When you hire an individual and put them in a position to handle and manage your businesses’ money only to find out they have mismanaged or embezzled money from you it leaves you feeling betrayed and devastated. The breach of sacred trust makes you feel like your home has been burglarized by your best friend or your next door neighbor. Mismanagement of money is not a crime but embezzlement is and in both cases there is always a huge loss of revenue to the business.
These situations do not distinguish between large practices and small practices. By the time the situation comes to light, the average amount stolen or mismanaged can be in the excess of $100,000. How do you as a business owner or an office manager of a dental practice distinguish the difference and how do you investigate and minimize the risk of either one happening? One of the first areas in the practice to look at is your insurance accounts receivables. The insurance aging reports are so important because they help you analysis what happens with the money owed to your business.
Here are two examples of offices that our company has worked with and neither one of the dentists or office managers were aware to the degree what was going on. The first office was small and had only one office manager/receptionist, a dental assistant and a hygienist. The dentist decided to sell his practice and he asked our company to analysis his practice and give him an appraisal for the value of his business. His collections were low compared to his production and he had an excessively large accounts receivable in comparison to his production average of $50,000.00 per month. When we ran an insurance aging report the outstanding balance was $469,000.00 with open claims dating back to 2003. The lady that was now the office manager/receptionist had only been working in the office three months so she was not as familiar with the software as the other person who had been there thirteen years prior. She knew there were problems but she was not sure where to even begin in trying to find out what was going on with the large accounts receivables. The fact that the insurance A/R balance was so large was a BIG RED FLAG that something fishy was going on.
We started to investigate only to find out that patients had not been receiving bills for years and that these open claims had never been re-filed. This resulted in a loss of over $250,000.00 dollars because the office had to write off the outstanding insurance amounts after trying to re-file all the outstanding claims that were less than two years old. Most insurance companies have a one to two year limit about re-filing so most of the money owed by the insurance company had to be written off and the patient was billed for the difference. This also resulted in a very negative situation with the patients because they were now being billed for services that were very old when they thought their insurance had paid their bill in full. The poor office manager spent months taking phone calls from irate patients until most of the claims were re-processed, the balances were adjusted properly and she could finally bill them for what they actually owed.
In another situation the office manager, of a very large multi-doctor, with several locations practice, contacted us to receive some computer training. After running numerous insurance reports we discovered the same situation. There were two women managing the accounts receivables and both of the women would create their own reports (in a spread sheet format) to give to the doctors and office manager about the aging of the accounts. This is another RED FLAG when the staff is constantly creating their own reports instead of using the computer generated reports.
After the office manager was trained to run and evaluate the aging reports herself we discovered that the office had never closed outstanding claims when the patient paid the bill in full (because two of the doctors did not participate with any insurance plans) and their outstanding insurance report was in excess of $800,000.00 going back for at least six years.
These two ladies had worked at the office for almost twelve years but at some point they just stopped doing their work properly and started to mismanage and embezzle money from the practice. After they were terminated it was discovered there were checks sitting in drawers and other strange places in the office, that had never been cashed. Many patients had not been billed so trying to find out whether the money was stolen or if the checks had been received but never cashed or were cashed by the ladies was a nightmare for the office. Again not to mention the angry patients calling because they were now receiving bills for services rendered several years ago about balances they knew nothing about.
Managing insurance issues these days is a very easy process, if done properly and running the appropriate reports will help minimize the risk that something is not being done in a timely fashion.
Here are some areas to pay close attention to when running insurance reports and billing-
1. Look at the total balance of your outstanding insurance claims and look at the breakdown (30, 60, 90 days) of the balance. The over 90 category should be less than 1% of the total outstanding insurance aging balance.
2. The total accounts receivable balance combined (money patients owe you and money still owed from insurance) should average a month or less of the office gross production. If the office produces an average of $75,000.00 per month the total combined money owed to the office (A/R) should average $75,000.00 or less.
4. File claims electronically. This means all claims including pre-treatment claims that need attachments. It is much faster, more efficient and cost effective to file a claim electronically than it is to print a paper claim and x-ray, stuff it into an envelope and put a stamp on the envelope.
3. Run your insurance reports daily and weekly. With real time claims you can look up your claims quickly and you can find out if something is wrong with your claim before the claim becomes overdue.
