From low rates to cheap discounts and complimentary gifts, the world of dental advertisement has evolved a lot as younger minds have wholeheartedly accepted it as a boon to increase patient flow.
Many professionals find themselves ill-equipped in handling this relatively new and continuously evolving trend. Although advertising by dental/medical professionals has always been a controversial issue, there has been a dramatic surge in dental marketing in the past decade.
It is important to note that although a mega marketing gimmick can give you a few extra patients, in India we have a definite set of laws related to an advertisement that needs to be followed.
What rules should one abide by while marketing his/her practice?
At present we do not have any special central statutory body for regulating the advertising industry. It is regulated by a non-statutory body i.e “ Advertising Standards Council Of India”(ASCI).
According to the Dental Council of India, the dental surgeon is permitted to make a formal announcement in the press release of his ethically permitted practice in the following cases:
- On starting practice
- On change of type of practice
- On changing address
- On temporary absence from duty for a prolonged period of time
- On resumption of practice after a prolonged break
- On succeeding to another practice
- About the availability of new equipment/services without falsely boasting about it being the first and best, especially if it is already present at other clinics.
- Publishing phone numbers in directories, yellow pages, or on the internet.
- Maintaining a factual clinic website.
What is not allowed?!
- Appointing or paying agents for bringing in patients for treatment.
- Publishing the name of doctor or clinic in commercials like that of toothpaste or toothbrush, unless that product is self-manufactured by the dentist himself.
- Publishing articles or opinions on any procedure in journals or magazines without having any evidence of the same.
- Printing of photographs on the letterhead or on the signboard.
- Claiming to be a specialist through degrees other than those approved by the Dental Council of India.
- Dental ‘hospital’ can be mentioned in the name only if the practice has the facility of providing post-operative care to the patient on an inpatient basis for several days like a hospital set-up.
- Indulging in false promises through direct advertisement.
- Advertisement in electronic or print media that display names, addresses, phone numbers of dentists as on-screen scrollers.
What if you are caught doing illegal advertisements?
It will not call for disciplinary action unless you are caught! Yes, it will only be considered a crime when a complaint is launched and proved.
The Dental Council of India is responsible for taking action, the time limit of which is 6 months. The dentist cannot practice during this period. As per the decision by the council, the name of the dentist can be either temporarily or permanently removed from the registry.
Note: If the dentist is not satisfied with the decision, he can approach the state within 60 days.
There is a mixed opinion among dentists with some considering advertisement as unethical while some feel that it is essential for better practice and a good patient flow. On which side of the road do you stand?! Let us know your views in the comments.
Disclaimer: The above article is for information purposes only and it should not be used as a reference for any legal procedure.
Source: Revised Code of Ethics by Dental Council of India