Healthcare no place for advertising gimmicks

Bastian Seidel

7/12/2017 8:21:57 AM

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel writes for newsGP about Dial a Home Doctor offering 10,000 tickets to Dreamworld on the Gold Coast.

Dr Seidel believes campaigns such as Dial a Home Doctor’s ‘A Night @ Dreamworld’ can unnecessarily divert patients from daytime general practice into the after-hours period.
Dr Seidel believes campaigns such as Dial a Home Doctor’s ‘A Night @ Dreamworld’ can unnecessarily divert patients from daytime general practice into the after-hours period.

Marketing promotions that involve giveaways to promote urgent after-hours primary care services over regular general practice care are inappropriate and unacceptable.
I urge the Federal Government to ban direct-to-consumer advertising of urgent after-hours primary care services.
I am extremely troubled by Dial a Home Doctor’s marketing scheme that has seen the after-hours health provider offer 10,000 tickets to Dreamworld on the Gold Coast.
Promoting after-hours care by giving away thousands of passes to Dreamworld is inappropriate advertising for a health service provider. We are not talking about supermarkets or cafes; these businesses are dealing in the health of Australian people.
Advertising and marketing campaigns that unnecessarily divert patients from daytime general practice into the after-hours period represent a pathway to fragmented care and potentially poorer outcomes for patients.
The RACGP is not opposed to after-hours services or their right to provide appropriate care, but rather calls for the standards of daytime general practice to be applied to the after-hours period.
It is vital patients have access to high-quality after-hours primary care services delivered by a specialist GP or a doctor actively working towards specialist recognition as a GP, but these services should not be considered as a ‘first option’ for patients in the place of in-hours services.
I welcomed the Federal Government’s Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce report on urgent after-hours primary care services in October, and look forward to working with the Department of Health and after-hours providers to ensure Australian patients always receive high-quality care.
As an academic, evidence-based college, the RACGP will continue to work in the best interests of Australia’s GPs and their patients.

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Farid Zaer   8/12/2017 10:05:09 AM

Chairman Seidel is correct, only offer health incentives for compliant patients, like a free sleep test, or a free 24 hour blood pressure monitor, etc

Mai Maddisson   8/12/2017 2:27:28 PM

The title I cannot quibble with but I maybe one should define what a gimmick means.
It would seem to me to be an action or communication which entices another to use/buy the proposed wares.
It would also seem to me that if the primary source of that is irresistible then one would not need to use gimmickry: patients would just gravitate towards the irresistible.
And of course we must be careful not to allow the pot to call the kettle black.
I have retired from GP after 48 years: The early years had an irresistible variable which no gimmickry could quash. Each practice rostered its own doctors for after hours duty for emergencies and the patients respected that after hours was for just such: They apologized even for even making an emergency call. Given such respect, rostered at one evening per week and one weekend in four, at times a month might go by without being called out: And when a call did occur one felt assured that one’s time was respected.
Today aged 75, I squirm at the notion of calling an afterhours GP of any kind. I have a wonderful GP and fortunately my limited contact with doctors has been like the management patients of my youth were accustomed to. But were he to unexpectedly retire I honestly feel that should a crisis arise I would feel safer just staying at home and hoping for the best. Yes, hearing my patients of the recent past complain about their 7 minute experts, and relating their after-hours visits scares me.
Maybe it is time to resume the time honoured system: with the computerised age, there should be no difficulty in one of 4-5 doctors a patient knows being available when they are truly in need. Such form of GP would not require any gimmickry.
Sadly, we the GPs too are becoming pots calling the kettle black. In our waiting rooms one reads slogans such as “I’m not just a GP. I’m your specialist in life”. Are we also making inappropriate offers? Can one honestly say that after seeing a patient for 7 even 20 minutes, even one aged less than a year that we know all about them? I would feel insulted if anyone told me that they are an expert on my 75 years of life: It would truly suggest that I had lived my life as a vegetable with no life experiences to recount.
Is it not time that we found a humbler logo: Indeed do we need one at all given the patient has entered our waiting room of their own free will, perhaps guided by the local grapevine.
If we operate by gimmickry, do we have the right to question others using the same strategy!

Dr Charlene Kembo   9/12/2017 6:51:08 PM

I strongly agree with you Chairman. When dealing with precious human lives using promotions can never be acceptable in any practice of medicine. In whatever circumstance. Thank you for raising this pertinent issue. We can only hope that something will be done about it.