4. Claims should be processed in 30 days or less so most of your insurance money should be in the current category when you are looking at the aging report of your claims. There are some insurance companies that take a little longer than 30 days to process claims but if a claim is 45 days old you should contact the insurance company to find out what has happened with your claim.
5. Bill the patient for their balance (if you have not collected it in advance) at the time the insurance company pays their portion. Don’t wait until the end of the month to send the statement. If you normally bill patient’s on the 25th of the month then any insurance payment received on the 25th and after, up to the 15th of the next month, send a “turn around” statement to the patient whose payment you just received. This means you might be sending 1-20 (depending upon the size of the practice) statements to patients each day. This speeds up the billing process and most patients will pay the bill in advance of the regular month billing time so you don’t have to bill them again on the 25th. This helps the office with cash flow and cuts down on the time it takes to do the billing at the next cycle.
6. Close all outstanding claims that are owed to the patient and not the practice. You can still create the claim and send it in for the patient but close it after you send it. This will keep your insurance aging accurate and that way you do not spend time looking for money that is owed to the patient and not to the office.
7. Use the proper insurance adjustment code when you process an insurance payment. You should have a separate insurance adjustment for all insurance plans that you participate with. For example instead of using a generic “Insurance Adjustment” as the code, it should be called a “Metlife or Cigna Insurance Adjustment”. This helps you evaluate (monthly and yearly) the amounts being written off specifically to each insurance plan.
Remember it is up to the people in charge specifically the owner dentist, the office manager and the insurance manager to be evaluating and running reports regularly to determine the overall financial health of the practice. By reviewing and evaluating the numbers regularly and managing your insurance properly you can cut down on the risk of mismanagement or embezzlement thereby saving you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Integrating Dentrix Patient Data Base with Facebook
We have a great office facebook page and want to invite all our patients to join as a friend. How can we utilize our valuable patient information in Dentrix to integrate into an email contact list for FB?
Using eCentral’s Communication Manager, you can easily email a message to all of your patients.
If you are wanting to export a list of email addresses, create, and send the email yourself:
1 Open Office Manager | Letters | Misc
2 Click New
Letter Name: Patient E-mail Addresses
Merge Data File Name: email.out
Merge Letter Template: email.doc (this will not be used though)
On the Patient Filters tab (top left):
Patient Name: From All to All
Status, Gender, Position: Check as desired
Use Privacy Request…: ‘Does not apply for this letter’ will include all patients. ‘Applies for Patients or Guarantors’ skips all patients who have the “No correspondence” selected in their Family File.
On the Data Fields tab (top left):
Check the information that you want to include on the final list (probably last name, first name, MI, e-mail address, and whatever else you like)
7 Click OK
8 Be sure your Email List is highlighted.
Click Create Data File Only and OK
When List Count is finished, click View List and you will see your tab-separated value text file.
9 To make the list easier to read, choose Edit | Select All and then Edit | Copy
Open your favorite spreadsheet program (such as Excel) and Paste.
Sort it by the email column, and those patients without an email will sort to the bottom of the list.
Using Mail Merge features built into Word, Excel, and Outlook, you can now create a merged email between the programs and the data now in an Excel spreadsheet. Instructions wil vary for this, so consult office.microsoft.com for instructions.
Also, keep in mind that you should make an effort to understand and comply with local and federal laws before sending mass emails to your customers. The US Federal CAN-SPAM act is probably the biggest one to pay attention to.
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Each year dentists are faced with the complicated questions and issues about what to give their staff as a Christmas Gift.
Should it be called a Christmas Bonus or an End of the Year Bonus?
Should you give a gift, money or time off?
Should this gift be factored into the overall compensation benefits given to the staff for the year?
What about the cost of the dinner or luncheon that usually goes with the Christmas gift?
Our company is always looking for creative and innovative ways to show your staff the appreciation they deserve and should receive so we want to hear back from you.
Let us know your thoughts and ideas about how to give a gift that shows how much you truly care and appreciate them. Please leave your comments and the most creative and/or innovative idea will win a $25.00 VISA gift card.
