Concise Advice

Advertising health services

Last reviewed/updated: 01 Jun 2022

Laws

  • False, misleading or deceptive advertising, including:
    • making scientific claims without providing evidence
    • comparing services in a biased or incorrect way
    • false claims about, and incorrect use of, qualifications or recognised specialist titles
  • Gifts, discounts or inducements without terms and conditions
  • Testimonials
  • Creating unreasonable expectations of beneficial treatment
  • Encouraging indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services
  • Naming prescription medicines

Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service, The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)

Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia (section 10.7), Medical Board AHPRA

Testimonials: understand the requirements, AHPRA

Advertising for health services, Therapeutic Goods Administration

 

If you use social media to advertise your health services:

  • all the usual advertising laws apply
  • any comments left on social media pages in your control that are personal statements of support (testimonials) about clinical aspects must be removed. You’re not responsible for testimonials posted on a website or in social media that you don’t control, but don’t share or re-tweet clinical testimonials posted on a third-party website
  • be mindful not to breach a patient’s privacy
  • communicate professionally and respectfully
  • don’t contradict public health messaging or the codes, guidelines and standards of the medical profession
  • ensure claims are backed up by the best available scientific evidence.

Guidance on social media, The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and National Boards

TGA social media advertising guide, Therapeutic Goods Administration

Testimonials: understand the requirements, AHPRA

 

You can only send direct marketing to patients who have consented to receiving it.

Any direct marketing must provide a simple way for the recipient to opt out from similar future communication.

 
Australian Privacy Principle 7 – Direct marketing, Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

You can only call yourself a “specialist” if you hold specialist registration in a recognised specialty in accordance with the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. 

If you don’t hold specialist registration, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) considers phrases such as “specialises in” as likely to mislead the public. So use less misleading wording, e.g. “substantial experience working in”.

 

Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service, AHPRA

  • 4.1.4 Titles and claims about registration, competence and qualifications
  • Appendix 2: Title protection

Medical specialties and specialty fields, AHPRA
 

X  Statements about clinical aspects, e.g. symptoms, diagnosis, treatment or outcomes

Statements about nonclinical aspects, e.g. “helpful receptionists” or “easy parking”

You are considered responsible for testimonials on websites you control, e.g. your practice website or Facebook page. Many practices disable the Reviews tab on their Facebook page. You’re not responsible for comments left on third party sites which you do not control, e.g. doctor rating sites. 

Selective editing of reviews may be false, misleading or deceptive. 

 
Testimonials: understand the requirements, The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency

Need more specific advice?

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  • Don't hesitate to ask us your question, we're here to support Members

 

The information on this page is a guide only. Members are encouraged to contact us directly for specific advice. If you are not an MDA National Member, contact your medical indemnity insurer for advice specific to your situation.