Let’s face it: As a practice owner, you have many responsibilities. Juggling the demands of seeing patients, overseeing staff, and monitoring financial transactions can be overwhelming. That’s why putting safeguards and internal controls in place is so important, to help you avoid the risk of theft from employees. While it may be hard to imagine that the smiling face you hired to greet visitors could be stealing from you, that kind of naivety has cost doctors like you thousands of dollars in annual revenue. In fact, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), as many as 60% of dentists will eventually become victims of embezzlement. It can be difficult to prevent employee theft, but educating yourself now and putting processes in place to better secure your financial picture can help minimize the possibility of it happening to you. Here are some tips to get you started.
Know Who You’re Hiring
It’s not enough to select a new employee based on their resume or personality. Your new hire will be handling confidential information such as insurance claims, patient data, and checking account numbers, so anyone whom you consider bringing on board should undergo a professional background check. You should also request references, including contact information from their previous employer.
Learn as Much as (and More Than) Your Employees
Over time, employees see which patients pay with cash, who writes checks, the average daily and weekly deposit amounts, and how much money comes in from insurance companies. This is information you should be familiar with as well. Require that each employee log these details in your accounting software and ask your accountant to help you create a program that includes a check and balance system with daily opening and closing reports. That way, either you or your accountant can run and analyze these reports—never an employee.
Delegate Shared Responsibilities
No individual in your office should control any financial process from start to finish, so make sure you establish and implement a team approach to these tasks. This will let you know who recorded which transactions and create a higher degree of accountability among your staff.
Look for Common Red Flags
You should always keep an eye out for common indicators that an employee might be stealing from the practice. Pay attention if someone on your team is suddenly spending beyond their means, is always the first in the building and last to leave, or is overly protective or secretive of their work.
Schedule an Outside Audit
Serious financial damage can add up quickly if you’re the victim of embezzlement, so it’s important to periodically hire an outside accountant to review your finances and look for irregularities. He or she will be able to monitor your employees’ work and catch errors, mistakes and theft.
If you notice that the numbers in your practice aren’t adding up, it’s best not to tell anyone on your staff since the suspect could find out and destroy incriminating evidence. Instead, talk to a trusted CPA first so they can put a fool-proof process in place to catch your thief and get your money back in your business where it belongs. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment to learn more, contact us today.