Financial solicitation by my doctor

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sawhorse
Posts: 3482
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:05 pm

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by sawhorse » Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:03 am

increment wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:48 pm
michaelingp wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:42 pm
The person who deposits the checks doesn't know my financial situation, and I really don't think they are petty enough to really even care.
In January the New York Times wrote, "Many hospitals conduct nightly wealth screenings — using software that culls public data such as property records, contributions to political campaigns and other charities — to gauge which patients are most likely to be the source of large donations."
And the next paragraph:

"Those who seem promising targets for fund-raising may receive a visit from a hospital executive in their rooms, as well as extra amenities like a bathrobe or a nicer waiting area for their families."

I find this practice to be very disturbing:

"In an unprecedented survey of more than 400 oncologists at 40 leading cancer centers, nearly half said they had been taught to identify wealthy patients who might be prospective donors. A third had been asked to directly solicit donations — and half of them refused. Three percent had been promised payments if a patient donated."

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/29/heal ... s-say.html

fourwheelcycle
Posts: 763
Joined: Sun May 25, 2014 5:55 pm

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by fourwheelcycle » Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:36 am

I just happened to see this thread. I am sorry I am posting a bit late. I have experience with this issue both as a patient and as an employee at a research medical center.

First, about the letter that provides a lot of info about your physician and her research but never comes right out and asks for a donation.

When I was a child I had polio (Can you guess my age? Since no one gets polio anymore.) Fortunately, I had no lasting effects. However, for ten or more years afterward, my father received an annual letter from the large medical center that cared for me saying they were happy they were able to help me when I was ill, describing the many specialized services and research activities at the center, and asking if there was any further help they could provide to my father and his family. That's it - no request for a donation. Nonetheless, my father recognized it as a request for a donation and either donated or did not donate, as he wished.

Second, about the letter coming from your physician, not from the medical center.

Physicians at research medical centers may be employed by the hospital, by a partnered single-specialty or multi-specialty group practice, by the medical school, or by independent private practices.

At the medical center where I used to work all physicians are employed on a salary basis either by the medical school or by a not-for-profit partnered multi-specialty group practice. Generally, fund raising occurs through formal efforts initiated by our development office. Occasionally, a grateful patient, on their own initiative, asks if they can give money directly to the cardiologists, or the cancer surgeons, or the cancer center, etc., that cared for them. Under our once informal, but now formal, rules the involved physician or specialty center is supposed to put the patient in touch with our development office, which will then work with the patient to set up their gift so that it will benefit the area of the medical center the patient or their family wishes to assist.

However, there were also some instances when individual physicians "primed the pump" by suggesting to a well-off patient that they could make a donation directly to the physician's specialty department or center if they appreciated the care they had received (All of our physicians are on salary only, and they cannot receive funds personally from grateful patients or families).

As a result of instances in which physicians made personal requests to patients or their families, our medical center established a formal rule that no physician may approach a patient directly, in person or by mail, to solicit donations for their specialty department or center. All personal and mailed solicitations must be authorized by our development office. Most are clearly sent by the development office, although we allow a very few centers, such as our cancer center and our children's hospital, to send requests directly to the public, including past and present patients and their families. However, even these direct mailings are planned with and authorized by our development office. No patient should ever receive a mailing directly from one of our physicians.

Of course, the above description is just how our medical center has addressed this issue. Some medical centers may allow their own employed physicians, or private practice physicians who have medical staff privileges at the medical center, to send out letters of the type you received.

In any event, it is not at all unusual for a letter you recognize as a request for a donation to not come right out and ask for one.
Last edited by fourwheelcycle on Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

SoAnyway
Posts: 420
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2018 11:49 pm

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by SoAnyway » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:28 am

rjbraun wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 1:24 pm
SoAnyway wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 1:11 am
rjbraun wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:49 pm
Fallible wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:56 pm
rjbraun wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:57 pm

Well, in my case the doctor signed the letter so I'm assuming she knew on some level.

