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9.19.08 Issue #341 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Consulting Myth Debunked
Organ Donor Crisis Part #3
The Welcome Letter

You’re All Alike!
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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You’re just like all the other dentists in town, so why should I go to you? Don’t you just hate being dropped onto the same heap as everyone else? In reality, there are a multitude of qualities that set your practice apart from others. In fact, you would likely argue that not only is it different, it’s also considerably better than many of them.

If prospective patients only knew how to really judge the quality of a dental practice or the superiority of your care, they’d likely be surprised. But it’s easier for them to hold on to the myth that you’re just like all the others, particularly if seeing you might require that they consider changing or improving something or view their oral health care differently than they usually do.

We feel your pain, Doctor, because we’ve heard a similar line from some very intelligent dentists: “You’re just like all those other cookie-cutter consultants. Why should I choose you?” Certainly this is one of the most common practice management consulting myths—all consultants are alike.

Like dentists, there are excellent consultants, good consultants and, unfortunately, bad consultants. Rather than lumping all practice management consultants together, I suggest you conduct a simple evaluation. Consider the following questions:

First, is the practice management consulting firm you are considering endorsed by a credible outside organization, such as your state dental society? For example, McKenzie Management is the only national practice management company endorsed by the California Dental Association.

Does the company or consultant you are considering come to you or must you and your team go to them? Certainly, it’s valuable for your team to go off-site for a team retreat and continuing education, but there is no substitute for what happens on-site, day after day in your practice. If you are trying to make major changes to critical systems, a consultant cannot make effective recommendations until he/she stands in your office, witnesses the challenges you face, understands your goals and vision, studies your practice data on-site, evaluates the demographics and psychographics of your community and stands side by side with the team that makes or breaks your success.

Does the company have a track record of success? You want numbers, you want data and you want references. The credible companies and consultants will not hesitate to share this information with you. McKenzie Management’s typical client will average an increase in practice profitability by 25% in the first 60-90 days alone.

Can this company tailor its recommendations to address the specific needs and uniqueness of your practice? Perhaps yours is a specialty practice, or maybe you have certain economic challenges in your community. Possibly yours is an HMO office, or maybe your practice is in a rural setting. Certainly there are management systems that every practice must implement, such as scheduling, collections, production, etc., but no two practices are exactly alike. You want a consulting company that has the experience and breadth of knowledge to address the uniqueness of your practice.

What type of follow-up will this company or consultant provide? Is this a once-and-done operation? They spend a day or a few hours with you, hand you a manual to follow and send you off to implement the recommendations on your own? In most cases, that’s a strategy for failure. A doctor cannot make major changes in her/his practice singlehandedly. You simply do not have the time, the expertise or, for that matter, the energy to overcome the obstacles that will inevitably come up.

McKenzie consultants are on-site for as many days as the dentist would like. In some cases it is as few as two, often it is four, and many times doctors request that the consultant be on site every other week. But regardless of the number of on-site days, we are your partners for a full 12 months. Your personal consultant is a phone call or email away for 365 days, 24/7. Moreover, each dentist has access to personal leadership coaching as well as other services, including mystery patient phone calls and mystery patient visits.

It is the individual attention and specific assistance we provide that ensures that McKenzie Management is definitely not like “all the other cookie cutter consulting firms.” Find out for yourself. Give me a call today.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.
Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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Risa Pollack-Simon
CMC
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The Organ Shortage Crises: Part III
A Humanitarian Dilemma

In Part I and Part II of this series we discussed the organ shortage, living organ donation and kidney transplantation. To conclude this three-part series, we will explore a unique donor exchange process called paired donation, which offers incompatible donors an alternative way to donate to their loved ones.

Paired Donation

One of the most common challenges for living donors is that they find they are not a compatible match for their intended recipients’ blood type. Incompatibility discoveries can be heartbreaking for a donor who desperately wants to give. It can also be extremely disappointing for the recipient in need, who was deeply moved by the donor’s bequest.

