Licenses, Licenses and More Licenses

By Graham Nicol, Esq., Health Care Risk Manager, Board Certified Specialist (Health Law)

I have a valid dental license in the state of Florida — that’s all I need to practice here, right? Wrong. As just one example: you’ll also need an occupational license — maybe even more than one! Occupational licenses are required by county ordinance and city regulations, not state law. Any business operating within city limits may have to get a county license as well as a city license.

Not feeling the love? It gets worse, ‘cause you’ll also need a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) — kind of like a social security number, but for a corporation instead of a natural person — and a National Provider Identification number (NPI).

You see, all four levels of government want to regulate you to protect the public from unsavory characters. Unfortunately, the only way government can keep these nasty people off the streets is to charge each licensee an annual fee for the privilege of practicing your chosen profession and feeding your family.

So, don’t forget: Get all your licenses and keep all branches of government well-funded.

This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. If you have a specific concern or need legal advice regarding your dental practice, you should contact a qualified attorney.

5 Best Practices to Enhance Your Practice Performance and Productivity

By Melvina MacDonald, Employee Assistance Program Director, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Inc.

“I feel like if I go on like this, I will get sick.”

“I can’t think, I am confused …”

“I have too much stress at home and work.”

“I need to go home, I can’t do this anymore.”

“I need help.”

These are statements made daily by employees seeking help through our Employee Assistance Program. As employee assistance and mental health professionals, we have been in a position to help employees cope with the multitude of competing priorities both at work and home.

Stress has become a common and costly problem in the American workforce. More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress, with low salaries, lack of opportunities for advancement and heavy workloads topping the list of contributing factors (American Psychological Association 2013b). Job stress is estimated to cost U.S. employers $300 billion a year in absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover and direct medical, legal and insurance fees. Dental practices also struggle with these same employer challenges.

The American Psychological Association Center for Organizational Excellence has identified psychologically healthy workplaces as a win-win both for both employers and employees. A psychologically healthy workplace fosters employee health and well-being while enhancing practice performance. The following are five evidence-based practices to support employers with improving their work environment:

  1. Employee Involvement: Look for ways to involve employees in decision making. Provide channels for open two-way communication.
  2. Health and Safety: Provide access to an employee assistance program and mental health and substance abuse services, prioritize safe practices and communicate concern for employee safety. Provide programs that promote a healthy lifestyle and the prevention and management of workplace stress.
  3. Employee Growth and Development: Provide skills training and leadership development; seek opportunities to provide avenues for career advancement.
  4. Work-life Balance: Consider personal and family needs; look for means to offer flexibility in work schedules. Offer flexible benefit plans.
  5. Employee Recognition: Develop a program for individual and team recognition.

By applying psychologically healthy workplace practices, any dental practice has the potential to activate all the resources of its workforce in meeting the mission of the practice.

“You can have the best strategy and the best building in the world, but if you don’t have the hearts and minds of the people who work with you, none of it comes to life.”  ~ Renee West, Lexor and Excalibur Hotel

For further information about psychologically healthy workplaces and their successes, go to www.phwa.org, or for information regarding the Tallahassee Memorial Employee Assistance Program, go to www.tmh.org/eap.

5 Ways to Reduce Embezzlement Risk

By Julian Dozier, CPA, ABV, CFF, CFE, Thomas Howell Ferguson P.A. CPAs​

You work hard in your practice, enjoy spending time with your patients, and do your best to manage your office staff and bookkeeping. While you’d rather be spending time on the medical side of your practice, you understand the importance of being involved in the business side of your practice. No one wants to think their employees would steal from their company, but every organization faces the risk. So, do you have a sound system of internal controls in place to mitigate the risk?

Here are five simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of employee embezzlement:

1. Conduct background checks. Your employees may have access to your financial information, bank accounts, prescription pads and expensive medical supplies. Be sure to conduct background checks before hiring any employee, and make it your policy to update those checks at least every two years for financial personnel.

2. Segregation of duties. Financial tasks should be assigned so that no single employee is responsible for authorizing transactions, maintaining custody of assets and resources, recording transactions and reconciling accounts. While it’s best for all four of those functions to be segregated, be sure no single employee is responsible for more than two of them. As an example, if an employee can authorize payments to vendors, they should not be authorized to add vendors to the accounting system, print and sign checks, or reconcile the bank account.

3. Oversight is important. The perception of detection can be as important as any other internal control your practice puts in place. If employees know their work is being checked, and that the bank accounts are being reconciled and verified, they are less likely to embezzle.

4. Know your bank account. For assets like cash that — when there are poor internal controls — can be embezzled quickly and easily concealed, you need to do more. Receive each monthly bank statement directly (unopened) and review it for unusual or unexpected activity. Ask questions. Know where your practice spends its money and who is authorizing those transactions. Quickly spotting unauthorized bank activity is critical to minimizing your risk of embezzlement.

5. Get outside help. Find a local certified public accountant (CPA) to conduct periodic checkups at your practice. Your CPA can help you design internal controls, implement best practices and conduct random checks to see that your employees are following approved policies and procedures.

Julian Dozier is a CPA with the accounting firm Thomas Howell Ferguson P.A. He specializes in forensic audits and litigation support related to for-profit and governmental enterprises. His certifications and designations include Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) and Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF). For more information, please visit www.thf-cpa.com/what-we-do.

Disability Overhead Insurance — Protect Your Practice!

By Dan Zottoli, Director of Sales – Atlantic Coast, FDA Services Inc.  

How hard have you worked to build your business? I would assume that all of you answered that in your head and came up with, “I WORK HARD!” Now, what if you became ill or injured and could no longer work? So much time, money and effort was spent building your practice — how do you protect what you have built to ensure that your practice can survive if something should happen to you and prevents you from seeing your patients?

Disability overhead insurance is designed to pay the practice expenses in the event that the dentist becomes disabled. Unlike personal disability insurance, disability overhead insurance policies are shorter in term. They are designed to pay a benefit for 12-24 months (in most cases) to keep the practice current on its financial obligations in the event a dentist becomes disabled. The idea behind this type of policy is simple. If you became disabled, you need money coming in until you develop a strategy for your next move. The duration of a disability will vary from case to case. By having cash coming in from a disability overhead insurance policy, you will have the time to determine whether you will be back to work or in permanent disability situations, when you will be back to work, whether to sell the practice or get an associate to come in to see the patients.

There are many factors to consider when looking at disability overhead insurance. The most important factor is finding the right agent to assist that can explain and clarify the details of each company. The FDA Services’ experienced staff is ready to get to work for you. For more information, contact FDA Services at 800.877.7597 or insurance@fdaservices.com.