Ban on direct-to-consumer advertising by after-hours providers welcomed by RACGP

Paul Hayes

7/02/2018 11:58:31 AM

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel told newsGP he is pleased with the news after-hours primary care services would no longer be allowed to employ direct-to-consumer advertising.

The RACGP supports of the role of after-hours services when providing deputised care in the after-hours period, but believes the standards of daytime general practice should be applied.
The RACGP supports of the role of after-hours services when providing deputised care in the after-hours period, but believes the standards of daytime general practice should be applied.

‘Marketing promotions used to promote urgent after-hours primary care services over regular general practice care are inappropriate and unacceptable,’ Dr Seidel said. ‘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.
‘Banning direct-to-consumer advertising in this sector is a common sense decision that has been made in the best interest of Australian patients.’
As part of its revision of the guidelines for the Approved Medical Deputising Service Program, the Department of Health has informed medical deputising services they cannot send patients marketing text messages and emails; engage in advertising through third-party websites and social media; distribute fliers and promotional letters; and create newspaper, magazine and television promotions or outdoor advertising.
The world of after-hours primary care advertising has long been a murky one. Promotions such as Dial a Home Doctor offering patients 10,000 tickets to Dreamworld on the Gold Coast late last year have been called examples of offers that could create inappropriate or artificial demand for after-hours services.
The RACGP has long advocated for changes to the marketing of after-hours primary care services. Dr Seidel said the RACGP is supportive of the role of after-hours services when providing deputised care to patients in the after-hours period. It believes the standards of daytime general practice should be applied to the after-hours period to ensure patients have access to high-quality care.
‘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,’ he said. ‘Better enforcement of advertising restrictions will assist in preventing this from occurring.’

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Mai Maddisson   9/02/2018 11:07:07 AM

Oh! Oh! Are the rest of the GPs willing to follow suit and remove all those at times deceptive, gimmicky and other posters from their waiting rooms!
It sounds like we are generating a setting of the pot calling the kettle black.
I feel that Dr. Seidel is conceptually correct but he needs to take a universal stance.

Jan Sheringham   9/02/2018 2:13:15 PM

Mai, if a GP has signs for the deputising Service used by that practice after hours it is hardly “gimmicky”, but is useful information for patients of that practice, and is in fact required by accreditation standards! I support the RACGP stance on this as espoused by our President.

Mai Maddisson   11/03/2018 2:48:46 PM

Jan, I not alluding to the deputising services notices. While I doubt the wisdom of that system, as I for one would not be letting a total stranger into my house in the middle of the night. We all know that impersonation while illegal, is cold consolation after what ever deed is done.
I am alluding to the totally indefensible notices about a GP being an expert in a patient's life. No one can possibly know all the circumstances of another's life. The longer we lived the more tortuous our lives, be they wrought by nature or man made circumstances. And there are times where people don't want to share that 'truth'.
For a young doctor say 5-10 years post graduation to be saying such to a 60 year old is to say to that person that they have not lived: That they are but an empty shell.
At seventy five I find seeing such a sign offensive. It would ignite instant distrust in a doctor for their naivety, and I would walk away, no matter how prevailing the need to stay.
The latter notices are worse than gimmicky: They are deceptive.

Steve Anson   21/03/2018 4:44:03 PM

This advertising restriction for after hours GPs is not in the best interest of consumers.

It's like the taxi industry complaining about Uber, i.e. a new and disruptive model for the delivery of services.

If consumers want GPs to come to them even during regular office hours, then what's the problem?

If in-office GPs feel threatened by this emerging model, perhaps they should join them?

Let's be honest, the culture of service at many GP practices is poor. Patients are often made to wait even