As we all know, charitable giving is important…you should give back in any way you can, and that may include pro bono dental work.
Providing Pro Bono Dental Assistance
Recently, a friend told me about a member of his church who needed some dental work. He just couldn’t turn his back on this little girl, so he did the work free of charge. She sent him a card that would melt your heart. Her gratitude made him feel so good that he wanted to help more and more people.
But there’s a fine line between helping someone and extending ourselves too much. Another friend of mine has many patients from the same, large family. One day, his office manager researched how much dental work he was giving away and the number shocked him. The front desk assumed that anyone with this particular family name should receive free or discounted dental work…which was not the case. This dentist didn’t have proper guidelines for pro bono work at his practice, so he let profits literally walk right out the door.
Protecting Your Dental Practice
How can you avoid this problem in your dental practice? Or how do you turn your practice around if you’re already giving away the farm? Develop guidelines for when you’ll offer free or discounted work. When you do, consider the following:
- Only you (the dentist) should approve free or discounted work. Your staff should not make decisions or assumptions about who will pay what. The charges should be put into the billing system like normal, with your approval required to write off the balance. This helps for tracking and makes it easier to see how much work is being given away or discounted.
- Finally, tell your patient that he or she is receiving a discount, but ask them to be tight-lipped about it (with a wink). This information doesn’t need shared with everyone…even family.
Helping your patients when in need is a great way to give back, but don’t sacrifice your practice to do it. Each year, it gets more and more expensive to run a practice, so be careful with who you are helping and make sure you communicate your pro bono guidelines with your staff.
Contact Our Dental Practice Professionals
Need help evaluating or developing your guidelines? Contact Rea & Associates. Our team of bright Dental CPAs can work with on how you can give back by doing pro bono work without financially hurting your dental practice.