So, the letter is personalized to me and, on closer inspection, my doctor's signature actually looks original. The ink is black, so it's a little hard to tell if it's a copy but I think it's actually a real signature done with a ballpoint pen. Ugh, that's what I mean. Too personal. I recognize that this letter presumably went out to many patients, and maybe technology is such that it's easy to replicate an ink signature, but it's all just too personalized for my taste, given the context.

Still, I'm conflicted. I like the doctor, think she has done a good job treating me, and would be reluctant to change at this point, though, as mentioned, I'm not thrilled with the solicitation. In that regard, I would feel better if the Development Office basically said or implied that the whole thing is their doing.
How exactly is she soliciting for your money? Is she asking directly for money? I wasn't clear about that from your posts.
Yes, direct request for money. Sorry, I can see why it might have been unclear.

From the cover letter:

After the introductory paragraph outlining the need for research and how she and others are trying to change things, the last paragraph says "Financial support is crucial to our efforts and I would be delighted if you would consider making a contribution to this research. I've enclosed an attachment that describes my research activities. It is my sincere hope that the information gained from our research will improve and personalize the care of patients like you. Sincerely, [my doctor's signature]"

Also, in the double-side insert:

There's a framed box that takes up slightly less than one-quarter of the page, entitled "The Future and How You Can Help". "Your support ensures our continued success. If you would like to make a gift in honor of Dr. X's clinical or research activities, or if you would like further information, please contact so-and-so, Director of Development.

Checks, payable to "blah blah University" may be sent to: so-and-so. Please indicate in the memo section: Dr. X #1234"
OP, not to ask a stupid question but have you actually had a 1-on-1 with your doctor, shown her the documents you received, and expressed your concerns? All of us strangers on the internet can only speculate. Maybe she knew about it, maybe she didn't. As others have indicated, maybe she's under pressures from her employer that you know nothing about. Who knows. SoAnyway....

If you're concerned enough to post here, you're concerned enough to take it to the person and organization who's in a position to do something about your (legitimate, in my view) concerns. Good luck.
SoAnyway, no, to date I have not spoken with my doctor about the letter. It arrived after my last appointment. As I only see her annually, I guess I could save the question for my next appointment in the fall. While I suppose I had the opportunity after receiving the first letter several years ago, I don't recall that the letter and my annual visit occurred close in time. Also, with the first go around with the letter it gave me pause, and then I just let it go.

Fwiw, in that case, and this one, my reaction was to not only feel the urging by the institution to contribute but also, perhaps curiously, some "pity" for the doctor. While her background is plenty impressive, she's very good in person and she's affiliated with a premier institution, I kind of thought it was somewhat sad that she was put in the position of having to reach out to me, a patient, for funding. It's only with this second letter and my OP and the helpful feedback from a number of the replies that I can begin to put things in context and see that her letter is likely part of a larger institutional fundraising effort, one that she may or may not be actively eager to participate in.

As to her being unaware of the letter, if that were truly the case, that would be revealing as someone else would have attached her signature to a letter without her permission. Of course, it's possible, but at least to me that would be unacceptable and on its own would make me wary of dealing with the institution (assuming it was an authorized action and not just one "bad actor" who fell through (unintended) cracks in the system).

SoAnyway, I did contact the development office yesterday. The contact person listed on the letter was out and apparently is traveling for several days. Perhaps I will try to reach out again in the next week or two and try to understand better the situation. I will be sure to post in the event I learn anything helpful or worthwhile.

If I were to try to speak directly with the doctor at my next appointment, it might turn out fine or it could be awkward, imo, and I just don't see the "risk:reward" payoff as worth it. Namely, maybe she explains the situation and it's no big deal, or maybe she makes a big push for me to give, I say I would like to think about it, and then I have my exam. I think I might feel uncomfortable, even if I shouldn't, and I would just prefer to avoid that. For now, a number of posters have helped me to put the situation in a plausible context, which, for now, makes me comfortable to continue having her treat me.
OP, fwiw, you're doing all the right things. I'm glad you recognize that there are multiple plausible contexts, and that context is EVERYTHING in the healthcare world. After all, we are ALL patients - or will be someday. People we love are patients. And everyone who works in the healthcare space in any capacity (self-included) is both part of the system and a victim of it. I'm glad you're putting the priority on your comfort level with your physician in treating whatever health matters you may encounter, and navigating the various politics involved with sensitivity. You've done a great service for all of the lurkers/"guests" on this forum. SoAnyway....

