As you may know, last week I posted about the potential data breach that has surrounded the HealthEngine App, which has again been in hot water this week for apparently offering gift vouchers to patients who provided billing information.
AHPRA has recently released some additional guidelines, which has been updated to address the issue of editing reviews and testimonials.
Just to recap…
As a medical services provider, under the National Law, you must not advertise a service in a way that uses testimonials or purported testimonials about your service or business.
This applies to all forms of advertising – both online, print, TV, radio etc
AHPRA has clarified the word testimonial to mean “a positive statement about a person or thing” and includes “recommendations, or statements about the clinical aspects of a regulated health service”.
It goes without saying that editing testimonials may be in beach of the law and would never be recommended as it has the potential to mis-lead and above all else it’s potentially dishonest and not in the spirit in which the testimonial was intended.
What is AHPRA’s view on testimonials?
AHPRA clearly states that you should not use testimonials in any form of your advertising, including your website and social media.
The best way to make sure you stay clear of action from AHPRA is to simply avoid using any testimonials on your website or social media platforms. Whilst you are unable to control third party applications where patients may leave reviews – we advise you not to encourage patients to use these apps or websites nor should you re-post or comment on anything that has been said about you or your service on third party sites and apps.
Difference between testimonials and reviews
The new guidance distinguishes between testimonials and reviews.
The National Law only bans testimonials for advertising purposes. Reviews left by patients on social medial platforms or third-party websites that you don’t control are permitted.
However, you could enter murky water if you then tried to use that review in your advertising material either by responding to the review or putting it on your website (for example).
To make matters more complicated – reviews which DON’T mention the clinical aspects of the care provided can be use in advertising – provided they are unedited.
So, as a medical service provider what would I do?
It’s such a grey area, my suggestion is that, where possible, medical service providers distance themselves as much as possible from engaging with or using testimonials or reviews in any form of advertising.
Implement some clear social media guidelines for your staff who may look after this for you and make sure anything posted, published or available on your website or social media is factual and accurate and does not in any way have the potential to mis-lead.
For more information on how AHPRA guidelines apply to your practice please feel free to get in touch for a no-cost consultation.