Dental Office Embezzlement of $100,000 in Dental Insurance Payments

Dental Office Embezzlement of $100,000 in Dental Insurance PaymentsDental office embezzlement is still alive and well in California.

Deborah Lynn Kessler, 45, pleaded guilty to four counts of grand theft over charges that she embezzled more than $100,000 in dental insurance payments at the dental practice where where was manager.

The Orange County Register reports that Kessler signed dental insurance payments over to her personal bank accounts over the course of about three years. Investigators initially said she may have used the money to pay for an RV, boats and trips, and to cover her personal bills.

She was sentenced to two years in jail, plus an additional two more years of community supervision.

According to a 2010 Association of Certified Fraud Examiners report almost one-fourth of all embezzlement cases report losses of at least $1 million with smaller businesses being the most susceptible to fraud.

The average embezzlement scheme lasts for 18 months before detection.

The U.S Chamber of Commerce estimates that employee embezzlement costs American companies $20 billion to $40 billion a year. A long-term employee is 15 times more likely than a stranger to steal from a company.

Some of the best ways to prevent dental office embezzlement is by implementing a segregation of duties, keeping petty cash to a minimum and requiring dual signatures on checks.

Has your dental practice ever been the victim of employee embezzlement? What happened, and how did you handle it?

For more on the Orange County Register story see: Dental worker guilty of stealing more than $100,000

Dental Marketing: Top 10 Ways to Build Dental Website Backlinks

Dental Marketing: Top 10 Ways to Build Dental Website BacklinksLink building should still be an important part of your Internet dental marketing efforts.

Links to your dental website from other trusted websites is still one of the most underutilized SEO tools by dentists in their dental marketing plan. Adding just 5 to ten additional incoming links to your practice website can usually boost your search engine ranking by several pages.

The fastest way for a dentist to acquire links to a dental website is to ask for them.

But how do you get started?  Where do you look for links?  How do you acquire them?

To answer these questions and help you out, The Wealthy Dentist has put together the following–

 Top 10 Ways to Build Dental Website Backlinks

1.  Look to your dentist referral partnerships first.

Do you refer dental patients to a local orthodontist?  A periodontist?  A local oral surgeon? Dentists should start with what is considered low-hanging fruit when it comes to link sharing and link building.  Doctors in your referral network are a great place to start your link building campaign.  Links between similar businesses are some of the strongest links a dental practice can obtain to help with its SEO efforts.

2.  Look to your dental supplies and equipment companies next.

The easiest way to get a link back from a dental supply or equipment company is offer up a website testimonial with a link back to your website instead of listing your city.  It never hurts to ask, especially if you are a valued customer.

3.  Make sure your website is listed on the websites of any local organizations to which you belong.

Is your website listed with your local Chamber of Commerce website?  The Better Business Bureau?  Is your dental website listed with the Rotary club where you are a member?  Professional dental organizations not only can grow your professional network, but also can be a great source for link building to your dental website.

4. Dental patients, family and friends professional websites.

Do you have valued patients who have their own business websites who might link to you as “the best dentist in town?”  Do you have family and friends who have professional websites that would be willing to add a link back to your dental website?

5.  Establish your own presence on 3rd party review websites.

Business review websites like Yelp or DR. Oogle typically have their own community built around them. Ask your favorite dental patients to review your dental practice at these communities when they tell you how happy they are with a certain dental treatment you have just performed. See if you can’t build you own dental patient community around one of these 3rd party review websites.

6. Every social media website available to you.

Social media websites are valuable for SEO because of their sheer size and power. They are typically trusted by search engines and fairly easy to join. When dentists think social media has no real value, they are often forgetting about their link building capability. These sites don’t take long to join and all offer the ability to link back to your website in your profile. Think Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (you could just offer a few of your favorite YouTube videos if you don’t have dental practice videos of your own), Foursquare, Google Places, Pinterest, and Ning to name a few. Make sure to include your dental practice in as many dental directories as possible.