Back to my original question, I trust your judgment in your situation. It's a delicate matter to confront a trusted healthcare provider, esp. if you're now (appropriately) considering the position that individual is in. You know the intimate dynamics best. Bottom line: I commend you on your compassion, and I trust you're making the right call in this specific situation.
Nothing in this post constitutes legal or medical advice. | Consult your attorney or physician to verify if/how anything stated might or might not be applicable to your specific situation.

Topic Author
rjbraun
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Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by rjbraun » Tue Apr 09, 2019 4:51 pm

Update here from OP: I got another solicitation by mail this week. Same institution, but this time from a dean / professor of the medical center. One-pager (with donation card and envelope), closing with "Just as you rely on us, we rely on your generosity to remain a global leader in scientific research, education, and patient care."

As I didn't get through to the development office in my prior attempt, I figured I would try again today. The development director was very nice on the phone and seemed interested to hear my comments and questions. Largely thanks to the helpful feedback I got here to my OP, she didn't really say anything that I was not already aware of. Presumably, because of her position she was more likely to see the glass half-full than half-empty. That is, the potential downside to the broader fundraising efforts (ethical considerations, patients questioning direct solicitations from their doctor, and so on) are seemingly eclipsed by the prospect of gifts that might not have otherwise materialized. I think she did suggest that it might not be the immediate donations from the solicitations but more word-of-mouth and / or introductions to other donors interested in a particular medical area that might result. So, I guess an effort to increase the general awareness of medical or scientific philanthropy, as a prior poster wrote.

It was kind of hard for me to pin down just how targeted the fundraising is. Does a doctor at times provide input as to a patient's perceived ability to contribute? She seemed to imply that some doctors may sense a patient's interest in a particular research area, say, and thereby speculate about their desire to learn about and potentially fund work. That said, she also seemed to indicate that the ability to target isn't so fine tuned now, which I took to mean that they cast a fairly large net, out of necessity. More broadly, she suggested that fundraising by medical institutions is really no different than that done by other organizations in the arts or elsewhere.

Topic Author
rjbraun
Posts: 1486
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by rjbraun » Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:08 pm

fourwheelcycle wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:36 am
I just happened to see this thread. I am sorry I am posting a bit late. I have experience with this issue both as a patient and as an employee at a research medical center.

First, about the letter that provides a lot of info about your physician and her research but never comes right out and asks for a donation.
Actually, the letter from my doctor does explicitly request money: "Financial support is crucial to our efforts and I would be delighted if you would consider making a contribution to this research."
fourwheelcycle wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:36 am
When I was a child I had polio (Can you guess my age? Since no one gets polio anymore.) Fortunately, I had no lasting effects. However, for ten or more years afterward, my father received an annual letter from the large medical center that cared for me saying they were happy they were able to help me when I was ill, describing the many specialized services and research activities at the center, and asking if there was any further help they could provide to my father and his family. That's it - no request for a donation. Nonetheless, my father recognized it as a request for a donation and either donated or did not donate, as he wished.

Second, about the letter coming from your physician, not from the medical center.

Physicians at research medical centers may be employed by the hospital, by a partnered single-specialty or multi-specialty group practice, by the medical school, or by independent private practices.

At the medical center where I used to work all physicians are employed on a salary basis either by the medical school or by a not-for-profit partnered multi-specialty group practice. Generally, fund raising occurs through formal efforts initiated by our development office. Occasionally, a grateful patient, on their own initiative, asks if they can give money directly to the cardiologists, or the cancer surgeons, or the cancer center, etc., that cared for them. Under our once informal, but now formal, rules the involved physician or specialty center is supposed to put the patient in touch with our development office, which will then work with the patient to set up their gift so that it will benefit the area of the medical center the patient or their family wishes to assist.

