ADA and Pop Cap Games – a Halloween alternative to sugary snacks

Many of you know I am a fan of the family-friendly Plants vs. Zombies app and game and play it regularly on my iPad. I was happy to learn the ADA and Pop Cap Games (developer of Plants vs. Zombies) have created a partnership and a program called Stop Zombie Mouth. To celebrate Halloween with your patients, or as a giveaway at your practice or home, member dentists can order Zombie trading cards featuring the the characters in the game Plants vs. Zombies.  Instead of sugary treats, patients can get cool trading cards with download codes, and a great healthcare message.  These trading cards can be ordered from the ADA catalog of products for free plus a nominal shipping charge.  Game coupons can also be downloaded for free at the website www.stopzombiemouth.com. Check out the website, it has tips, fun facts, freebies to download like coloring pages, an Halloween party invite and several others.  What a fun way to differentiate your practice this Halloween!!

Dental Fees are on the Web for your Patients

There are websites designed to help consumers estimate what dental services will cost them. One for you and your team to check out is:
http://www.fairhealthconsumer.org
On their website they state: “Fair Health is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help consumers understand the out-of-network reimbursement system and estimate out-of-network medical and dental costs. Our free website has an easy-to-use cost estimator tool to help with your health care expense planning. We also offer clear and unbiased educational articles and videos about the medical and dental reimbursement system.”

Fair Health was formed in 2009 as a result of a fraud investigation by then NY State’s Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. The ADA granted access to the CDT codes in February of 2011. They will have medical information available in August of 2011.

We have always recommended that you submit your full fee to the insurance company on a dental claim form. It now becomes even more important to not submit contractually discounted fees.  Not only because this will skew the maximum allowable fees determined by carriers based on data submitted by practices but it will skew the costs posted on websites like Fair Health. This will cause consumers to question the fees you are charging when they have a “non-biased” resource about what your fees “should” be.

Have a team meeting and make sure everyone knows about this website and how your fees compare to what is posted on the Fair Health website. Talk about how to deal with patient’s concerns and what to say. As always if you need help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Embezzlement: Dentistry’s dirty little secret

Here is an article from DrBicuspid.com that suggests that over 60% of dentists will be victims of fraud.  Read about Dr. Gordon Christensen’s experience.  Make sure that you have embezzlement safeguards in place in your practice! Not sure? Contact us.

Embezzlement: Dentistry’s dirty little secret

By Donna Domino, Associate Editor

April 29, 2011 — Sometimes it’s a spouse, girlfriend, relative, accountant, or business partner.

Unfortunately, more often it’s a trusted, longtime employee who has an insider’s knowledge of your bookkeeping practices and access to your bank account.

Maybe their spouse has been out of work for months and, desperate for money, they begin embezzling from the practice and “cooking the books” to cover their tracks.

But experts say it is often just a matter of greed.

Dental practice embezzlement is not an anomaly; in fact, it’s shockingly pervasive. Some fraud investigators say that 60% of dentists will be victims of fraud during their careers, while others put the figure as high as 90%.

Even Gordon Christensen, DDS, MSD, PhD, and his wife Rella Christensen, RDH, PhD, have been victimized — not once, but twice — by employees who stole from their nonprofit research group, CRA, now called the Clinicians Report.

“It’s often the most trusted employee,” he told DrBicuspid.com.

The first theft involved a woman accountant who seemed extraordinarily dedicated to her job: She came in early and left late. She was also intent on being the only one in the office who made financial entries. She was eventually discovered after the office’s door activator recorded her coming into the office at 3 a.m.

“This is usually a person that you think is working hard and is the most trusted employee.”
— Gordon Christensen, DDS, MSD, PhD

“She was rigging the numbers and embezzling an enormous amount,” Dr. Christensen said. CRA took the case to a state job court, where the bookkeeper/accountant somehow twice avoided being held responsible. Finally Rella filed a civil lawsuit against her and won, but the situation took a toll on the Christensens — especially after the accountant’s husband, who worked for an explosives company, threatened them and even tried to run down Rella with his SUV.

