How to Identify & Prevent Theft in Your Aesthetic Practice
As an aesthetic practice owner or administrator, the idea of theft in your workplace can be a difficult pill to swallow. Unfortunately, it’s a reality that many aesthetic practices, and businesses overall, face.
Theft is not just about money. It can involve stealing office supplies, products, prescriptions, time and even patients. That’s why it’s important to have processes in place to prevent theft from happening in the first place. In this blog post, we will discuss effective strategies and best practices, so you know how to identify and prevent theft in your aesthetic practice. By implementing these measures, you can protect your business and ensure a safe and secure environment for everyone.
Prevent Staff Theft in Your Aesthetic Practice: Importance of Security Measures and Cameras
To prevent theft, use security cameras in places like your reception area, inventory room and cash box area. Be sure to respect patient privacy by not installing cameras in treatment rooms or bathrooms without their consent. However, if a patient’s belongings are left unattended, having cameras in the room can provide evidence in case of theft (we’ve seen a case where an employee stole from a patient’s handbag!), and even minimize the chance of it happening in the first place.
You have a responsibility as an aesthetic practice owner or administrator to prevent employee theft and embezzlement by implementing effective security measures and processes. Set strict guidelines and have zero-tolerance policies in place to reduce the risk of employee theft, prevent significant financial losses and damages to your reputation.
Stealing of Cash & Accepting Payments in the Room
Managing finances effectively is crucial in any business. It is especially important in your aesthetic practice where theft can occur in different forms. While stealing cash from the cash drawer is a common form of theft, other types of theft can also relate to money. For example, a provider may collect payment in the treatment room, allowing the patient to pay an excessive tip which they can embezzle. Additionally, using a credit card system, even at the front desk area, with a gratuity line can also lead to manipulation of the payment process to receive additional gratuity. Thus, the practice should consider whether accepting gratuities for providers is appropriate and it is essential to be vigilant and take necessary precautions to prevent theft.
It is also important to not accept cash payments without depositing them daily. Waiting to deposit an abundance of cash can create an unaccounted amount that cannot be taxed, which is something you want to avoid. Be sure to make a deposit for any cash received each day, even if it does not reach the bank that day. This creates an audit trail that accurately reflects the amount of money received each day. By implementing these processes, you can prevent theft and ensure that your financial records are accurate. So, make sure to put these practices in place and stay on top of your finances to protect your hard work.
Stealing of Office Supplies
Be vigilant about consumables and disposables in your aesthetic practice. Every time you perform a procedure, there is a cost associated with every piece of supply that you use. It is essential to keep track of where every unit of filler syringes, neurotoxin bottles and any other procedural supply, goes.
In Episode 78 of Shorr Solutions: The podcast, our CEO and Founder of Shorr Solutions, Jay Shorr, shares a horror story. During an audit of a client’s practice in Orlando, Florida, Jay discovered that a Physician Assistant (PA) working for the provider was taking extra Thermage tips and using them at another practice. The PA would then charge the other practice for the stolen tip and get paid for the procedure as well. The PA was an independent contractor and not bound by a non-compete agreement. Yet, this behavior would still be considered stealing. As a result of the incident plus the solicitation of patients from that PA to the other practice, the practice owner faced severe consequences and ultimately went out of business.
To prevent situations like this from happening to you, keep a spreadsheet to list your supplies and number them. This way you know where every unit of consumable and disposable goes and avoid theft in your aesthetic practice. In addition, be careful of employees running a business within your business. Sometimes employees may take products home or sell them to other patients. Therefore, it is crucial to be vigilant about consumables and disposables to avoid theft and ensure that your patients receive the proper treatment they deserve. Remember, any loss of consumables is a loss of revenue, and it is essential to keep track of everything to avoid any potential problems.
Red Flags: Identifying & Preventing Theft in Your Aesthetic Practice
There are different ways someone might steal your office supplies from you in your aesthetic practice. For example:
A provider may overcharge a patient for a treatment or procedure at your practice. For example, instead of billing for 20 units of neurotoxin, they may charge for 30 units. This allows the provider to keep the extra units and use them for themselves or sell them to others. To prevent this, we recommend to have providers charge by the area they treat instead of by the unit. Charging by the area discourages providers from taking excess units.
Neurotoxin Theft by Dilution
The second way that providers can steal neurotoxin products from you is by diluting them with saline. This way, providers can inject more patients with less product and keep the excess for themselves or sell it. One way to detect this practice is by noticing an inordinate amount of non-responders to the product. After contacting the manufacturer and sending them some samples to analyze, one can determine whether the product was over-diluted. It is important to contact the manufacturer when multiple patients do not “respond” to the same lot product number.
“Broken” Glass-Container Theft
The third way theft can occur is when a staff member repeatedly reports broken glass-container products. For instance, a Physician Assistant may conduct off-site events on behalf of the owner or administrator and inform them that a few bottles have broken. However, they fail to return any remaining product, claiming that it has been discarded. This is a serious red flag. You can prevent this by implementing a protocol that requires staff members to return any broken glass and remaining product. If the glass with the top still on is returned, most manufacturers offer credit for broken bottles. By instructing your staff to follow this protocol, you can reduce the risk of this type of theft occurring.
Cash Theft Through EMR/EHR Manipulation
Another common method of theft involves a staff member entering a procedure into the EMR or EHR system, accepting payment in cash, and subsequently deleting the record to steal the cash. To prevent this, it’s crucial to have strong controls and processes in place. When creating these processes, be aware that staff who claim to be too busy to follow them may be a red flag.
To learn more about red flags, so you know how to identify and prevent theft in your aesthetic practice, be sure to read the article, “Embezzlement, Fraud and Theft in Aesthetic Practice” Written by our CEO and Founder, Jay Shorr, for Prime VCS.
If you’re running or managing an aesthetic practice, it’s important to take theft prevention seriously. There are many creative ways that people can steal from you, and it’s crucial to be overcautious. Whether it’s using an old-school spreadsheet or inventory management software, make sure to have strong inventory control. Talk to the companies you work with about their inventory control options and regularly review your financials with a third-party consultant (like Shorr Solutions) or accountant to ensure there is no potential for theft. It’s also wise to have someone review camera footage if there is any discrepancy. Don’t let the fox watch the henhouse, and always prioritize policies, procedures, and control. As you do, you will identify and prevent theft in your practice.
Schedule Your Free Consult & Learn More!
If you want to maximize profit, reduce costs and ultimately thrive in your aesthetic practice, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of experts for coaching! Schedule a free consult with our award-winning expert, Jay Shorr, to make sure that you’re on the right path to success!
To learn more about how to identify signs of theft in your aesthetic practice, be sure to listen to episode 78 of Shorr Solutions: The Podcast! where our CEO and Founder, Jay Shorr, and our former partner, Mara Shorr, explore this topic in great detail.
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About Shorr Solutions:
Shorr Solutions is an award-winning practice management consulting company with offices in South and Central Florida. We work with aesthetic medical practices in all 50 states of the U.S. to help them strengthen the operational, financial, and administrative health of their business. With decades of industry experience, our father-daughter partners, Jay Shorr and Mara Shorr, lead our knowledgeable team of experts to assist practices in the aesthetic medical fields increase efficiency, increase revenue, and decrease their costs.
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