However, there were also some instances when individual physicians "primed the pump" by suggesting to a well-off patient that they could make a donation directly to the physician's specialty department or center if they appreciated the care they had received (All of our physicians are on salary only, and they cannot receive funds personally from grateful patients or families).

As a result of instances in which physicians made personal requests to patients or their families, our medical center established a formal rule that no physician may approach a patient directly, in person or by mail, to solicit donations for their specialty department or center. All personal and mailed solicitations must be authorized by our development office. Most are clearly sent by the development office, although we allow a very few centers, such as our cancer center and our children's hospital, to send requests directly to the public, including past and present patients and their families. However, even these direct mailings are planned with and authorized by our development office. No patient should ever receive a mailing directly from one of our physicians.

Of course, the above description is just how our medical center has addressed this issue. Some medical centers may allow their own employed physicians, or private practice physicians who have medical staff privileges at the medical center, to send out letters of the type you received.

In any event, it is not at all unusual for a letter you recognize as a request for a donation to not come right out and ask for one.
Fwiw, at this point, I have now received explicit financial solicitations from both my doctor directly as well as from the medical center itself. Based on my conversation with the development officer today, she seemed to indicate that some departments may send out their own direct solicitations and not in coordination with the development office. In fact, she asked me which department my doctor was in. When I told her, it didn't seem to register; she didn't say, "oh, yes, we work closely with the xx department on fundraising"). That said, it's curious as the development officer's name was specified in my doctor's letter.

fourwheelcycle: Thanks for your input. My comments aren't meant in anyway to challenge or dispute what you wrote.

GreenGrowTheDollars
Posts: 433
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:09 pm

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by GreenGrowTheDollars » Tue Apr 09, 2019 6:15 pm

increment wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:48 pm
michaelingp wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:42 pm
The person who deposits the checks doesn't know my financial situation, and I really don't think they are petty enough to really even care.
In January the New York Times wrote, "Many hospitals conduct nightly wealth screenings — using software that culls public data such as property records, contributions to political campaigns and other charities — to gauge which patients are most likely to be the source of large donations."
MANY large charities/organizations do this. We did it for a capital campaign for a school with letters signed by the principal as well as the capital campaign chair. I took many potential donors out for coffee, lunch, or toured them around the building. My alma mater (a big public university) does this and development officers who are visiting our area send notes and offer to stop by. Software like Blackbaud makes much of this a lot easier. From their website: "Approach individuals strategically by understanding the relationships and interactions they've had with other supporters and organizations."

andypanda
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Joined: Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:11 pm
Location: Richmond, Virginia

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by andypanda » Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:32 pm

"Those who seem promising targets for fund-raising may receive a visit from a hospital executive in their rooms, as well as extra amenities like a bathrobe or a nicer waiting area for their families."

"I find this practice to be very disturbing"

You and me too. They can't even wait until you get well and go home. Maybe they are afraid you will die before you make a contribution.

I have this image of doctors signing letters for the development/fundraising/begging office. They're dressed like the neighborhood pimps.
What's next? A jar at the nurses' station with a little handwritten sign on it that says TIPS? :moneybag

toofache32
Posts: 1924
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 6:30 pm

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by toofache32 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:55 pm

Go somewhere else. Vote with your feet.

staythecourse
Posts: 6993
Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:40 am

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by staythecourse » Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:00 pm

Sorry, didn't read the other replies, but where in the letter did it ask for financial backing? I'm a doc and how I read it is please join one of our research projects as a research subject.

Did I miss the financial solicitation part of your opening poster on this thread?

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

Topic Author
rjbraun
Posts: 1486
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by rjbraun » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:29 pm

staythecourse wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:00 pm
Sorry, didn't read the other replies, but where in the letter did it ask for financial backing? I'm a doc and how I read it is please join one of our research projects as a research subject.

Did I miss the financial solicitation part of your opening poster on this thread?

