Regulations For Medical Marketing (Australia)
I know there's a lot of concerns about advertising and marketing. Let's try to put them into perspective. What is important here is to look at online marketing as an extension of yourself. You don't break rules or violate patient privacy in real life. Why would you do it online? Just do what comes naturally--help, serve, explain. If your digital marketing efforts provide information about changes in the practice, such as new doctors or services, disseminating important details about the community health risks, these are legitimate reasons for doctors to advertise. As a rule of thumb, you should avoid claims or comparisons with other doctors to avoid any potential problems. The medical board of Australia provides a comprehensive guide to what is acceptable and legal in marketing and advertising by medical practitioners. (http://www.medicalboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines-Policies.aspx) The relevant section of the national law states that health services must not be advertised in a way that: · Is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to be misleading or deceptive · Offers a gift, discount, or other inducements to attract a person to use the service or the business unless the advertisement also sets out the terms and conditions of the offer · Uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business · Creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment · Directly or indirectly encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services. The possible consequences of breaching advertising provisions include a finding of unprofessional conduct, which could lead to the cancellation of the doctor’s registration. What should you do? Our advice is generally to be pre-emptive. Doctors should be aware of the medical board guidelines, what can and can’t be said is very clearly stated on the ACCC and Medical Board guidelines. Always sell your professional services on their merits, be honest about what you say and do commercially, look at the overall impression of your advertisement. Remember, that the end user of your marketing is the viewpoint of a layperson with little or no knowledge of the services you are providing. If in doubt, you can always speak to your specific profession’s medical board and the Medical Board of Australia to clarify your concerns. If you do have a medical lawyer, give them a call to ensure you aren’t in breach of any laws. I hope that helps.