New guidance in health advertising

 

This time of year we often reflect on the year that was. In 2020, it’s been a very different year for most of us due to COVID-19. During this time a lot has changed and challenged us.

The Physiotherapy Board of Australia has been impressed by the way the profession has adapted and responded during the pandemic while continuing to provide treatment and keep clients safe.

‘The Physiotherapy Board of Australia offers you its continuing commitment to support you and the profession in 2021,’ says Physiotherapy Board of Australia Chair Kim Gibson.

Updated resources are available to help physiotherapists meet the requirements for advertising under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (National Law).

The Guidelines for advertising regulated health services were revised by National Boards and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) as part of a scheduled review in line with good regulatory practice.

The guidelines have been revised to ensure they effectively and clearly explain the requirements for advertising a regulated health service under the National Law.

Physiotherapists are encouraged to check their advertising aligns with the updated guidelines due to be released at the scheduled time of this publication going to print. The new guidelines will come into effect before the end of this year.

Anyone who advertises a regulated health service, such as physiotherapists, must meet the requirements of the National Law advertising requirements. This includes registered health practitioners, individuals who are not health practitioners and businesses.

Under the National Law, a regulated health service or a business providing a regulated health service must not advertise in a way that:

  • is false, misleading or deceptive
  • uses gifts, discounts or inducements without explaining the terms and conditions of the offer
  • uses a testimonial or a purported testimonial
  • creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment
  • directly or indirectly encourages indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services.

‘The National Law limits how regulated health services can be advertised. It is a professional obligation for physiotherapists who advertise to be aware of what is and what is not acceptable advertising,’ says Kim.

‘When preparing their advertising, including any social media advertising, physiotherapists are encouraged to check their advertising complies with the advertising obligations.’

Ahpra National Director, Compliance Jason McHeyzer adds: ‘We recognise that most health practitioners want to comply with the law and their professional obligations, and we aim to make compliance as easy as possible.

'We will continue to provide information to practitioners and their professional organisations to help them understand their advertising obligations.’

The advertising guidelines are part of the broader advertising compliance and enforcement strategy for the National Scheme, which explains how National Boards and Ahpra manage advertising complaints and compliance, including the regulatory powers available to deal with breaches of the National Law.

When applying to renew their registration in 2020, physiotherapists are now required to complete a declaration about their advertising compliance.

There are possible consequences of non-compliance—more serious cases can involve disciplinary action, such as conditions restricting how a practitioner can advertise, or prosecution by Ahpra through the courts.

>> Visit here for more information. For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (within Australia) or +61 3 9275 9009 (for overseas callers).

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