Yet now, through computer-assisted technology, a “search and match” process called paired donationcan provide an incompatible donor the opportunity to give indirectly, through an exchange process. The paired donation database cross-matches incompatible donor/recipients with other incompatible donor/recipients, with the goal of finding more suitable “fits” for all registered participants. 1, 2

This brilliant pay-it-forward process allows a willing but incompatible donor to give a kidney to a stranger, so that another willing but incompatible donor (someone he/she has never met) can offer (in exchange) a more suitably matched kidney for the intended recipient. In the end, each donor has an opportunity to impact the lives of at least two people: the unknown recipient and the intended recipient. Ultimately, a paired exchange can impact several lives, particularly when an altruistic donor (a person who doesn’t require an exchange, but is still willing to give a kidney to anyone in need) is added to a grouping. This creates a Never-Ending Altruistic Donor (NEAD) chain. 3

For some time, though, a good number of hospitals would not perform transplants through paired donation for fear of violating the valuable consideration clause in the National Organ Transplant Act, until dentist-congressman Charlie Norwood said that this fear was “hogwash” and that it made “common sense” to save lives through this opportunity. 4

Norwood stayed the course on this belief even while battling a severe case of lung cancer that subsequently took his life on February 13, 2007 after spreading to his liver. Auspiciously, Norwood wrote his last dying wish in a letter to Congress, asking it to make the paired donation bill he introduced with Congressman Jay Inslee a law. Congressman Inslee was also a strong champion of kidney care issues; his mother Adele, who battled complications from kidney disease, died only two weeks after Norwood. 4

On February 14, 2007 (the day after Norwood died), Congress quickly responded to Norwood’s wish by passing the bill unanimously. This led the U.S. House of Representatives to pass its own paired kidney donation bill, known as HR 710, which also passed unanimously by a vote of 422-0.4 President Bush then signed that bill into law on December 21, 2007.

Can I Be Compensated for My Gift?

The National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA), enacted back in 1984, makes it unlawful to knowingly acquire, receive or otherwise transfer any human organ for valuable consideration. The strongest argument in favor of permitting the sale of human organs is that it would generate an increased supply of a scarce and lifesaving resource.

Some proponents argue that, like bomb disposal experts and fire fighters who are paid for their life-threatening work, people who choose to risk their lives by contributing organs for the well-being of others should also be compensated.6 Furthermore, because hospitals, doctors, laboratories and pharmaceutical companies are charging top dollar for transplantation-related products and services, the person donating the organ that enables the surgery in the first place should theoretically be at the top of the ethical financial consideration chain. As it stands currently, reasonable payments for non-reimbursed expenses (i.e.; travel, housing and lost wages) are the only considerations allowed.

Just Say Yes

Saying yes to donation on your driver’s license is a terrific start. However, discussing your wishes with family members and formally registering your wishes on a donor registry (www.donatelife.net)7 is the best way to secure that your wishes will be carried out when you are deceased.

For people who find the notion of being a “Good Samaritan Donor” more appealing now (while they are still living), paired donation networks eagerly stand by to help potential donors better understand the process before they decide to move forward. 1,2,3 And, although it may be difficult to truly comprehend how someone could willingly donate to a person he/she barely knows (or perhaps has never met), no one argues that this honorable calling is, by far, one of the most selfless acts of human kindness a living legacy has to offer.

References:

1. Alliance for Paired Donation (APD). www.paireddonation.org/donor-info.htm
2. National Kidney Registry. www.nationalkidenyregistry.org
3. www.thenead.com
4. Schall, John A. Congress Passes Legislation on Paired Kidney Donations. American Association of Kidney Patients. www.aakp.org
5. Kidney Exchange: A Life-Saving Application of Matching Theory. National Science Foundation. Discovery. http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=104404
6. Shapiro, Robyn. S. Legal Issue in Payment of Living Donors for Solid Organs. American Bar Association. Spring 2003.
7. www.donatelife.net
Risa Simon is a certified management consultant, professional speaker and published author who inherited a rare cystic kidney condition that has positioned her among the many in need of a kidney transplant. After observing family members and friends with PKD struggle with dialysis and unrealistic waitlists (and started to experience her own challenges in trying to find a compatible donor), she decided to join a movement to increase awareness in the humanitarian call for “living” and “paired” donation. For more information contact risasimon@cox.net.

