July 30, 2014 -- In a new three-part series, Michael W. Davis, DDS, details some of the ways dentists and dental offices are vulnerable to scams. This first part will introduce the series and discuss embezzlement and scams that are played on vulnerable employee dentists.
Dentists are played as marks for scams for several reasons. First, we are targeted because our earning potential is much higher than the general population. Traditionally, dentists have often operated in an isolationist bubble and often confer with colleagues on nonclinical matters only in unusual situations. The demanding focuses of the technical aspects of our profession often preclude us from closer examination of what may be obvious to others. We have blind spots. We are vulnerable.
Recently, courageous leaders in the dental profession such as Drs. Gordon and Rella Christensen have openly discussed embezzlement actions against them. These disclosures help dissolve any shame or guilt that other doctors/victims may carry. No one enjoys admitting they were scammed. However, open disclosures by victims help erode the smokescreen, which perpetrators depend on to pull off their scams.
Embezzlement and employee theft against an owner/doctor can take many forms. The ADA estimates about a third of all dental offices will be or have been victims of embezzlement. Experts in systems management to prevent and investigate dental office embezzlement and fraud say estimates are greater than 50%. Regardless of the exact number, these risks are very real and potentially devastating to a dental practice.
The exact method of the scam can take on enough discussion to fill several volumes of books. In a common method, the office manager, who is generally valued and trusted beyond reason, pockets office receipts. These may be cash payments from patients that the office manager writes off.
August 6, 2014 -- In the second of a three-part series, Michael W. Davis, DDS, details some of the ways dentists and dental offices are vulnerable to scams. This part discusses unethical practice management consultants and practice brokers.
Who doesn't receive via email, fax, telephone, or mail a solicitation from a dental practice consultant on a weekly basis? As a young doctor, I saw many that would promise the "Million Dollar Practice." Today, those figures have grown to the $8 million, $10 million, or $12 million practice. The promises are ridiculously laughable. As the man once said, "If it seems too good to be true, it is."
A number of big-name consultants spend a great deal of time with legal actions brought forth from dissatisfied doctor clients. Using a boilerplate formula from a household name consultant has brought many a dental practice to bankruptcy or near bankruptcy. They may also have multiple endorsements from organized dentistry, which today is little more than paid advertising.
Simply because a consultant has exposure, with prolific publication of consulting articles, does not ensure his or her competency to manage the unique specifics of your dental office.
Here are some suggestions.
Do a background check on former doctor clients who the consultant has served. Do they have philosophies and goals similar to yours? What were the specific objectives? Were goals met?