7. Press releases about you and your dental practice.

Press releases are an easy way to build links back to your dental practice website. Not to mention the fact that press releases are often picked up by local, regional and national news websites. There’s prnewswire.com, prweb.com, www.prlog.org, free-press-release.com, pr.com, I-newswire.com, PRBuzz.com, and more — just Google ‘press release distribution’ to see a full list of websites offering press release distribution services.

8. Create fun, comical or entertaining content.

Have you always fancied yourself as an artist with a sense of fun? Can you draw a fun dental cartoon? Can you create fun names for teeth so that people can remember which ones are located where in their mouth? Think about creating something fun that people want to share. An example of this is The Wealthy Dentist’s Dental Marketing: Social Media For Dentists Explained image where social media for dentists was explained in a light-hearted way.  Creating a resource page is another way to obtain links back to your dental website.  Your local city culture offers many resource page ideas like ‘inexpensive places to entertain children over the summer’ or ‘local clean bathrooms for public use’ (every mother who has children will love you for this list).  Even a list of all the local parks that allow dogs can be something your dental patients will want to share.

9.  Sponsor a local event.

Often local events have their own event websites that stay up long after the event has ended.  Think about your local little league or soccer leagues.  Being an event sponsor not only offers you involvement in your dental patient community but a chance to be featured on their websites.

10.   Writing guest articles for online publications.

Most blogs and online publications are always looking for experts in various fields to provide articles.  Get to know the local journalists in your community and introduce yourself as a go-to specialist on dental-related subjects.  Is there a popular blog in your niche where you can offer an expert opinion on teeth whitening, the latest in dental implants, or the proper way to brush your teeth to prevent cavities? There are many top mom bloggers who would love to share advice from dentists along with their regular blog articles.  Just make sure your guest articles always include a link back to your dental website.

Some of these top 10 link building techniques will work better for your dental practice than others.  It’s all about thinking outside the box when it comes to obtaining links back to your dental website. It is one of the most effective dental marketing tools you will ever spend time on.

What link building techniques have worked well for your dental practice website?

10 Top Ways Dentists Can Engage Dental Patients on Facebook

10 Top Ways Dentists Can Engage Dental Patients on FacebookMany dentists worry about the number of Facebook followers when they really should be worrying whether their followers are reading and enjoying what they are posting on Facebook.

The difference between Facebook and other dental marketing efforts is that a dental practice needs to invest a little bit of time on Facebook.

This small amount of extra time can go a long way and can even provide a rewarding experience as dental patients begin to provide feedback and communicate directly with you and your dental practice.

It really doesn’t require more than an hour a week, but you have to know exactly what works on Facebook so you aren’t wasting your valuable time and dental marketing efforts.

The Top 10 Ways Dentists Can Engage Dental Patients on Facebook

1. Ask questions.
Asking questions of your dental patients is a great way to engage them on your dental marketing Facebook Page. Ask them fun questions like what their favorite dental chair is in your office, or what they think of recent changes to Facebook (there are always changes to Facebook that you can ask them about). Facebook users love discussing Facebook.

2. Share personal stories with photos.
Share images of you and your office staff on Halloween when everyone is dressed in costume, or St. Patrick’s day when everyone is wearing green, but use these fun images as a way to engage your Facebook fans into sharing what it is about your dental practice they enjoy.

3. Hold a contest.
Create a contest strictly for your Facebook fans. Maybe host a Facebook trivia contest where your fans are asked to guess something about their favorite dentist… your favorite color, your favorite restaurant, your favorite hobby, etc., and offer a prize to the winner. Maybe, if they guess the right answer to your favorite restaurant, you can team up with that restaurant to offer the winner dinner for two as the prize.

4. Cross-promote neighborhood businesses.
Is there a local restaurant where you always enjoy lunch, or a place you like to take your children? Why not promote their Facebook Page? Do some of your patients have businesses you enjoy?  Think about talking about them and their business on your Facebook dental marketing page.

