General practice tool kit

Marketing your practice

Advertising

Last revised: 24 Oct 2019

Definition of advertising

Advertising is a well-known form of marketing, and examples include the use of media such as TV, newspapers, radio, direct mail, internet and social media. Advertising can be defined as:
“a business’s non-personal presentation of information about a product or service to potential or existing customers.”

Advertising of medical practices is subject to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law 2009 (the National Law) as interpreted by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the Medical Board of Australia (MBA).

Any advertisement your practice runs must be in line with these and other relevant legislation and guidelines. As the National Law is enacted by each state and territory, refer to the law in your jurisdiction.

General practices can use only factual information in their advertisements that allows clients to make informed choices. This means you cannot make claims about the quality or outcomes of your services (eg “we provide the best general practice services in this region”; “our superior clinical staff will help you deal with any physical and mental condition”).

The information that you are permitted to provide in your advertisements includes:

  • practice details, such as phone numbers, location, after hours availability, accreditation status
  • practitioner and staff information, including qualifications, accreditations, past positions, work experience
  • services available (if you advertise surgical and invasive procedures, the advertisement must have an appropriate warning statement clearly visible)
  • services fees, which must be exact, along with bulk billing arrangements, health insurance arrangements, and payment methods and plans
  • complaints procedures.

You cannot use patient testimonials about clinical aspects of your service to advertise your practice. You may use a patient’s review in your advertising if it deals only with non-clinical aspects of their experience (eg parking access, the currency of the waiting room magazines) – assuming you have the permission of the patient and the website on which their review is published.

RACGP Standards

C1.1A Our patients can access up-to-date information about the practice.

At a minimum, this information contains:

  • our practice’s address and telephone numbers
  • our consulting hours and details of arrangements for care outside normal opening hours
  • our practice’s billing principles
  • a list of our practitioners
  • our practice’s communication policy, including when and how we receive and return telephone calls and electronic communications
  • our practice’s policy for managing patient health information (or its principles and how full details can be obtained from the practice)
  • how to provide feedback or make a complaint to the practice
  • details on the range of services we provide.

View the standards >

Tip

There is a difference between direct advertising and undertaking activities that involve sending recalls and reminders to patients. See OAIC for more information.

This event attracts CPD points and can be self recorded

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