Medical Practices have never really had to consider ‘advertising’ but in today’s changing and challenging world marketing is becoming increasingly important for all fields. Marketing is more than selling and advertising. It includes; analysis, planning, pricing, customer service and monitoring.
Medical Practices have certain restrictions though when it comes to promotion. The Medical Council of New Zealand provides guidelines that Doctors should adhere to when advertising:
• Clear and accurate health care information
• Be cautious when ‘Advertising’
• Take reasonable steps to control content
• Claims must be valid, evidence-based and able to be substantiated
• Must not encourage excessive use of health resources
• Not appropriate to off coupons, gift certificates or medical treatments as prizes
• Health and welfare of the patient comes first
Advertising includes, but is not limited to, any public communication using television, radio, motion picture, newspaper, billboard, list, display, the internet or directory, and includes business cards, announcement cards, office signs, letterhead, telephone directory listings, professional lists, professional directory listings and similar professional notices, and which is intended to promote health services, health-related products, a doctor or a clinic or group with which a doctor is associated.
We recommend using a disclaimer on your website and social media platforms – for two reasons. One to let your audience know you will moderate the page and shows you are a responsible advertiser and secondly to say that the information you are providing is not specific medical advice and that patients should see their doctor or medical practitioner if they are concerned.
There is plenty of ‘marketing’ you can still employ as a medical centre that will help not only the Practice but be of benefit to your patients. Such as promoting when the flu vaccinations are ready, alerting people to any outbreaks of contagious diseases, healthy eating or exercise tips and some ‘medical humour’.