“We did win, but I don’t know if it was worth it,” Dr. Christensen recalled. “The endeavor cost many thousands of dollars and lots of time, effort, energy, worry, and grief.”

The second embezzlement involved a young man, a former missionary, who was responsible for depositing funds from German subscriptions for the Christensens’ research group into German banks.

Despite growing subscription levels, revenue was mysteriously going down, which made Rella suspicious. The Christensens eventually discovered that he had embezzled more than $200,000 over several years.

“At first it was deny, deny, deny,” Dr. Christensen said. “He finally admitted it and brought his parents in, who apologized and wanted to repay the money.”

While many embezzlers involve people who’ve had a run of bad luck, these individuals had no extenuating circumstances that motivated them to steal.

“It was simple greed,” Dr. Christensen said. “It’s just appalling that people do this.”

Should you prosecute?

David Harris, who runs dental fraud investigation company Prosperident, investigates up to 100 dental fraud cases per year using four forensic examiners, but he says he could keep 15 inspectors busy. In the U.S., 5,000 to 6,000 dentists per year will be fraud victims, he told DrBicuspid.com.

“It’s just so endemic in dentistry,” he said.

Most embezzlers steal about $100,000, but Harris said the biggest theft he’s uncovered totaled $612,000. Insurance only covers so much. Most policies have a fraud coverage maximum of $75,000, he said, adding that some dentists have no insurance to cover thefts.

Office managers, receptionists, and anyone with front desk access are usually the culprits, Harris noted, and the majority of frauds are committed by people who’ve been with the practice more than five years.

Often, normally honest people are driven by desperate circumstances to steal from their employers, he said.

“Something happens that puts their back to the wall,” Harris explained. “A spouse loses their job or dies, or narcotics or gambling problems threaten their basic financial existence.”

Only about 20% of dentists prosecute the embezzlers, he said. In Harris’ experience, several chose not to because the thief was a relative, girlfriend, or a staffer they were having an affair with and they didn’t want their wives to find out. Some dentists don’t prosecute because they are engaged in illegal activities themselves, such as insurance fraud, he added.

In one case, after Harris uncovered a staffer’s theft, she warned Harris that the dentist should think twice before pressing charges because she “had the goods” on him.

“She knew the dentist had been inflating procedures on insurance claims,” he said.

Harris described the dentist’s reaction to the embezzler’s ominous threat. “He sort of turned pale and said, ‘I didn’t think this would be an issue.’ ”

Not surprisingly, the dentist decided not to report the theft.

But sometimes practitioners decline to file charges because they’re embarrassed. A periodontist who lost more than $100,000 to an employee decided to drop the matter. “If this becomes public, all the general practitioners will think I’m an idiot and will stop referring to me,” he explained to Harris.

While checking references is a good idea, it does little to prevent theft because in most cases, the potential embezzler is already on staff, Harris said.

“The thief isn’t going to quit and go someplace else to steal. They’ll just find a weak spot in the system,” he said. “They need money and their ethics become pliable. You trust them and they know what you look at on a monthly basis, so they have all the advantages.”

Like Dr. Christensen, many dentists have been victimized by fraud more than once. One periodontist Harris worked with was the victim of embezzlement three times. “He had a big office with about 15 staffers,” he said. “It’s the law of numbers.”

And even if the thief is successfully prosecuted, few ever serve jail time, Harris said. Generally, it’s a first offense, they usually have no criminal background, and there are mitigating circumstances. Embezzlers will plead hardship, telling judges that they were forced to steal to pay for their son’s kidney transplant, he said, which in one case was true.

Initially, many dentists who’ve suffered thefts are reluctant to file charges against employees who they’ve known for a long time. But insurers require that dentists file a police report if they want to file a fraud claim.

“They feel bad for the employee and say, ‘She was like family. I don’t want her to go to jail,’ ” Harris said. “The majority say they don’t want anything bad to happen to the person. But as the dentist sees what the person has done to him, they get mad.” After the investigation is over, more are inclined to prosecute, he said.