Good luck.
Sorry, my OP probably could have been clearer, and I have now edited it to specify that the doctor explicitly requested money (repeated again here): The cover letter closes with a request for money, "Financial support is crucial to our efforts and I would be delighted if you would consider making a contribution to this research." Also, the color page insert has a highlighted section entitled "The Future and How You Can Help" ... "Your support ensures our continued success. If you would like to make a gift in honor of Dr. [blank]'s clinical or research activities, ..." and then in the next paragraph "Checks, payable to [blah blah] University may be sent to: [so-and-so] in the Office of Development."

As for a more recent solicitation from the university dean (seemingly not directly tied to my doctor's prior communication), he closes with the following: "Just as you rely on us, we rely on your generosity to remain a global leader in scientific research, education, and patient care. Partner with us and make a gift to help save lives and improve healthcare for patients here and around the world." [bold font was in the original letter, not added by me]. A donation card with suggested dollar amounts and several options for how the donor would like the funds directed, along with details for "Three Easy Ways to Give" (online, phone, post - check or credit card).

toofache32
Posts: 1924
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 6:30 pm

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by toofache32 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:57 pm

Did we ever figure out if the doctor was aware this was being sent out in his/her name? What makes you think the doctor is actually involved in this?

protagonist
Posts: 6092
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:47 pm

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by protagonist » Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:03 pm

JoeRetire wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:25 pm
rjbraun wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:20 pm
Have others ever received anything like this from their doctors? Is this common? I don't believe I've ever received anything like this before.
I've never heard of such a thing.

If it happened to me, I'd find a new doctor. I want my physicians to focus on treating me, not hitting me up for funding.
No kidding!

I'm a retired physician and I find that really unethical- hitting a patient up for money. I never heard of it.
Maybe if you were good friends, but still I would consider it sort of weird.

I think toofache's suggestion is a good one....call and make sure it really came from your doctor. Perhaps he (and you) are being scammed, in which case your doctor will want to know about it.

arsenalfan
Posts: 782
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Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by arsenalfan » Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:08 pm

Medicine is a business.
Look at all the VC firms buying physician practices.
Look at all the big name academic centers leveraging their names by buying private practices.
Look at united healthcare stock.
Look at VHT.
Welcome to America!
Why do you think doctors are the best targets for financial advisors? Partly from the hubris of being specialists in one thing, but also because they ascribe to the Hippocratic oath which may predispose to a naïveté.
So no surprise your doctor is the lackey of the insurance company/medical center/ healthcare administration, and the poster child of the mailer solicitations . They are “customer facing” and may generate $$ atop their clinical revenue.
And no surprise Amazon is getting in on this. Lucrative business primed for “disruption”

Topic Author
rjbraun
Posts: 1486
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by rjbraun » Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:21 pm

toofache32 wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:57 pm
Did we ever figure out if the doctor was aware this was being sent out in his/her name? What makes you think the doctor is actually involved in this?
Well, the letter is on her letterhead and her signature is at the bottom of the letter. Granted, that doesn't mean she is aware that the university may be using her name and signature without her permission. Alternatively, maybe she signed something at some point that gave the university blanket permission to use her name and signature for fundraising.

In my conversation with the development officer today I did mention getting a letter from my doctor (without identifying her by name). I guess I didn't think to question her about whether the university will send letters signed by a doctor / faculty member without their explicit permission. At the same time, the development person also never indicated that is their practice. And I clearly went out of my way to say that I like my doctor fine and that in no way should my phone inquiry be viewed as an indication of dissatisfaction with her doctoring (apart from having been taken aback somewhat by the direct solicitation not once, but twice). So, my thinking is that the doctor was involved or at least aware of her name being attached to the letter. If she wasn't I would think the development officer would have said something to me, but perhaps not. No way to know.

So, I guess the only way to know for sure would be to ask my doctor herself. I still have another six months till my annual visit, but I doubt that I would feel inclined to ask her unless the subject somehow comes up on its own spontaneously.

