Some of you are familiar with the Advertising Standard. Among other things, it prohibits endorsements, testimonials, superlatives and anything that could be interpreted as promoting a demand for unnecessary services.
I know some of you hate it. I have heard from you that it is not fair that you must compete with unregulated clinic owners who freely use these very advertising tools. I understand that. When the College is publishing standards it is important to know that the standards are based on feedback that we receive from the profession as to what the expectations should be. In the fall of 2013 we advised the profession that the advertising standard was up for review and we sought feedback from all of you. The feedback we received was that the expectations defined in the standard were reasonable. So unless new evidence arises, it seems as though the standard is set at the right place. In addition, the government has been requiring the new Colleges to have advertising regulations (a higher level of accountability) that address just these issues.
The goal of the advertising standard is to ensure that members of the public can rely on the information provided by physiotherapists to make a decision when they are choosing a physio. We, as a society, expect to be able to trust our care providers. We all know that there is enough information out there to suggest that you shouldn’t believe everything that you see or hear but patients in pain or family members seeking care for loved ones may not be as skeptical of advertising by health care providers as they would be if they were looking at a used car ad. The nature of self-regulation is to protect the public from undesirable or unprofessional behaviours by those few members who might engage in them. These are the reasons that physiotherapists are held accountable to an advertising standard.
So I don’t want to talk too much about what’s wrong with the standard. I would rather talk about how we should apply it. You are the profession. These are your standards. Tell me what you think.
On its website, a physio-owned clinic has a beautifully produced video done by a well-known television personality talking about how the clinic keeps him active. This meets the definition of advertisement in the standard. Seems like an endorsement, or do you disagree?
A WagJagTM (or LivingSocial or Groupon) promotion offers 10 physio sessions and a 50% discount on orthotics for a low, low price. The advertisement doesn’t say anything about what happens if the first assessment does not demonstrate that physio is clinically indicated.
Do you think this intends to promote unnecessary services?
I would love to hear from you about whether these situations breach the standard. Are they professionally appropriate? Do they mislead the public? What other advertisements have you seen or used that you want to talk about?
Tell me – tell your colleagues – what you think.