Working with an experienced healthcare marketing agency is hugely beneficial because the guidelines for advertising regulated health services need to be taken into account every time you air your brand in the public domain. If you are advertising a health service, these guidelines apply to you. Today we are going to take a look at the dos and don’ts of the guidelines, and how you can ensure your healthcare business stays compliant.

Why Are The Guidelines In Place?

The Guidelines For Advertising Regulated Health Services have been drawn up by the National Boards that regulate Australia’s health practitioners.

Put in place to protect the interests of the public and the practitioners that serve it, these guidelines have very clear objectives, including:

  • To guide advertisers to be compliant within the confines of National Law
  • To demonstrate which advertising is not allowed
  • To define the use of facts within advertising contexts
  • To remind advertisers of regulated health services of their responsibilities
  • To document the consequences should an advertiser breach National Law.

Reading the guidelines is one thing – understanding and being able to implement them is an entirely different matter. When you work with Mediboost you work with a team of professionals whose job it is to ensure that your practice is compliant in all your advertising endeavours.

Against What Backdrop Or Context Have These Guidelines Been Drawn Up?

Regulators recognise that advertising is an important manner for the public to get information about health-related services that are on offer, and to make informed decisions about their health.

Regulators also recognise the opposite statement: that false information goes against the best interests of the public and may lead consumers to make uninformed decisions, should they receive incorrect or false information about a health service.

In order to remain compliant, it is expected that any advertiser of a healthcare service conforms with the National Law. Most specifically it is expected that advertisers are aux fait with advertising requirements specified under Section 133, title and practice provisions under Sections 113 to 120 and any other legislation under the Australian Consumer Law.

Who Do The Guidelines Impact?

These guidelines are to be complied with by any person or practice who / that is advertising a health service that is regulated. Some examples of who the guidelines apply to include registered and non-registered health practitioners, body corporates and individuals.

In the event that your healthcare service also provides product or therapeutic services to consumers, there are other forms of legislation that you need to ensure you are compliant with. Your practice would need to be compliant with the legislation governed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Therapeutic Goods Administration managed by the Department of Health.

In a situation where a consumer has filed a complaint with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, AHPRA may refer the matter to the regulator that is most appropriate in the context.

What Happens If You Transgress The National Law?

Any breaches or transgressions of the National Law are considered as criminal offences and may be referred to the courts. The maximum penalty is a fine of $5,000 for individuals and up to $10,000 for body corporates.  The AHPRA website advises consumers on the process to be followed in order to file a complaint against a healthcare professional.

In the event that you are a registered health practitioner and you are found to be guilty of a reported offence you may also be subject to a disciplinary procedure. Part 8 of the National Law discusses expectations of professional conduct and also binds healthcare professionals to the advertising guidelines of the National Law.

What Kinds Of Details Should Be Included In Healthcare Advertising?

The use of clear, factually correct information in advertising is one important aspect that makes it easier for patients to make informed choices about their health, their choice of healthcare provider, and the type of treatment they will afford.

Here Are Some Ideas Of Basic Components That Could Be Included

Your contact details

Of course, a potential patient needs to know how and when to contact you. Giving a choice of contact details along with a clear indication of when your practice is open makes this easier for patients. Who should a patient contact is case of an emergency?

Important practice features

What languages can your practice offer patients, and how accessible are your premises? Is it wheelchair accessible? Is there safe parking available?

What are your charges?

Healthcare services attract fees and influence a patient’s decision-making process so it is important that you advise patients how your charges work, how you bill and whether you offer instalment plans to patients.

How qualified and experienced are your practitioners?  

Your patients should have easy access to your training history, experience and qualifications to enable them to make an informed choice before hiring you as a provider.

You also should mention whether you have any specialised training, and what area of expertise it was awarded in, as well as any accreditations or affiliations. It is not sufficient to state that you are accredited, without providing the details of who has issued your accreditation.

Advertising invasive or surgical procedures

Any invasive or surgical healthcare services or products that are being advertised should state any warnings in a clear and prominent place. You should also make sure that you do comply with all National Boards for invasive procedures – because some National Boards publish very specific guidelines about invasive and surgical procedures.

Advertising Regulated Health Services With A Medical Marketing Agency

We understand business owners very well, and we also know how tempting it is to lay out all your achievements as reasons for patients to consider you for their healthcare service. But we also live and operate within a regulated framework and our expertise ensures that all of our healthcare clients publish advertising that is clear and compliant.

Over our years in business we have learnt to extract the most important, saleable points for each of our clients, familiarising ourselves with their brand differentiators and finding the target audience that can really benefit from that service.

And that leads us to another important point: it makes no sense to mislead the public. It makes more sense to find the patients who need your service and the way you perform it, rather than to misrepresent. We’re invested in finding our clients long term patients who have made informed decisions about their health and want to work with the provider that has the same beliefs as they do.

When you hand your healthcare advertising campaign over to us you can rest assured that local guidelines and legislation will be complied with, and that the patients who make contact are invested in their brand differentiators.

If you’d like to find out more about advertising regulated health services, it’s definitely time for us to chat. Please get in touch so we can discuss how we can help you transform your practice’s online presence, while ensuring complliance.