Eta: On reflection, I'm pretty sure the development officer said that sometimes doctors will propose possible donor "targets" (not her word) based on perceived patient interests or other characteristics. I think this was offered in response to my question about whether patients can be targeted, and, if so, how. So, while that doesn't prove that the letter came from my doctor it does suggest to me that doctors can be sources of leads for the university's fundraising efforts.
Last edited by rjbraun on Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Topic Author
rjbraun
Posts: 1486
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by rjbraun » Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:31 pm

protagonist wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:03 pm
JoeRetire wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:25 pm
rjbraun wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:20 pm
Have others ever received anything like this from their doctors? Is this common? I don't believe I've ever received anything like this before.
I've never heard of such a thing.

If it happened to me, I'd find a new doctor. I want my physicians to focus on treating me, not hitting me up for funding.
No kidding!

I'm a retired physician and I find that really unethical- hitting a patient up for money. I never heard of it.
Maybe if you were good friends, but still I would consider it sort of weird.

I think toofache's suggestion is a good one....call and make sure it really came from your doctor. Perhaps he (and you) are being scammed, in which case your doctor will want to know about it.
If my doctor is being "scammed", it's by her own employer. :wink: Her letter included the name and contact information of a development officer. When I spoke with her today, she sounded legitimate to me, fwiw. :happy Also, her phone number, e-mail address, and mailing address all tie to the institution, so I think it's pretty safe to say that side of things are in order.

sawhorse
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Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by sawhorse » Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:15 am

rjbraun wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 4:51 pm
It was kind of hard for me to pin down just how targeted the fundraising is. Does a doctor at times provide input as to a patient's perceived ability to contribute? She seemed to imply that some doctors may sense a patient's interest in a particular research area, say, and thereby speculate about their desire to learn about and potentially fund work.
"In an unprecedented survey of more than 400 oncologists at 40 leading cancer centers, nearly half said they had been taught to identify wealthy patients who might be prospective donors. A third had been asked to directly solicit donations — and half of them refused. Three percent had been promised payments if a patient donated."

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/29/heal ... s-say.html

chessknt
Posts: 207
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Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by chessknt » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:04 am

I can confirm this is done at my university hospital as well. This is standard practice to ferret out donations for the university endowment.

It might seem in poor taste but the researchers don't generate any clinical revenue and increasingly sparse NIH funds leaves some of them without funding for a time. Supporting the research mission with donations is crucial in recruiting clinical experts (the best pancreatic cancer doctor isn't going to get recruited somewhere where there is no pancreatic cancer research happening) and spurring ongoing advances in care. For better or worse, part of this burden falls on to the philanthropist. It also enables these experts to be accessible locally to you instead of a mega system like the Cleveland clinic.

msk
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Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by msk » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:24 am

ram wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 2:12 pm
The only time I knew that one of my patients donated was when the amount was >100,000 and I was "advised" to be present at the ceremony where the donor family cut some ribbon.
LoL. Just donate a 7 figure sum and you will never have to wait more than a couple of days for an appointment :D I just hate the whole system of tax deductible charity giving. Basically the average tax payer ends up footing a significant portion of the charitable giving. But hey, that's what we have and so those soliciting for donations have to live with the ignominy of begging and the potential donors with the discomfort of being solicited from.

Just as an aside. A friend died recently from some form of cancer that is very much under active research (all cancers?). He was a billionaire. Soon after he died his physician won a Nobel Prize. Of course, now his kids are very proud of the fact that their Dad had donated a major sum to the chap's research group and the son flew out to congratulate the Prize Winner. You never know...

Rotarman
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Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by Rotarman » Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:44 am

rjbraun wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:20 pm
I have been treated by a specialist for several years now. The doctor works at a major research medical school / university, and I see her for an annual check-up.

I received a letter from her a few weeks ago. In the cover letter she briefly discusses her unit's work, "exciting research projects" taking place, and, in essence, how all of this can benefit me and other patients like me. She included one double-sided color page that included additional research highlights and similar. The insert also had a couple of sections dedicated to her current and past research projects (in collaboration with other MDs), along with some of her biographical information. Edited to add (to clarify that an explicit financial donation was requested by the doctor): The cover letter closes with a request for money, "Financial support is crucial to our efforts and I would be delighted if you would consider making a contribution to this research." Also, the color page insert has a highlighted section entitled "The Future and How You Can Help" ... "Your support ensures our continued success. If you would like to make a gift in honor of Dr. [blank]'s clinical or research activities, ..." and then in the next paragraph "Checks, payable to [blah blah] University' may be sent to:" so-and-so in the Office of Development."

