Preventing Embezzlement from Your Medical Practice

by | Apr 8, 2017

Having been in the business of helping doctors effectively manage the business side of their practices for more than 20 years, Independent Networking Group (ING) knows that you want to trust your staff. You spend countless hours working with them, and perhaps you even hired them personally, so there is a definite connection. It would certainly seem reasonable to expect that they will always do the right thing.

Unfortunately, the people on your staff are, well, people. Humans aren’t perfect, and sometimes they make poor decisions. Such is the case when it comes to embezzlement from medical practices. The good news, though, is that one of the many services we offer for you through our firm is embezzlement identification and prevention.

Embezzlement in the Medical Field

Even with the best software programs for cash management and billing, experts report that embezzlement still happens with alarming frequency at doctor offices. Too often, this goes unnoticed because, in part, doctors are trained in medical practices, not business practices. Also, you’re busy spending your days ensuring patients receive the treatment they need, not taking the time needed to see if the financial numbers are making sense.

One additional reason for the high levels of embezzlement in the medical community is the trust doctors place in their staff. A majority of medical practices are small offices. In this kind of environment, everyone knows everyone else. This can make it easy to trust your employees.

In spite of this, it is absolutely necessary to stay vigilant in protecting your practice from all forms of embezzlement. Many doctors place an emphasis in discovering ways to generate extra revenue, but there should be more of a focus on making sure the office isn’t losing money.

This begs the question – how can embezzlement happen?

Well, there are many different practices thieves can use. These range from stealing petty cash (for offices that still have petty cash drawers) to using practice credit cards for personal purchases or diverting funds from the practice checking account to their personal account.

Embezzlement Warning Signs and Red Flags

A starting point for catching, and preventing, embezzlement is to become familiar with common warning signs and conditions that make this crime more likely. These include things like:

  • A billing staffer who never takes time off. Experts say that this is a common trait among employees who embezzle. The reason for this is simply that being in the office usually means no one else will put eyes on their fraudulent billing. As such, these employees don’t want to risk being away and raising the possibility they are caught.
  • A single office manager who handles all financial transactions. When only one employee is responsible for writing all checks and handling all deposits, the temptation factor is quite high. It is even more concerning if this employee also has the ability to work on a computer at home.
  • Sudden displays of wealth, or admissions of financial setbacks. Not everyone who suddenly comes into money is an embezzler. And not everyone whose spouse loses his or her job is going to turn to embezzling as a way to make up for lost income. However, these situations can at least raise a red flag and let you know it is worth keeping your pulse on the situation.
  • Related employees. As with the other potential signs, not all relatives are going to commit embezzlement, but this can potentially be concerning for two different reasons. First, the relatives might work together to concoct a scheme. Second, one relative may be reluctant to turn the other one in if he or she notices anything.

Even better than trying to prevent embezzlement at your practice alone is letting ING handle this for you as part of our practice management services. You may be highly educated in practicing medicine, but they don’t cover embezzlement in medical school. ING, on the other hand, has spent years helping doctors with issues just like this.

Contact Independent Networking Group to learn more about the essential services we offer to make sure your medical practice doesn’t just survive but reaches its full potential. Call us today at (260) 927-1266!

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