Usually, embezzlers are caught when something unforeseen occurs. One woman’s stealing came to light when she broke her leg skiing and couldn’t come to work after not missing a day in five years. “The dentist brought in a replacement worker who, after a few days, said, ‘Something doesn’t make sense here.’ She had gotten questions from patients who had paid by cash but had received statements that looked like they paid by credit card,” Harris said.

Dentists who’ve been defrauded by longtime employees understandably feel betrayed, Harris said. “They’re mad, hurt, confused,” he said. “They feel they can’t trust anyone afterward.”

“The thing that hits me hardest,” Dr. Christensen noted, “is this is usually a person that you think is working hard and is the most trusted employee.”

More Thyroid Guard Information

Check out the information on Thyroid Guards  and dental xrays on www.snopes.com .  It is important for dental teams to know what the public is hearing and reading.  Have a discussion with your team on radiation safety and handling patient concerns. Have a consistent, caring message when addressing these inquiries.

In The News: Dr. Oz

This information was sent to me and I thought I should share it, as so many patients watch Dr. Oz.  Our hope is that it will allow you to be proactive in addressing patient concerns over dental x-rays and how you protect the thyroid with your use of the lead neck collar.  This would be a great agenda item for your next team meeting.

On Wednesday, Dr. Oz had a show on the fastest growing cancer in women, thyroid cancer.  It was a very interesting program and he mentioned that the increase could possibly be related to the use of dental x-rays and mammograms.  He demonstrated that on the apron the dentist puts on you for your dental x-rays there is a little flap that can be lifted up and wrapped around your neck.  Many dentists don’t bother to use it.  Also, there is something called a “thyroid guard” for use during mammograms.  By coincidence, I had my yearly mammogram yesterday. I felt a little silly, but I asked about the guard and sure enough, the technician had one in a drawer. I asked why it wasn’t routinely used. Answer: “I don’t know.  You have to ask for it.” Well, if I hadn’t seen the show, how would I have known to ask?  

ADA and Pop Cap Games – a Halloween alternative to sugary snacks

Many of you know I am a fan of the family-friendly Plants vs. Zombies app and game and play it regularly on my iPad. I was happy to learn the ADA and Pop Cap Games (developer of Plants vs. Zombies) have created a partnership and a program called Stop Zombie Mouth. To celebrate Halloween with your patients, or as a giveaway at your practice or home, member dentists can order Zombie trading cards featuring the the characters in the game Plants vs. Zombies.  Instead of sugary treats, patients can get cool trading cards with download codes, and a great healthcare message.  These trading cards can be ordered from the ADA catalog of products for free plus a nominal shipping charge.  Game coupons can also be downloaded for free at the website www.stopzombiemouth.com. Check out the website, it has tips, fun facts, freebies to download like coloring pages, an Halloween party invite and several others.  What a fun way to differentiate your practice this Halloween!!

Dental Fees are on the Web for your Patients

There are websites designed to help consumers estimate what dental services will cost them. One for you and your team to check out is:
http://www.fairhealthconsumer.org
On their website they state: “Fair Health is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help consumers understand the out-of-network reimbursement system and estimate out-of-network medical and dental costs. Our free website has an easy-to-use cost estimator tool to help with your health care expense planning. We also offer clear and unbiased educational articles and videos about the medical and dental reimbursement system.”

Fair Health was formed in 2009 as a result of a fraud investigation by then NY State’s Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. The ADA granted access to the CDT codes in February of 2011. They will have medical information available in August of 2011.

We have always recommended that you submit your full fee to the insurance company on a dental claim form. It now becomes even more important to not submit contractually discounted fees.  Not only because this will skew the maximum allowable fees determined by carriers based on data submitted by practices but it will skew the costs posted on websites like Fair Health. This will cause consumers to question the fees you are charging when they have a “non-biased” resource about what your fees “should” be.

