Advertising FAQs

Can I offer finance or lines of credit to patients?

 

Offers of gifts or discounts in advertising need to be seriously considered as they may be in breach of AHPRA’s Advertising Guideline and/or the Good Medical Practice: A Code of Conduct for Doctors in Australia and/or the ASPS Code of Practice. According to section 8.6.4 of Good Medical Practice, good medical practice involves:Not offering inducements or using testimonials.

Furthermore, according to the section 133 of the National Law:

A person must not advertise a regulated health service, or a business that provides a regulated health service, in a way that offers a gift, discount, or other inducement to attract a person to use the service or the business, unless the advertisement also sets out the terms and conditions of the offer.

A failure to comply with the Guidelines may constitute unprofessional conduct or professional misconduct on the part of the Member, as well as amounting to a breach of the ASPS Code of Practice.

Can I offer gifts or discounts to patients?

 

Offers of gifts or discounts in advertising need to be seriously considered as they may be in breach of AHPRA’s Advertising Guideline and/or the ASPS Code of Practice. According to section 6.6 of the Guidelines for Advertising of Regulated Health Services:

“The use of gifts or discounts in advertising is inappropriate, due to the potential for such inducements to encourage the unnecessary use of regulated health services.“

A failure to comply with the Guidelines may constitute unprofessional conduct or professional misconduct on the part of the Member, as well as amounting to a breach of the ASPS Code of Practice.

Can I advertise on sites like Groupon, Scoopon and Living Social?

 

Websites such as Groupon, Scoopon and Living Social offer “time-limit deals” that encourage (directly or indirectly) inappropriate, indiscriminate, unnecessary or excessive use of health services. In compliance with s. 133 of the National Law, medical practitioners must not advertise time-limit deals and use phrases such as, “don’t delay”. This form of advertising has the potential to create unrealistic expectations about the effectiveness of certain services and encourage unneccesary use of such services.

Can I use patient testimonials on my website?

 

The use of testimonials or purported testimonials is against s. 133 of the National Law.

What should I keep in mind when using before and after photos?

 

The AHPRA Guidelines for advertising of regulated health services cautions the use of before and after photos in advertising. The use of before and after photos has significant potentional to be misleading or deceptive, to convey inappropriately high expections of a successful outcome and to encourage the uncessary use of health services.

The AHPRA Guidelines state that if before and after photos are used, care must be taken to ensure that the images are truthful by:

 

  • Providing images that are as similar as possible in content, camera angle, background, framing and exposure
  • ensuring consistency in posture, clothing and make up
  • Ensuring consistency in lighting and contrast
  • Stating if photographs have been altered in any way
  • Confirming that the referenced procedure is the only visible change that has occured for the person being photographed

What are the advertising guidelines for Schedule 4 items like collagen and botox?

 

According to the TGA, items listed in Schedule 4 of the current Poisons Standard as “Prescription-Only Substances” cannot be directly advertised to the general public. These items include dermal fillers such as:

  • Restylane, Perlane, Dermalive, Juvéderm (hyaluronic acid)
  • Hylaform (hyaluronan, sodium hyaluronate)
  • Collagen, Zyderm, Zyplast, Cosmoplast, Cosmoderm (collagen)
  • Botox, Dysport (botulinum toxin)
  • Newfill, Nufill, Sculptra (polylactic acid)
  • Aquamid (polyacrylamide)

 

Suggested Alternatives

The following phrases are accepted by the TGA in advertising dermal fillers:

  • Cosmetic injections;
  • Anti-wrinkle injections/treatments;
  • Wrinkle injections/treatments;
  • Injections/treatments for lips;
  • Injections/treatments for fine lines/folds/age lines;
  • Wrinkle and lip enhancement/fulfillment/augmentation;
  • Injections to enhance pouting of the lips;
  • Injections which reduce the depth of fine lines/wrinkles around the face/lips;
  • Or other words and phrases with similar meaning, but without referring to specific products or ingredient names.

Advertisers, businesses or service providers are also reminded of their obligations under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and State/Territory ‘fair trading/consumer affairs’ legislation.

Source: TGA website.

What is my protected title as a plastic surgeon ?

What is my protected title as a plastic surgeon?

The protected title for a fully accredited plastic surgeon is “Specialist Plastic Surgeon”.

What does “Specialist Plastic Surgeon” mean?

According to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the Medical Board of Australia, a Specialist Plastic Surgeon must be:

  • Accredited by the Australian Medical Council in the Specialty of Plastic Surgery and;
  • Registered under National Law in that Specialty.

All ASPS Members have the right to use the protected title of “Specialist Plastic Surgeon” and are encouraged to do so on their marketing and branding materials.

How is the title of “Specialist Plastic Surgeon” protected?

Sections 115 and 118 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 prohibit a person from knowingly or recklessly taking or using a specialist title for a recognised Specialty unless the person is registered under the National Law in the Specialty.

Moreover, a registered practitioner who does not hold specialist registration under the National Law may not use the title “specialist”, or through advertising or other means, present themselves to the public as holding specialist registration in a health profession. This includes the use of title, name, initial, symbol, word or description that indicates, or could be reasonably understood to indicate, that the person is a specialist, or is authorised or qualified to practice in a recognised Specialty.

Can I use other professional titles?

A practitioner who holds specialist registration in an AMC recognised Specialty is not limited to using only the specialist title approved by the Ministerial Council. A registered specialist may use any other title of their choice, as long as they do not present themselves as holding a type of registration (including specialist registration) that they do not hold.

Using ‘specialist’ title in the absence of specialist registration

When there is no specialist registration available to a health profession under the National Scheme, registered practitioners must take care in their use of professional titles. This is designed to avoid misleading the public into believing that a practitioner is a specialist when they are not.

Useful Sources/Links

Specialist Registration, AHPRA – Quick Reference

Guidelines for advertising of regulated health services, Medical Board of Australia

Registration Standard, List of specialties, fields of specialty practice and related title