In Australia, strict regulations apply to the way that registered health care professionals can promote their services – and that includes website content.
This means that you could find yourself in hot water, even when you thought you’d fulfilled your obligations under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) advertising guidelines.
For example – are you using testimonials on your website or Facebook? If so, you have probably broken the rules*!
If you are found to be in breach of the AHPRA Guidelines, it is a criminal offence and at time of writing, carries a fine of up to $5 000 (individual) or $10 000 (bodies corporate).
As a registered health practitioner, YOU are the one that is liable, not your staff or a contractor. So you will want to be very sure that when you delegate or outsource marketing tasks such as social media, copywriting, or SEO to somebody else, that they have a comprehensive knowledge of these guidelines.
I’ve helped many clients to satisfy AHPRA requirements, even after they’ve received a formal notice, including:
- Chinese Medicine Practitioners (acupuncturists)
- Medical Practitioners
Although the guidelines are freely available on the AHPRA website, it is a lot of information to digest. AHPRA tends to assume that if you are smart enough to be a health professional, you are smart enough to read and abide by the advertising guidelines. While this may be true, it does take a lot of time – and time is at a premium for busy health professionals and business owners.
The first you may know that you have (unwittingly) committed a breach, is when you receive an official letter from AHPRA. If this has happened to you, the fines and penalties mentioned can be quite alarming !
It can also be extremely confusing as you may not even realise the exact changes required to comply with section 133 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. You may be advised to consult your professional association, lawyer, or insurer, if you aren’t confident about remedying the problem yourself.
However, there is a better, more affordable option if you have fallen foul of the AHPRA guidelines, or are just concerned about whether your website content complies.
Help with AHPRA Compliance
Because of my wealth of experience in health care copywriting, I am fully conversant with the AHPRA guidelines.
Although I am not a legal professional, I have had practitioners contact me for help after being notified of a breach by AHPRA, which I was able to fully resolve for them. Having been through the process with other health practitioners, I can review your website, make recommendations and implement changes to help you fulfil the requirements, and ease your distress.
If you are having AHPRA headaches, please feel free to get in touch to organise a website review and/or the edits needed to ensure your website is compliant.
“AHPRA reviewed the changes and were happy with it all …” Jessica Hewett, Nuwa Natural Health Gold Coast.
*But not always, which is why you need to find somebody who can help you clarify the difference.