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Belle DuCharme CDPMA
Instructor/Consultant
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Writing An Effective Welcome Letter

Because they are considered optional, letters of welcome are often read with surprise, pleasure and gratitude. The welcome letter is a powerful marketing tool for the dentist and a warm, hospitable approach to cementing interpersonal relationships between the dentist and potential patients. The welcome letter and other successful internal/external marketing ideas are part of the McKenzie Management Advanced Business Training.

The welcome letter usually accompanies the new patient packet, which is sent out to new patients who have scheduled an appointment. It can also be posted on the website for new patients who are registering online or sent out with a direct mail marketing piece.

Starting up a new dental practice or coming in to an existing office as a new associate has opportunities that nonetheless present challenges. Start-up dentists want to welcome new patients to their practice and new associates want to introduce themselves to the existing patient base and to new patients. Many dentists—whether established, new associate or starting from scratch—opt for an internal marketing plan that includes a welcome letter because it is an important piece of communication to facilitate this process. Careful attention to its development is important.

The welcome letter is best printed on the office letterhead stationery. The paper should be of high quality in a pleasing soft color that complements the office decor. The letter should ring with warmth and sincerity and express the doctor’s pleasure at meeting with and providing services to the recipient.

Often, welcome letters are printed within the practice brochure and sent in lieu of an actual welcome letter. Although this is convenient, it changes the emotional value. A brochure is not a letter and is considered more of an informational piece.

Before you write the letter, decide what your objective is and to whom the letter is directed. Write letters of welcome to:

  • new patients that have scheduled appointments
  • potential patients that are receiving a direct mail piece
  • potential patients in businesses in the area, whether established or new
  • potential patients as new or existing members of club/organization/temple/church

The objective is to welcome and invite the potential patient to your dental practice for products and services, and also to establish name recognition and product association. Offer a free service or product, such as an electric toothbrush or whitening kit, to introduce the potential patient to your goods and services and to encourage a visit to your practice. Enclose a coupon for a one-time discount or a “Get to Know Us” special that includes a complete oral exam, necessary x-rays and a basic professional cleaning.

Some welcome phrases in the letter could be:

  • “eager to serve you and your family”
  • “extend a welcome to you and your family”
  • “look forward to meeting you and your family”
  • “warm reception waiting at Dr. John Smith’s dental office”
  • “pleasure to welcome you to our family dental practice”

Some welcome sentences in the letter could be:

  • “Let us know how we can help you feel quickly at home in our office.”
  • “We look forward to providing you quality dental care in a warm and friendly environment.”
  • “Our door is always open to you for your dental needs.”
  • “We believe that dental care will have a new and pleasant meaning for you after visiting our practice.

Sample Welcome Letter

Dear Patient,

It is with the greatest pleasure that we welcome you to our dental practice here in Oaks Grove. My name is Dr. Corwin Toothman and I have been in family practice in Oaks Grove for twenty years. My family and I live in nearby Parker and enjoy the outdoor life and the great neighbors. My dental team and I are very proud of the full line of dental services and products that we offer, including the dental laser and digital x-ray technology. Let us know how we can help you quickly feel at home in our office.

For your convenience, we have enclosed a health questionnaire and other information, including a map to our office. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 888.333.1111.

Please bring the enclosed forms (filled out) with you to your scheduled appointment on Friday, June 30, 2008 at 3:00 PM.
 
We look forward to meeting you and serving your dental needs now and in the future.
 
Sincerely,
Dr. Corwin Toothman

Set the stage for a positive experience in your practice by including a welcome letter in your new patient packet.

For more information about McKenzie Management’s Advanced Training courses, email training@mckenziemgmt.com, call 1-877-777-6151 or visit our website at www.mckenziemgmt.com.

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