Have a team meeting and make sure everyone knows about this website and how your fees compare to what is posted on the Fair Health website. Talk about how to deal with patient’s concerns and what to say. As always if you need help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Embezzlement: Dentistry’s dirty little secret

Here is an article from DrBicuspid.com that suggests that over 60% of dentists will be victims of fraud.  Read about Dr. Gordon Christensen’s experience.  Make sure that you have embezzlement safeguards in place in your practice! Not sure? Contact us.

Embezzlement: Dentistry’s dirty little secret

By Donna Domino, Associate Editor

April 29, 2011 — Sometimes it’s a spouse, girlfriend, relative, accountant, or business partner.

Unfortunately, more often it’s a trusted, longtime employee who has an insider’s knowledge of your bookkeeping practices and access to your bank account.

Maybe their spouse has been out of work for months and, desperate for money, they begin embezzling from the practice and “cooking the books” to cover their tracks.

But experts say it is often just a matter of greed.

Dental practice embezzlement is not an anomaly; in fact, it’s shockingly pervasive. Some fraud investigators say that 60% of dentists will be victims of fraud during their careers, while others put the figure as high as 90%.

Even Gordon Christensen, DDS, MSD, PhD, and his wife Rella Christensen, RDH, PhD, have been victimized — not once, but twice — by employees who stole from their nonprofit research group, CRA, now called the Clinicians Report.

“It’s often the most trusted employee,” he told DrBicuspid.com.

The first theft involved a woman accountant who seemed extraordinarily dedicated to her job: She came in early and left late. She was also intent on being the only one in the office who made financial entries. She was eventually discovered after the office’s door activator recorded her coming into the office at 3 a.m.

“This is usually a person that you think is working hard and is the most trusted employee.”
— Gordon Christensen, DDS, MSD, PhD

“She was rigging the numbers and embezzling an enormous amount,” Dr. Christensen said. CRA took the case to a state job court, where the bookkeeper/accountant somehow twice avoided being held responsible. Finally Rella filed a civil lawsuit against her and won, but the situation took a toll on the Christensens — especially after the accountant’s husband, who worked for an explosives company, threatened them and even tried to run down Rella with his SUV.

“We did win, but I don’t know if it was worth it,” Dr. Christensen recalled. “The endeavor cost many thousands of dollars and lots of time, effort, energy, worry, and grief.”

The second embezzlement involved a young man, a former missionary, who was responsible for depositing funds from German subscriptions for the Christensens’ research group into German banks.

Despite growing subscription levels, revenue was mysteriously going down, which made Rella suspicious. The Christensens eventually discovered that he had embezzled more than $200,000 over several years.

“At first it was deny, deny, deny,” Dr. Christensen said. “He finally admitted it and brought his parents in, who apologized and wanted to repay the money.”

While many embezzlers involve people who’ve had a run of bad luck, these individuals had no extenuating circumstances that motivated them to steal.

“It was simple greed,” Dr. Christensen said. “It’s just appalling that people do this.”

Should you prosecute?

David Harris, who runs dental fraud investigation company Prosperident, investigates up to 100 dental fraud cases per year using four forensic examiners, but he says he could keep 15 inspectors busy. In the U.S., 5,000 to 6,000 dentists per year will be fraud victims, he told DrBicuspid.com.

“It’s just so endemic in dentistry,” he said.

Most embezzlers steal about $100,000, but Harris said the biggest theft he’s uncovered totaled $612,000. Insurance only covers so much. Most policies have a fraud coverage maximum of $75,000, he said, adding that some dentists have no insurance to cover thefts.

Office managers, receptionists, and anyone with front desk access are usually the culprits, Harris noted, and the majority of frauds are committed by people who’ve been with the practice more than five years.

Often, normally honest people are driven by desperate circumstances to steal from their employers, he said.

“Something happens that puts their back to the wall,” Harris explained. “A spouse loses their job or dies, or narcotics or gambling problems threaten their basic financial existence.”

Only about 20% of dentists prosecute the embezzlers, he said. In Harris’ experience, several chose not to because the thief was a relative, girlfriend, or a staffer they were having an affair with and they didn’t want their wives to find out. Some dentists don’t prosecute because they are engaged in illegal activities themselves, such as insurance fraud, he added.

