As a health practitioner, you would have had to satisfy certain requirements to become a registered and accredited health provider in your field.
But did you know that you also have a legal responsibility regarding the way you promote your business and services?
What is AHPRA compliance?
To ensure that the public is able to make informed healthcare choices, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has strict regulations about what health practitioners can and cannot say in all their advertising material.
And when they refer to advertising material, they mean all forms of printed and electronic media, including your website and patient testimonials.
Section 133 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law states that “a person must not advertise a regulated health service or a business that provides a regulated health service, in a way that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to be misleading or deceptive, or
- offers a gift, discount or other inducement to attract a person to use the service or the business, unless the advertisement also states the terms and conditions of the offer, or
- uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business, or
- creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment, or
- directly or indirectly encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services.”
Yeah. It’s a lot!
Why is AHPRA compliance a big deal?
AHPRA helps National Boards protect the public and manage risks by ensuring that health practitioners provide their patients with accurate, up-to-date information, that allows them to make an informed choice about their treatment.
Advertising can heavily influence the decisions that patients make when choosing their healthcare needs. Using false, misleading or deceptive claims in promoting and advertising your practice, means that your patients are not able to make informed choices based on all the evidence.
Who needs to be AHPRA compliant?
All health practitioners regulated by AHPRA need to follow AHPRA’s advertising guidelines. This includes:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Health Practitioners
- Chinese Medicine Practitioners (acupuncturists)
- Medical Practitioners
- Nurses and Midwives
- Occupational Therapists
- Radiation practitioners
What happens if you’re not AHPRA-compliant?
Quite simply, you can be fined a lot of money, be restricted in how you can practice, or even go to jail.
As a registered health practitioner, it’s YOU who is liable if there is a breach of these guidelines. Not your staff, or a contractor. And even if you don’t mean to breach the guidelines, or you weren’t aware you were breaching them, you can still be in trouble for not being AHPRA-compliant.
Being in breach of the AHPRA guidelines is a criminal offence. Depending on how you breach these guidelines, you can be fined as much as $120,000! Under the National Law, you may also have a restriction placed on your health practitioner registration, which may affect your ability to practice.
And in serious circumstances, you can be referred to a tribunal or even jailed.
I’m sure you could do without any of that!
How I can help
Of course, these guidelines are freely available on AHPRA’s Advertising Hub. However, navigating these can be confusing and checking your advertising can be time consuming.
Especially if you’re busy treating patients.
And if writing’s not your strong suit, or you’re not up with the latest SEO-practices, then writing copy that converts will be a massive headache.
That’s where I can help!
I have an AHPRA compliance hub full of information, resources and services to help you comply with your advertising obligations.
I can also help in 3 ways:
Of course, if you need more specific help please get in touch.
Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure information contained in this post is in line with relevant legislation and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) advertising guidelines.
The Melbourne Health Writer is not a legal professional and therefore will not be held responsible for any non-compliant advertising that may result in an audit, fine or other sanction, as a result of following the information in this post.
If you are unsure if your advertising complies with the National Law, you should seek advice from your professional association, insurer and/or independent legal adviser. We recommend you find further information about AHPRA compliance, including specific examples at https://www.ahpra.gov.au/Resources/Advertising-hub.aspx .