Testimonials are not permitted on medical websites

I wish to thank so many of you who have given me such wonderful feedback about the care I have provided for you and your unborn baby during your pregnancy.

It warms my heart and gives me such great joy.  I do my very best to provide the best medical care I can possibly give you.

Sadly, I cannot share these affirmations of appreciation on my website, even when I have your permission. I also can’t have your wonderful Facebook endorsements appearing on my Facebook site. Very sad!!

As a medical practitioner, I must comply with the ahpra1National Law to practice. This Law is enforced by AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) who is responsible for  registration and regulation of health professions in Australia.

‘Testimonials’ is listed as point 3 of the regulation pertaining to advertising of Health Practitioner Regulation National Law – Section 133

‘A person must not advertise a regulated health service, or a business that provides a regulated health service, in a way that —

  1. uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business

thank-you-cartoonThis may seem confusing as online reviews of businesses, products, services, etc. is a normal part of life. The public (me included) so often check out such reviews to help make a selection.

But it is not permissible for a health care practitioner to post reviews and so to provide feedback from their patients about their services and care.

The regulations about ‘no testimonials’ pertains also to dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, Chinese medicos, psychologists, podiatrists, pharmacists, optometrists, occupational therapists, medical radiation specialists and to nurses and midwives. Their registration and regulation is also the responsibility of AHPRA.

AHPRA states ‘the National Law is not intended to stop members of the community and patients from discussing their experiences online or in person.’ This law does not cover reviews and other comments about a health care practitioner posted on other platforms e.g. Google reviews, chat rooms, the Hills District Mums Facebook site, your personal Facebook or Google + site, etc. This is because it is not the health care practitioner who posts the review or controls the social media platform.

AHPRA states ‘Testimonials are statements making a recommendation about a service or its quality. Advertising is something that intends to promote or encourage the use of a regulated health service. Social media used to promote a business, such as a business Facebook page, is considered advertising and must therefore not include testimonials. A patient social media page, such as a bulletin board or Facebook group, where patients discuss their personal experiences, is not considered advertising.’

The National Law bans the use of testimonials or purported testimonials in advertising a regulated health service. National Boards cannot change this legal requirement. This means it is not acceptable to use testimonials in your own advertising, such as on your Facebook page, in a print ad or on your website.

The National Law does not ban the use of social media or comments in social media if they do not involve a practitioner (or their representative) advertising a regulated health service. The guidelines do not ban unsolicited public discussion and opinion sharing about practitioners outside the context of advertising a regulated health service.

If you are using your social media page to advertise regulated health services you provide, then you need to remove any testimonial that is part of your advertising.

If a patient posts something about your practice/services that could be seen to be promoting you and your services on a website or in social media you don’t control, you should not share or re-tweet the comment to promote a regulated health service on your own page, as this could be considered advertising.’

While you are most welcome to share ‘Proud Parent’ photos on my Facebook site, you can’t include any comments of affirmation as these could be considered advertising.

Also see the Medical Board of Australia website:

Posted by Dr Gary Sykes on -

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