In one case, after Harris uncovered a staffer’s theft, she warned Harris that the dentist should think twice before pressing charges because she “had the goods” on him.

“She knew the dentist had been inflating procedures on insurance claims,” he said.

Harris described the dentist’s reaction to the embezzler’s ominous threat. “He sort of turned pale and said, ‘I didn’t think this would be an issue.’ ”

Not surprisingly, the dentist decided not to report the theft.

But sometimes practitioners decline to file charges because they’re embarrassed. A periodontist who lost more than $100,000 to an employee decided to drop the matter. “If this becomes public, all the general practitioners will think I’m an idiot and will stop referring to me,” he explained to Harris.

While checking references is a good idea, it does little to prevent theft because in most cases, the potential embezzler is already on staff, Harris said.

“The thief isn’t going to quit and go someplace else to steal. They’ll just find a weak spot in the system,” he said. “They need money and their ethics become pliable. You trust them and they know what you look at on a monthly basis, so they have all the advantages.”

Like Dr. Christensen, many dentists have been victimized by fraud more than once. One periodontist Harris worked with was the victim of embezzlement three times. “He had a big office with about 15 staffers,” he said. “It’s the law of numbers.”

And even if the thief is successfully prosecuted, few ever serve jail time, Harris said. Generally, it’s a first offense, they usually have no criminal background, and there are mitigating circumstances. Embezzlers will plead hardship, telling judges that they were forced to steal to pay for their son’s kidney transplant, he said, which in one case was true.

Initially, many dentists who’ve suffered thefts are reluctant to file charges against employees who they’ve known for a long time. But insurers require that dentists file a police report if they want to file a fraud claim.

“They feel bad for the employee and say, ‘She was like family. I don’t want her to go to jail,’ ” Harris said. “The majority say they don’t want anything bad to happen to the person. But as the dentist sees what the person has done to him, they get mad.” After the investigation is over, more are inclined to prosecute, he said.

Usually, embezzlers are caught when something unforeseen occurs. One woman’s stealing came to light when she broke her leg skiing and couldn’t come to work after not missing a day in five years. “The dentist brought in a replacement worker who, after a few days, said, ‘Something doesn’t make sense here.’ She had gotten questions from patients who had paid by cash but had received statements that looked like they paid by credit card,” Harris said.

Dentists who’ve been defrauded by longtime employees understandably feel betrayed, Harris said. “They’re mad, hurt, confused,” he said. “They feel they can’t trust anyone afterward.”

“The thing that hits me hardest,” Dr. Christensen noted, “is this is usually a person that you think is working hard and is the most trusted employee.”

More Thyroid Guard Information

Check out the information on Thyroid Guards  and dental xrays on www.snopes.com .  It is important for dental teams to know what the public is hearing and reading.  Have a discussion with your team on radiation safety and handling patient concerns. Have a consistent, caring message when addressing these inquiries.

In The News: Dr. Oz

This information was sent to me and I thought I should share it, as so many patients watch Dr. Oz.  Our hope is that it will allow you to be proactive in addressing patient concerns over dental x-rays and how you protect the thyroid with your use of the lead neck collar.  This would be a great agenda item for your next team meeting.

On Wednesday, Dr. Oz had a show on the fastest growing cancer in women, thyroid cancer.  It was a very interesting program and he mentioned that the increase could possibly be related to the use of dental x-rays and mammograms.  He demonstrated that on the apron the dentist puts on you for your dental x-rays there is a little flap that can be lifted up and wrapped around your neck.  Many dentists don’t bother to use it.  Also, there is something called a “thyroid guard” for use during mammograms.  By coincidence, I had my yearly mammogram yesterday. I felt a little silly, but I asked about the guard and sure enough, the technician had one in a drawer. I asked why it wasn’t routinely used. Answer: “I don’t know.  You have to ask for it.” Well, if I hadn’t seen the show, how would I have known to ask?