The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) has released a new version of their advertising guidelines for regulated health services.
Anyone (health practitioners, individuals not registered as health practitioners and body corporates) advertising a regulated health service must ensure their advertising complies with the national law and other relevant legislation.
If you are advertising a regulated health service your advertising must not:
- be false, misleading or deceptive, or likely to be misleading or deceptive
- offer a gift, discount or other inducement unless the terms and conditions of the offer are also stated
- use testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business
- create an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment
- directly or indirectly encourage the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services
There are significant financial penalties for breaches as well as disciplinary action for health professionals who are in breach of the advertising guidelines. It is essential that you make yourself aware of the guidelines in full and ensure that your advertising is compliant with the guidelines. Independent legal advice is recommended from your legal advisor or indemnity insurer if you have concerns. Remember that advertising is any form of verbal, printed and electronic communication that promotes or seeks to attract a person to a regulated health service provider, including social media.
Important changes to the guidelines include:
- additional information regarding testimonials, titles and claims
- new content regarding the evidence required for claims
- re-structuring of the guidelines to make things easier to find
- flowcharts to assist advertisers
There has also been changes made to the compliance and enforcement strategy which include:
- declarations regarding advertising compliance at registration renewal
- false or misleading claims regarding public health emergencies (including COVID-19) may be classed as 'high risk'
- education activities to help with compliance
- information regarding Ahpra's compliance and enforcement approach to the prohibition of using testimonials in advertising
You can find information about the the guidelines and strategy here