I actually received similar correspondence from her a couple of years ago. I was a little surprised to receive the material at that time, but kind of forgot about it until I received something again now.

Personally, I find it kind of odd and am a bit put off, especially given that it seems to come directly from my doctor (yes, still on university letterhead but not the university's development office or another more abstract entity). While I like my doctor fine, I don't want to feel pressured to support her research. Even if I did, it's hard to think my modest contribution could really make a difference in the big scheme of things. At the same time, if I don't give I kind of wonder if I may feel awkward in the event I were to ever need to ask her a question, say, between my annual visits. Even worse, I suppose this sort of thing could lead to prioritization of patients (which I would hope doesn't happen).

Granted, I always marvel when I see on the insurance "Explanation of Benefits" how little she and my other doctors actually receive from the insurer for each visit, but the role of patients is not to provide financial support to their doctors' research. :confused

Have others ever received anything like this from their doctors? Is this common? I don't believe I've ever received anything like this before. If I did, it was at a very high level and did not highlight one specific individual (fwiw, she's mid-career, an associate professor, and presumably not world-renowned in the field, etc.)

Note: I guess maybe people receive requests for donations from hospitals they have been treated at. While I might not appreciate getting those solicitations, either, this one seems so personal as it comes directly from the person who treats me.
A department I'm familiar with had a mass exodus of physicians for this exact same thing. The donor outreach person used patients of the doctors as leads for potential donations and the docs did NOT like it. I'm not sure whether it went so far as to mention the specific specialist that patient visits (as yours does) but it might have. This department is still picking up the pieces from the havoc this wrought. You should mention it to your physician - it's possible they're as uncomfortable with it as you and at the very least they should know you find it unprofessional.

staythecourse
Posts: 6993
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Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by staythecourse » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:47 am

rjbraun wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:29 pm
staythecourse wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:00 pm
Sorry, didn't read the other replies, but where in the letter did it ask for financial backing? I'm a doc and how I read it is please join one of our research projects as a research subject.

Did I miss the financial solicitation part of your opening poster on this thread?

Good luck.
Sorry, my OP probably could have been clearer, and I have now edited it to specify that the doctor explicitly requested money (repeated again here): The cover letter closes with a request for money, "Financial support is crucial to our efforts and I would be delighted if you would consider making a contribution to this research." Also, the color page insert has a highlighted section entitled "The Future and How You Can Help" ... "Your support ensures our continued success. If you would like to make a gift in honor of Dr. [blank]'s clinical or research activities, ..." and then in the next paragraph "Checks, payable to [blah blah] University may be sent to: [so-and-so] in the Office of Development."

As for a more recent solicitation from the university dean (seemingly not directly tied to my doctor's prior communication), he closes with the following: "Just as you rely on us, we rely on your generosity to remain a global leader in scientific research, education, and patient care. Partner with us and make a gift to help save lives and improve healthcare for patients here and around the world." [bold font was in the original letter, not added by me]. A donation card with suggested dollar amounts and several options for how the donor would like the funds directed, along with details for "Three Easy Ways to Give" (online, phone, post - check or credit card).
I find that tasteless and rather unethical. Most folks don't know this but physicians are held to the highest ethics when it comes to solicitation for drumming up business. My guess, this is not coming from the Doctor themselves, but from the institution. I would call the hospital's guest services line and tell them that you don't feel comfortable and feel it is inappropriate to get solicitations from your doctor. The ONLY way anyone knows is folks let them know.

I once remember a patient slipping me a $100 bill into my from pocket after leaving the room. That was weird. I gave it back to him and told him the money I make off him is more then enough. :D . Another gave me a $300 gift card to an expensive steakhouse. When they refused to take it back I gave it to my nurses so they could get a nice dinner.

