If you’re a regulated health practitioner, operate a regulated health practice or provide a regulated health service, you have a responsibility to understand and abide by The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. Breaches to the law can lead to prosecution and penalties.
We’re going to run you through the basics of how the National Law can affect your advertising, we encourage you to visit www.ahpra.gov.au. In particular, we recommend you thoroughly read the Advertising Resources available under the Publications and Resources tab.
How does the National Law apply to my advertising?
You may never intentionally provide false or misleading information to trick or confuse the public, but there are plenty of people out there who do. So, the National Law exists.
Under the National Law, your advertising includes, but is not limited to, your website, TV, radio, print and directory advertising. Basically, double and triple check wherever you promote your business, products or services.
What do I need to know about the National Law?
You need to make sure anything you write or any pictures you display could not be considered false or misleading. A good rule to stick by is if you can’t prove it, don’t put it! The thing is, there are a few slightly sneaky guidelines. For example, it’s misleading to insinuate you’re more qualified or better than another practitioner (although you may think it’s true). Again, if you can’t prove it, don’t publish it. Even saying you’re qualified can suggest someone else isn’t.
According to the AHPRA guidelines, you also cannot offer a gift, discount or incentive unless the full terms and conditions are disclosed with it. The safest thing you can do is stick to the facts and avoid embellishment unless you know what you’re doing.
It also applies to your reviews and testimonials. You cannot use testimonials to promote your business. Reviews on an independent platform are a little different but you still need to be careful. If you have a patient or client who wants to leave you a review, make sure they know they can’t discuss their treatment or any clinical aspects of their experience. You can suggest they write about the physical location or the customer service side of things. For example, they could say how conveniently located you are, how clean your surgery is and how friendly the staff treated them.
What should I avoid writing?
Generally speaking, it’s best to avoid terms such as cured, miracle, improve, effectively treat, safe, effective, etc.
A big one is the word specialised. Unless you are a qualified specialist in that field, you cannot say you’re a specialist or specialise in xyz. However, you could say you have a special interest in that field of treatment.
It can also be misleading to call yourself or your team qualified, experienced, highly experienced or similar variations. You may be qualified or have 10 years’ experience, but by saying you are, it insinuates other practitioners aren’t.
Unless you’re confident of your knowledge and understanding of the National Law, it may be worth consulting a legal professional.