The first step to achieving a work-life balance is to consider your basic responsibilities and obligations. Set aside blocks of time in your calendar to meet with patients, hold team meetings, and attend organizational group meetings. Your calendar should be your primary time-management tool.

Time Off Means Time Off

You need to set aside time for activities unrelated to work. When you decide to take a day off, make sure it’s in your calendar. If it’s not in there, your time off is likely to be consumed by an emergency patient appointment, unexpected meeting, or other business-related expense. Make your scheduling priorities clear with your office team so they are not left with the burden of how to handle unexpected situations while you are away.

It’s Not Just for Work

Your calendar doesn’t need to be exclusive to work. In fact, it may be beneficial for you to regularly include your other commitments. From your children’s school activities to anniversaries and birthdays, seeing these events alongside your work schedule can help you make better scheduling choices. You’ll be more reluctant to accept an invitation to a meeting or convention when you know it will conflict with another occasion. By including other events on your calendar, you minimize the risk of dealing with a stressful schedule conflict between your work life and your personal life.

Never let your calendar run your day. You have the ability to schedule your day by using your calendar as a tool for time management. Start by setting clear scheduling boundaries by blocking the time you need for your main responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to take time off, but always make sure it is a part of your schedule.  Also, consider including other life events and activities in your calendar to better manage your schedule.

For more tips on effectively managing your work schedule, contact one of our firms today. 

ADCPA | Academy of Dental CPAs

Dental CPAs | Are You Setting the Right Goals?

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No matter how effective you are at vision casting, dreams require hard work and strategic planning to become a reality. Highly successful business owners know the benefits of setting realistic and measurable goals. Rethink the way you are setting goals for your business. Your ambitious plans will be successful only if you have a road map to reach them. By mastering the art of setting incremental, measurable goals, you’ll be able to more effectively to reach them. For more tips on managing your practice, contact our firm today.

Plan out the steps, not just the big picture.

Start small by establishing smaller goals on a quarterly, monthly, or even daily basis. It can be easy to let ambition take over and lose track of the work required to reach your ultimate objective. Setting smaller, incremental goals provides the opportunity for you to celebrate the small victories along the journey and reassess early if something isn’t working.

Measure your success.

How will you know if you achieved your goal if you cannot measure it? Goals should have a measurable standard. Perhaps you want to see 5 more new patients each month or to increase the number of referrals by 50%. Set specific goals that are easy to track. This will help you to definitively know whether or not you’ve reached them and, if not, have a tangible metric of how much you still need to accomplish.

Make your goals visible.

The more visible your goals are, the greater pressure you’ll feel to meet them. Make sure everyone in your practice is aware of what you’re trying to achieve. This will not only ensure that they’re actively helping you reach your goals, but will also provide a source of accountability to hold you to your word. Putting up visual reminders can also be a simple way to accomplish a similar effect. The more you’re reminded of your goal, the more likely you are to work towards it.

Real growth doesn’t happen passively. In order to take your practice to the next level, you need to set goals to help you get there. Whether these goals are financial, patient-oriented, or focused on personal development, we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more!

Academy of Dental CPAs | ADCPA

Dental Accounting | Get Organized, Get Productive

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Time is money. If you want your practice to be as efficient and economically prosperous as possible, you don’t want to spend valuable time dealing with the effects of clutter and chaos. Disorganization is shown to have a direct negative impact on productivity and, by extension, your earning potential as a practice.

Whether you feel like you’re drowning in papers or you want to learn tips to take your efficiency to the next level, here are some tips to help you and your team get organized. Contact our team today to learn more about the strategies we can help you implement to ensure you’re getting the most out of your practice.

Clean Up the Clutter

When you have so many different things demanding your attention throughout the day, it can be difficult to keep on top of everything. If you’re not careful, papers and other clutter can accumulate faster than you realize. Once the pile starts to get away from you, it can be hard to ever work your way back through without having to set aside valuable time to sort through everything.

It’s easier to avoid getting yourself into this mess in the first place once you have organizational strategies in place. You might create a unique filing system for handling the various kinds of mail that comes through your office. Perhaps you set specific team members in charge of returning calls. The best system of organization is the one that works for you and your team.

Don’t Let Your Time Manage You

It can be difficult to prioritize the different duties of your work. It’s rare that even an hour will go by without a variety of different distractions. While you’ll have the occasional emergency that demands immediate response, most of these interruptions will not need to be addressed right away.

Resist the urge to drop everything every time a new email or task arises. Operating this way will only make it harder to actually accomplish any of your duties on time. Instead, learn to prioritize which things need to be addressed immediately and which can be done later. Delegate what can be passed to another and clarify deadlines for things that must be completed by you to allow accurate prioritization of tasks.

The day-to-day efficiency of your business can impact its long-term success. Don’t waste your time digging through clutter because you’re working without a plan. For more strategies for your success, contact our office.

Academy of Dental CPAs | ADCPA

Dental CPA | Strategies to Boost Profitability

Dental Accounting

According to Dr. Charles Blair, DDS, most dental practices are losing between $30,000 and $50,000 in potential profits. How can dental practices maximize return on their services and start to recoup capital? Here are three strategies to boost profits in your practice:

 

Optimize your Practice

Taking a look at production reports to make sure procedures were coded correctly. This may seem fundamental, but it can save a lot of time and money in the long run. One incorrectly charged procedure can increase costs over the course of a year.

In addition, adding high-dollar procedures to your practice such as endodontics, bleaching, and other cosmetic services can greatly boost your profit. Training dental hygienists in more complex procedures, such as soft-tissue management and bleaching, will also maximize a dental practices’ profitability.

Staff your Practice Well

In order to recruit and hire the best possible candidates, it is worth paying above average wages to experienced people in the field. This avoids employee turnover, which can become costly. A friendly and knowledgeable team will also help with patient retention rates.

Facilities and Equipment

If possible, purchase all your dental and office equipment, rather than leasing it. This avoids a number of issues, including higher retail costs, interest payments, hidden fees, and lease-breaking penalties.

Strive to maximize your office space. If your current patient volume doesn’t allow you to use all your offices, consider subletting either your primary or secondary office space. Also, merging your office with another dentist can help you in fully utilizing your space and also reduces overhead costs.

There are a variety of ways to boost profits and cut costs while owning a practice. To start, think about your services, staff, and office space. Opening a practice can be costly and leave many dentists in debt, especially after finishing school. Contact us today for help on managing your budget and ways to maximize your return on investment.

Academy of Dental CPAs | ADCPA