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Accounting for Dentists

Dental bookkeeping and accounting services

The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that there are more than 201,000 practicing dentists in the United States.

This translates to about 61 dentists for every 100,000 people. ADA statistics also show that, on average, dental practice expenses are rising faster than practice revenue.

With financial pressures like this in today’s highly competitive marketplace, comprehensive and accurate financial reporting systems are essential for your practice’s long-term success and stability.

Dental practice accounting

Dental practices tend to be small and face unique operational and financial reporting challenges.

The ADA estimates that more than a third of today’s dentists are solo practices, and 40% of dental practices operate with a few dentists in one shared office. Small practices often lack comprehensive in-house accounting expertise, and many turn to external specialists for help with their unique operational and financial reporting challenges.

That’s where Padgett Advisors comes into play. We specialize in bookkeeping and accounting for dentists, including general practitioners, pediatric dentists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, orthodontists, periodontists, and other specialty practices.

More than one-third of dentists report feeling too busy or overworked, according to the ADA. We can help manage the financial side of your practice, allowing you to focus on the clinical aspects of dentistry.

Dental practice accounting

Among other things, a well-designed dental practice accounting process can help you:

  • Make informed decisions;
  • Maximize profitability;
  • Manage patient payments and insurance billing; and
  • Comply with applicable state and federal regulations.

Accurate, timely accounting information can help dentists monitor cash flow and collections from patients and insurance providers, identify areas where costs can be reduced, and plan for the future, including wealth building and business exit planning.

The specialists at Padgett have years of experience providing high-quality accounting services for dentists including:

Outsourced bookkeeping

Tracking revenue, collections, payroll, operating expenses, equipment purchases, and other financial transactions can be time-consuming for your office staff. Our dental bookkeeping specialists can handle these administrative chores directly for you on a weekly or monthly basis — or temporarily if your existing office manager unexpectedly leaves the practice.

The use of a trusted specialist in accounting for dentists gives you the peace of mind of knowing that transactions will be recorded in the appropriate accounts with detailed, accurate descriptions. This can alleviate headaches when it’s time to prepare your year-end financial statements and income tax returns.

Preparation of monthly and year-end financial statements

Comprehensive financial statements include three reports 1) the income statement, 2) the balance sheet, and 3) the statement of cash flows. These provide an overview of your dental practice’s financial health.

We offer prepared financial statements that comply with U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Alternatively, some small practices may prefer to issue cash-basis or tax-basis financial statements. We can help you determine what’s appropriate for your current situation.

Interim operating reports

Just like brushing your teeth daily isn’t enough to maintain good dental hygiene, year-end financial reporting isn’t enough for most practices. Effective dental accounting requires ongoing diligence. We can help you optimize patient and insurance billing, providing support as you deal with the complexity that insurance brings to your practice’s cash flow. We also can identify key metrics to help practice owners monitor financial performance on a real-time basis using weekly or monthly flash reports.

Common dental practice accounting and operating metrics include:

  • Average number of patient visits/billing per dentist;
  • Average dental assistant/hygienist work hours and time spent with patients;
  • Average wait time for scheduled patient visits;
  • Average billing per patient;
  • Patient no-shows/cancellations;
  • Composition of billings (direct patient payments vs. payments from private insurers vs. payments from government programs);
  • Cash and electronic funds transfer (EFT) receipts;
  • Available cash balances; and
  • Accounts receivables aging schedules.

High-tech equipment — such as dental probes, intraoral cameras, curing lights and digital X-rays — is another costly expenditure for dentists. Dental equipment is becoming more advanced, faster and more efficient. Acquiring new equipment or technology can help your practice expand the treatments you offer and increase patient volume. We can help evaluate these investments, including which tax breaks may be available and whether it’s smarter to buy or lease equipment, in light of today’s rapidly advancing technology. If your practice includes more than one dentist, our team can also help allocate these and other overhead costs among your practice’s owners.

Analyzing financial performance on a regular basis can help you maximize profits and identify practice inefficiencies. Interim reporting can also help you identify the need for a line of credit to temporarily cover operating expenses while you’re waiting to receive payments from patients and third-party payors.

Budgets and forecasting

Historical financial results may be used to project how your practice will perform in the future. We can prepare budgets and forecasts to help determine whether you have the office space, equipment, and staffing to meet future demand, as well as identify competitive threats and growth opportunities in your local market. These reports can also be useful when applying for bank loans or merging with another practice.

Throughout the year, we can compare your actual results to your budget. This analysis can ensure your monthly billings and expenditures stay on track. Major deviations may require revisions to your original budget or corrective actions. It’s always better to find out this information early, rather than to wait until year end!

Financial benchmarking

The purpose of accounting for dentists should extend beyond compliance with lending and tax requirements. Most dental practices want to know how they measure up against competitors.

We can provide industry benchmarking data, based on your location, size, and specialties, such as those provided by the ADA, the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), and local or dental specialty trade associations. These benchmarks can be compared to your financial results to determine operational strengths and areas for improvement. They can also help evaluate your cost structure and the competitiveness of your compensation packages.

Accounting software selection

Effective bookkeeping and accounting for dentists requires more than Excel spreadsheets.

Your practice needs specialized accounting software to track such items as:

  • Standard billing rates, insurance codes, and capitation plans for patient services;
  • Revenue and overhead share by owner (for practices with more than one dentist);
  • Cash on hand,
  • Cash deposits and EFT deposits from third-party payors;
  • Accounts receivables and write-offs;
  • Patient contracts (where applicable);
  • Accounts payable;
  • Staff wages and payroll taxes;
  • Supplies and materials;
  • Lab fees;
  • Rent, marketing, and other overhead expenses;
  • Equipment, leasehold improvements, and depreciation expense;
  • Commercial loans and interest expense;
  • Payments to and from shareholders; and
  • Tax-related information.

Dental practice accounting systems also must be secure to protect sensitive patient personal and billing information. Hacked or stolen patient records can lead to financial losses and harm to your practice’s reputation.

There are several bookkeeping and accounting solutions for dental practices that vary in capabilities and cost. We can help you select a program that’s appropriate based on your size and specialty.

If you already have accounting software in place, it may be time to review it. For example, software that you selected when your practice opened may no longer be appropriate or a new product may have become available that’s a better fit for your current needs. We can help you assess your current software and evaluate alternatives to ensure you’re utilizing accounting software to its full potential.

We encourage you to contact us with any questions.

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