Smiling Makes You Feel Better
A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience; with a raised glass of water, and everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, ‘half empty or half full?’… she fooled them all … “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile.
Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “and that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”
“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night… pick them up tomorrow.
Whatever burdens you’re carrying now, let them down for a moment. Relax, pick them up later after you’ve rested. Life is short. Enjoy it and the now ‘supposed’ stress that you’ve conquered!”
Accept the fact that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue!
Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
Drive carefully… It’s not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.
If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
Never buy a car you can’t push.
Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg a leg to stand on.
Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.
Since it’s the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.
The second mouse gets the cheese.
When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.
Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.
Smile, it takes less facial muscles and makes you and everyone feel better.
We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.
A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today.
It was me, in case you’re wondering!
Save the earth… It’s the only planet with chocolate!
[via the world wide web, original source unknown]
Albert Einstein’s was estimated at 160, Madonna’s is 140, and John F. Kennedy’s was only 119, but as it turns out, your IQ score pales in comparison with your EQ, MQ, and BQ scores when it comes to predicting your success and professional achievement.
IQ tests are used as an indicator of logical reasoning ability and technical intelligence. A high IQ is often a prerequisite for rising to the top ranks of business today. It is necessary, but it is not adequate to predict executive competence and corporate success. By itself, a high IQ does not guarantee that you will stand out and rise above everyone else.
Research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85 percent of your financial success is due to skills in “human engineering,” your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead. Shockingly, only 15 percent is due to technical knowledge. Additionally, Nobel Prize winning Israeli-American psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, found that people would rather do business with a person they like and trust rather than someone they don’t, even if the likeable person is offering a lower quality product or service at a higher price.
With this in mind, instead of exclusively focusing on your conventional intelligence quotient, you should make an investment in strengthening your EQ (Emotional Intelligence), MQ (Moral Intelligence), and BQ (Body Intelligence). These concepts may be elusive and difficult to measure, but their significance is far greater than IQ.
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EQ is the most well known of the three, and in brief it is about: being aware of your own feelings and those of others, regulating these feelings in yourself and others, using emotions that are appropriate to the situation, self-motivation, and building relationships.
Top Tip for Improvement: First, become aware of your inner dialogue. It helps to keep a journal of what thoughts fill your mind during the day. Stress can be a huge killer of emotional intelligence, so you also need to develop healthy coping techniques that can effectively and quickly reduce stress in a volatile situation.
MQ directly follows EQ as it deals with your integrity, responsibility, sympathy, and forgiveness. The way you treat yourself is the way other people will treat you. Keeping commitments, maintaining your integrity, and being honest are crucial to moral intelligence.
Top Tip for Improvement: Make fewer excuses and take responsibility for your actions. Avoid little white lies. Show sympathy and communicate respect to others. Practice acceptance and show tolerance of other people’s shortcomings. Forgiveness is not just about how we relate to others; it’s also how you relate to and feel about yourself.
Lastly, there is your BQ, or body intelligence, which reflects what you know about your body, how you feel about it, and take care of it. Your body is constantly telling you things; are you listening to the signals or ignoring them? Are you eating energy-giving or energy-draining foods on a daily basis? Are you getting enough rest? Do you exercise and take care of your body? It may seem like these matters are unrelated to business performance, but your body intelligence absolutely affects your work because it largely determines your feelings, thoughts, self-confidence, state of mind, and energy level.
Top Tip For Improvement: At least once a day, listen to the messages your body is sending you about your health. Actively monitor these signals instead of going on autopilot. Good nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate rest are all key aspects of having a high BQ. Monitoring your weight, practicing moderation with alcohol, and making sure you have down time can dramatically benefit the functioning of your brain and the way you perform at work.
What You Really Need To Succeed
It doesn’t matter if you did not receive the best academic training from a top university. A person with less education who has fully developed their EQ, MQ, and BQ can be far more successful than a person with an impressive education who falls short in these other categories.
Yes, it is certainly good to be an intelligent, rational thinker and have a high IQ; this is an important asset. But you must realize that it is not enough. Your IQ will help you personally, but EQ, MQ, and BQ will benefit everyone around you as well. If you can master the complexities of these unique and often under-rated forms of intelligence, research tells us you will achieve greater success and be regarded as more professionally competent and capable.