5. Post Facebook content when your dental patients are online.
Most dentists post their Facebook updates during the work day — not before 6:00am or after 6:00pm. Marketing research has discovered that content posted outside of 9:00am – 5:00pm timeframe had higher user engagement rates than posts made during the work day. Many working moms like to visit Facebook before their kids are up in the morning or after they have gone to bed.  Think about offering them something during these hours.

6. Share employee recognition.
Is there an employee whom your patients seem to love? Do you reward your employees on a regular basis? Think about sharing this recognition with your dental patient fans on Facebook.

7. Highlight your community service.
Does your dental practice sponsor a local baseball team or high school football team? Think about posting their game schedule or their losses and wins and ask your fans to attend their games in support. Ask patients to upload photos of the games they attend.

8. Use check-in deals on Facebook.
Facebook allows people to check-in to a business using the mobile Facebook app on their smart phone. To encourage your dental patients to use this app and make an appointment with your dental practice you can create a check-in deal for your page. Maybe you offer those patients who use this mobile marketing app something extra at your practice like a teeth whitening treatment they can use within the year.

9. Offer dental care tips.
Post dental care tips detailing ways in which your patients can take care of their teeth to avoid cavities, or gum disease. Think about all the ways you can help your dental patients protect their teeth, or offer signs of dental problems to watch out for — especially with their children.

10. Ask your followers for content.
Ask your Facebook fans for sugar-free recipes — or for ways they have convinced their small children to brush their teeth before bed. Ask your fans to offer up solutions to common issues with dental care. Highlight and talk about the best solutions from your fans.

Sit down and think about how you are utilizing Facebook for your dental practice and come up with a plan for interacting with your dental patients online.

I hope this inspires you to engage with your Facebook fans in new and compelling ways that add to your dental practice bottom line.

53% of Dentists Placing Dental Implants (video)

53% of Dentists Placing Dental Implants (video)Dental implants are quickly becoming the dental treatment of choice for dental patients with missing teeth, according to dentists who place dental implants.

Prosthodontists, periodontists and oral surgeons do all the dental implants, but so do general dentists.

Specialists claim that they are more qualified to place implants, but a lot of general dentists also place implants.

Due to the exponential growth in the placement of dental implants in recent years, The Wealthy Dentist conducted a survey asking dentists if they place their own dental implants.

Responded one dentist, “I place implants myself, but only in ideal situations.”

Another general dentist said, “After referring my dental patients to specialists and getting back poor work I thought: How much worse can I do? Now I offer implants.”

To hear more of what dentists had to say about dentists placing dental implants, Click on Play to watch the following video:

What are your thoughts on dentists placing dental implants?

Are you placing implants at your dental practice?

Dentists: Fake Negative Online Review Nets Business Owner 150K

Dentists: Fake Negative Online Review Nets Business Owner 150KOver the past three years The Wealthy Dentist has covered stories regarding negative online reviews and how dentists should handle them as part of an overall dental marketing strategy.

We’ve agreed that no one should be allowed to post an anonymous reviews against a dentist, because the costs to a dental practice can be high, and the dentist has little hope of investigating the circumstances to turn the situation around.

Not to mention the real possibility that the dentist might be dealing with an anonymous derogatory review that is actually fake.

The best a dentist could do was soften the impact of the negative review online is by responding with positive attributes about his or her dental practice. Any attempt to sue over a negative review always seemed to favor the poster of the review — not the recipient.

But it seems the courts are finally starting to take notice.

Recently, the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld a $150,000 putative damage reward to a plaintiff for defamation caused by 3 fake online reviews.

In 1999, Peter Mitchell and Michael Hosto co-founded a property damage restoration company. Their restoration business was so successful that in 2003 they created BoardUp, Inc., a lead generation service for restoration companies covering five area codes that encompassed significant portions of central and eastern Missouri and the southwestern portion of Illinois.