Good luck.
"The stock market [fluctuation], therefore, is noise. A giant distraction from the business of investing.” | -Jack Bogle

Topic Author
rjbraun
Posts: 1486
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by rjbraun » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:29 am

staythecourse wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:47 am
rjbraun wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:29 pm
staythecourse wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:00 pm
Sorry, didn't read the other replies, but where in the letter did it ask for financial backing? I'm a doc and how I read it is please join one of our research projects as a research subject.

Did I miss the financial solicitation part of your opening poster on this thread?

Good luck.
Sorry, my OP probably could have been clearer, and I have now edited it to specify that the doctor explicitly requested money (repeated again here): The cover letter closes with a request for money, "Financial support is crucial to our efforts and I would be delighted if you would consider making a contribution to this research." Also, the color page insert has a highlighted section entitled "The Future and How You Can Help" ... "Your support ensures our continued success. If you would like to make a gift in honor of Dr. [blank]'s clinical or research activities, ..." and then in the next paragraph "Checks, payable to [blah blah] University may be sent to: [so-and-so] in the Office of Development."

As for a more recent solicitation from the university dean (seemingly not directly tied to my doctor's prior communication), he closes with the following: "Just as you rely on us, we rely on your generosity to remain a global leader in scientific research, education, and patient care. Partner with us and make a gift to help save lives and improve healthcare for patients here and around the world." [bold font was in the original letter, not added by me]. A donation card with suggested dollar amounts and several options for how the donor would like the funds directed, along with details for "Three Easy Ways to Give" (online, phone, post - check or credit card).
I find that tasteless and rather unethical. Most folks don't know this but physicians are held to the highest ethics when it comes to solicitation for drumming up business. My guess, this is not coming from the Doctor themselves, but from the institution. I would call the hospital's guest services line and tell them that you don't feel comfortable and feel it is inappropriate to get solicitations from your doctor. The ONLY way anyone knows is folks let them know.

I once remember a patient slipping me a $100 bill into my from pocket after leaving the room. That was weird. I gave it back to him and told him the money I make off him is more then enough. :D . Another gave me a $300 gift card to an expensive steakhouse. When they refused to take it back I gave it to my nurses so they could get a nice dinner.

Good luck.
When I called the university's development office, I found the officer was receptive to my call and interested to hear my comments. That said, she basically indicated that this is the current state of fundraising. I suppose the implication was that if everyone else does it and they don't, it just means more gifts for them and less for her institution.

She did offer to remove me from future distributions. After consideration I decided I would prefer to leave things as is, simply so that I can continue to observe their conduct and fundraising efforts.

I'm not an MD but would find it odd to receive (or give) cash. Nice of you to share the gift card with your nurses! I think patients just like to express their gratitude to the docs they may feel particularly fond of. In the past I've brought baskets of (mostly) healthy snacks for my doctor to (presumably) share with the office, stuff like apples, sports bars, and nuts.

Topic Author
rjbraun
Posts: 1486
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: Financial solicitation by my doctor

Post by rjbraun » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:58 am

chessknt wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:04 am
I can confirm this is done at my university hospital as well. This is standard practice to ferret out donations for the university endowment.

It might seem in poor taste but the researchers don't generate any clinical revenue and increasingly sparse NIH funds leaves some of them without funding for a time. Supporting the research mission with donations is crucial in recruiting clinical experts (the best pancreatic cancer doctor isn't going to get recruited somewhere where there is no pancreatic cancer research happening) and spurring ongoing advances in care. For better or worse, part of this burden falls on to the philanthropist. It also enables these experts to be accessible locally to you instead of a mega system like the Cleveland clinic.
I can certainly appreciate the need to generate adequate research funding and the reduced availability of public funds.

I'm no expert in this area, but it seems that a medical center's funding from the private sector can also be problematic. At least, that seems to have been the case with Memorial Sloan Kettering, based on news reports.

https://www.propublica.org/series/sloan ... ers-crisis

However things shake out, it would seem beneficial to ensure that ethical standards are established and imposed with appropriate oversight.

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