All of our dental clients in Australia have recently been scratching their heads over Ahpra’s new updates. We thought it would be a good idea to unpack them in this short blog post for you. If you didn’t know, Ahpra has updated some of their policies which came into effect on July 01 2023. There is a big change and shift in the rules around cosmetic procedures. A breach of this legislation may form the basis for disciplinary action under the National Law. Keep reading to find out the rules which have been abbreviated on our end for easy reading and we have also given you some potential solutions that you can start utilizing today.
Advertising is any way that you communicate with your patients (i.e. social media, television commercials, blogs, magazine articles, billboards, etc.). So all of these new rules apply to all of these channels. There are more details on the Ahpra website on their advertising hub.
The Publishing of testimonials or purported testimonials
Although patients can no longer give testimonials about anything clinical (i.e. symptoms, diagnosis, or treatment outcome) they can still give testimonials about your customer service or communication style and the business itself. Additionally, patients present in your advertising must be consented separate to your usual consent process. That means a separate Advertising consent should be given to your patient. The patient must be shown the images you wish to use, and then approve the use of those images. If the patient asks for their images to be withdrawn, you must do so immediately. The patient by appearing to be pleased with their result is endorsing your service, and this is indeed a testimonial. You cannot use “reveal” videos on your website or social media. You cannot use a patient story in your social media posts, as this again uses the voice of a testimonial. Words such as “she felt more confident”, “She had a psychological boost” or “Felt better about herself” cannot be used. AHPRA states that “this advertising is misleading and may create unreasonable expectations in relation to the claimed psychological benefits.” The use of Influencers (paid or unpaid) cannot be used. AHPRA states: “The medical practitioner must not provide or offer to provide free or discounted surgery to prospective patients, including social media influencers or users, for promotion of cosmetic surgery or services.” This includes any cosmetic procedure – surgical or non-surgical.
Do NOT be false, misleading or deceptive
You have to ensure you say and show the right things as a practitioner. You cannot make statements about the effectiveness of a treatment that are not supported by acceptable evidence (i.e. wider scientific academic research). You cannot share scientific information that is inaccurate or unbalanced. It will also need to make sense to the public so you’ll have to give it to your patients in layman’s terms. You cannot create an unreasonable expectation of a beneficial treatment. You cannot sexualize an image to gain more attention. Where a patient is wearing bikinis, or posing in an evocative way, this is not allowed. You cannot minimize, underplay or underrepresent the risks associated with a treatment you have to say it how it is. If there’s pain you need to say so. You cannot say that your services are superior. Ultimately, you should sell your service based on merit. And be very honest and clear. You cannot create urgency in your marketing (i.e you need this treatment because you have oral health issues). Cannot do a self-imposed title i.e. king of injectable, etc. Can’t say you’re a specialist of something unless you actually are. This terminology is not allowed. AHPRA offers a list on the Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service document. You cannot make unqualified claims.
Censoring your content
You cannot use emojis to mask a patient photo on social media. Smiley faces, stars or such can be considered “emotive” and cannot be used on social media or your website. You should instead use a simple white or black bar.
There are more rules that were released, but in this blog post we wanted to focus on the rules that mainly relate to videography and photography which we specialize in.
Solutions to utilize in your content marketing strategy
Smile reveal videos (before and after) (Consult a Lawyer First)
The before photo and/or video should have the same lighting, background, makeup, perspective, lens, etc. to the after photo. You cannot make the after photo 10x better then the before photo. This creates an unrealistic expectation for the patient. So it is encouraged to show before and afters, but you just have to be very accurate with how you portray them. You can’t over edit the before or after photos. You cannot share the use of single image outcomes. This means that you are not permitted to show the outcome of a procedure without showing the pre-treatment baseline. This creates an unrealistic portrait of outcomes, where the public cannot compare the outcome of the procedure. You would have to remove the interview element where they explain how amazing the outcome is. It needs to be more basic and not over manufactured. We strongly advise you to consult a lawyer to ensure compliance before proceeding with such content
Teeth Only Videos: Emphasizing Clinical Details and Accuracy
In order to provide clear and accurate information, we recommend creating videos that solely focus on the teeth and remove the human element. These videos can delve into the clinical aspects of treatments and procedures, allowing the practitioner to explain in detail. However, it’s crucial to avoid exaggeration or creating an unrealistic portrayal.
Educational Videos (Video and Animation): Informing and Educating
It’s important to note that providing information about treatment or costs associated with consultation is not considered advertising. Hence, creating educational and informational videos is highly encouraged. This allows you to share valuable knowledge and insights with your audience while remaining compliant.
Customer Service and Communication Style Videos: Highlighting Positive Experiences
While testimonials related to clinical aspects are not allowed, patients can still express their experiences with you as a practitioner. These videos can focus on customer service, communication style, and the overall patient experience. Highlighting positive interactions can help build trust and credibility.
Dental Staff Videos: Offering an Insider Look
Providing patients with an insider look into your dental staff can be beneficial. These videos can take the form of day-in-the-life features, interesting facts about the team, or even lighthearted and quirky content. Sharing these behind-the-scenes glimpses helps patients familiarize themselves with the individuals responsible for their smile transformations.
Frequently Asked Questions: Addressing Patient Queries
Creating FAQ videos is a great way to address common questions and concerns that patients may have. By offering informative responses, you can provide the necessary information patients need before attending your practice. These videos serve as a helpful resource for potential patients seeking clarification.
About the Dental Practice: Setting Expectations
To give patients a better understanding of what they can expect from your dental practice, it’s recommended to create videos that explain your practice philosophy, values, and specialties. This helps establish transparency and allows potential patients to make informed decisions.
Conceptual Videos: Making Social Commentary (Consult a Lawyer First)
While discussing the practice or treatment received is restricted, there is potential for creating conceptual videos that explore the meaning and significance of smiling. These videos can provide social commentary and stimulate thought. However, it is strongly advised to consult a lawyer to ensure compliance before proceeding with such content
In conclusion, the recent updates bring about various considerations for dental and medical practitioners. While the new policies impose restrictions, there are still opportunities to create compelling and emotionally engaging content by approaching it differently. It’s crucial to bear in mind that these guidelines apply to all AHPRA registered practitioners, including dentists.
It’s important to note that AHPRA won’t review your content for compliance. To ensure adherence to the new policies, your best course of action is to engage an independent lawyer who can review your content and verify that you’re not in violation of any regulations.
If you’re seeking video marketers who understand these policies and can save you time in navigating them, we are here to assist you. From conceptualization to the actual shoot, we can help bring your vision to life while ensuring compliance with the regulations. Let’s have a conversation and explore how we can support your marketing efforts within the bounds of the new policies.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is based on independent research and should not be considered legal advice. It is strongly recommended that dental and medical professionals consult with their own legal advisors to ensure compliance with Aphra’s policies and any other relevant regulations. This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional legal counsel.