The partners successfully ran the companies for 4 years until a deterioration in their relationship and the commencement of litigation forced Mitchell and Hosto to dissolve their business associations by entering into a Settlement Agreement in 2007. As a result of the agreement Hosto ended up with BoardUp and Mitchell ended up with the restoration company.

But Hosto was apparently not happy with how the settlement came down.

Hosto went online and posted 3 fake negative reviews about Mitchell and his restoration work. According to court records the first two reviews were posted on March 31, 2008, on Google and Yahoo, respectively. In those fabricated reviews, Hosto used the names of prior customers of the restoration company to create detailed accounting of dealings with Mitchell that encouraged potential customers to avoid contracting with the company.

Here are 2 of the fake reviews:

1. 1st Review on Google (there were 2) –
Grade: F. Dealing with these people was the single biggest mistake I have ever made in my whole life. I[t] was a miserable experience and the job was done so poorly we decided to sell the house. They were great salesman [sic] but their workman [sic] were idiots and the owner was not willing to help in any way. I was so happy just to get them out of my life I paid them much more than I should have because their law firm threatened to lien my house if I disagree[d] with any part of their bill. All I can say is if they show up in your front yard in the middle of the night after your house catchs [sic] on fire, RUN! Do yourself a favor and call your insurance company and get a referal [sic] for legitimate business people.

2. Review on Yahoo –
They were a pain in the neck when I least needed one! Like the other guy [,] The Fire Works Restoration Company showed up in the middle of the night while the firemen where [sic] still putting out the fire. Their emergency board up guys were great. I liked them so much I decided maybe they weren’t so bad when a salesman from the Fire Works Restoration Company showed up the next day. Then they offered to do a “Free Estimate.” So [F]ire [W]orks was a lot higher than the other company. [T]hey got into a long drawn out fight about 1) the cost to remove the water and 2) the cost to dry out the house and 3) the cost to rebuild the house and 4) the cost to clean our stuff. The whole thing turned out to be such a nightmare that I figured it was just easier to deal with the insurance company contractor (the one these guys told me was gonna rip me off!!!!). [S]o when I told them I was not going with them then they sent me a bill even bigger than the first that the insurance company already said they didn’t want to pay. [T]he [F]ire [W]orks guy said it was a “supplement” and the first bill was not complete. [T]hey wanted an additional $1,700 more than the first bill (which was already too high!!!). Moral of the story–––people that seem nice usually are nice but not always.

As soon as Mitchell discovered the negative reviews, he initiated a “John Doe” lawsuit to ascertain the identity of the poster of the online reviews. Yahoo identified Mitchell’s ex-partner, Hosto as the person who posted the negative review on its website. Ultimately Hosto emailed Mitchell admitting that he had posted the negative reviews. Mitchell then brought a defamation suit against both Hosto personally and his company, BoardUp. In response, Hosto filed a counterclaim alleging defamation against Mitchell.

A jury agreed with Mitchell in his personal defamation claim against Hosto and only awarded him $1.00 in actual damages, but awarded him $150,000 in punitive damages. In addition, the jury rejected both Mitchell’s defamation claim against BoardUp and Hosto’s counterclaim against Mitchell.

At first review it might be hard to understand why the jury only awarded Mitchell $1.00 in actual damages, but this may be because it is difficult to prove that a potential customer who Mitchell has never done business with actually decided not to employ the services of his company based on a negative online review.

But the $150,000 in punitive damages does send the message that online posters are responsible for the negative reviews they leave online.

In a research study by Cone, Inc., they found that 80% of consumers have changed their mind about purchases based on negative information that they found online and 87% claimed that positive reviews reinforce their purchasing decisions.

In the future a dentist may very well be able to prove that his or her dental practice was adversely affected by a false negative review and will receive a more sizable actual damages amount.

Have you ever experienced a fake negative online review? How did you handle it?

For help in handling negative online reviews, see The Wealthy Dentist’s dental marketing article, Dental Marketing: A Guide for Avoiding Negative Online Reviews

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