Making sure you abide by the laws governing advertising is incredibly important. There can be serious consequences if you get it wrong. But where do you start when there’s so much information out there? We’ve broken the AHPRA advertising guidelines down for you.
AHPRA is the national governing body for allied health practitioners in Australia. As such, they regulate advertising under national law. Anyone who advertises an allied health service must abide by these rules set out in section 133 of the National Law.
Let’s have a look at the legislation.
A person must not advertise a regulated health service, or a business that provides a regulated health service, in a way that—
a) is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to be misleading or deceptive
- Advertise your services on their merits
- Be honest about what you do
- Say you are better than others
- Use words like “specialising in” (if you don’t have specialist qualifications)
- Mislead using emphasis, comparison or omission
- Use phrases like “lowest prices”
b) offers a gift, discount or other inducement to attract a person to use the service or the business, unless the advertisement also states the terms and conditions of the offer
- Offer gifts or discounts providing you have clearly defined terms and conditions and have them accessible on your post, or link to the conditions published on your website. Of course, these types of offers need to meet all other AHPRA conditions.
- Advertise gifts or discounts with a price that is misleading
- Have hidden costs in gifts or discounts
c) uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business
- Patients can leave testimonials on information sharing websites such as Three Best Rated
- Solicit testimonials
- Publish testimonials on your website or social media platforms
- Use testimonials to promote your business
- Quote or share testimonials from patients
You should make any effort to remove testimonials where you can control them, such as on your Facebook profile.
d) creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment
- Be upfront and honest about the benefits and risks of treatment
- Manage expectations through producing ethical advertising
- Create unreasonable expectations of clients
- Offer miracle cures
- Fail to disclose the risks of treatment
- Make clients believe they will suffer from not undertaking the service
- Make guarantees
- Use the word exclusive when describing treatments
- Promote that your practitioners have a unique skill set
e) directly or indirectly encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services.
- Provide clients with honest and clinically relevant advice on an individual basis when requested
- Encourage bulk purchases
- Encourage unnecessary consumption of services
- Use limited time offers to pressure a client into making a decision
- Use phrases such as “don’t delay” and “achieve the look you want” when encouraging a person to improve their physical appearance
- Using coupons, vouchers or discounts that encourage clients to utilise the service without having a clinical need
According to the AHPRA advertising guidelines, the maximum penalty can be up to $5,000 for individuals or $10,000 for body corporate. It is a criminal offence, and if you are a registered AHP practitioner you can face disciplinary action. This is why it’s important to make sure you are compliant with the AHPRA guidelines!
Here at Marketing Movement, we have extensive knowledge on AHPRA guidelines and endeavour to ensure our practices are compliant. Have questions about the guidelines or want peace of mind that your marketing activities are AHPRA friendly? Contact us today.