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Should You Spy On Your Office?

Who do you trust?

If you had a staff member who was rude to your patients, wouldn’t you want to know about it?  Or worse, what if they were stealing money?  What about time theft (a.k.a. fudging time clocks)?

Perhaps you have an employee that just gives you a funny feeling.  Or perhaps you work in a large office and you can’t possibly keep track of all of the staff.  There are several lecturers on the circuit who share heartbreaking stories about employee embezzlement and give tips on how to avoid it.  This has prompted dentists to take all kinds of measures to protect themselves, even installing security cameras.  Are they just being paranoid?

Some industries routinely use security cameras.  Employee theft is commonplace in bars and restaurants while customer theft is always a threat in retail stores.  But what about dental offices?

Personally I think that security cameras are going too far.  It may be essential in the restaurant industry, but we’re healthcare professionals.  It sends a nasty message to the staff.  There are better, more positive ways to keep tabs on them and make sure they deserve your trust.

I recommend looking at certain reports periodically.  Checking the pulse of your practice can reveal staff errors without having to hover over their shoulders.  Get a formal time clock (a feature of digital practice management systems) and take a peek every now and then.  Check to see if employees are consistently altering their hours.  Occasionally you can cross reference these hours with your payroll records to make sure there are no goofs.  Mistakes can happen, but continual mistakes may be a sign that an employee shouldn’t have your trust.

If you’re curious about how your team acts when you’re not around, you still don’t need a security camera.  Have friends or relatives come in for new patient visits but don’t let your staff know about the connection.  These patients can give you some great information about how they were greeted on the phone, how billing was explained, and so on.  I don’t consider that spying; it’s gaining genuine insight from a trusted source.

Hopefully you have a wonderful team and no one ever steals thousands of dollars from you.  And I hope you keep a charismatic staff who are a pleasure to work with.  But being a business owner requires that we keep a little suspicion inside ourselves.  We must be vigilant against theft, inferior work, and bad attitudes.  Fortunately we can maintain the necessary level of vigilance without slipping into paranoia.


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