Australian Registration Boards Clarify Online Review Requirements

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Australian Registration Boards have clarified their social media and online review guidelines which will make it easier to avoid prosecution. Clear Health Media welcomes this development for chiropractors, osteopaths and physiotherapists.

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Practitioners often fall foul of AHPRA and these regulations. To protect yourself from prosecution by your registration board, take an audit of your website and social media pages and immediately remove any testimonials if they are present.

Chiropractors, osteopaths and physiotherapists in Australia will be glad to hear that their Registration Boards have clarified their social media and online review guidelines.

Online reviews are something that registration boards and the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency (AHPRA) in Australia have struggled with for some time. The law in Australia prohibits the use of testimonials, including self testimonials, in the advertising of regulated healthcare professions. A testimonial is a statement from an individual about the effectiveness of a particular practitioner's treatment or therapies. An online review, if it comments on clinical matters like "Dr Smith's treatment was very effective", would be considered a testimonial and therefore in breach of the law.

If the review did not comment on clinical matters, for example "Dr. Smith is a nice person", then it would be permissible.

Earlier in 2014, the Chiropractic Board of Australia issued guidelines that chiropractors were required to seek to have reviews about them on the internet removed, even if they did not control the site on which they were posted, for example Google reviews.

This was at odds with the advice issued by the Medical Board which did not require practitioners to seek to have the reviews removed as long as they did not control the site. As such the Chiropractic Board was criticised for issuing unrealistic requirements.

Recently however, the Chiropractic Board recently brought its requirements in line with the Medical Board in removing the requirement to remove reviews on third party sites.

Clear Health Media has provided an article on the online review and social media requirements on its website. The review highlights that practitioners still need to be mindful of testimonials that may be posted on their sites or social media pages.

For example if a patient was to comment on the timeline of a clinic's Facebook page to the effect of "thanks for the great treatment Dr Smith", then the clinic and Dr Smith would be in breach of the guidelines because they can control what is posted on that page. Other sites include Google+ pages and blog comments on their own websites.

Dr Holmes from Clear Health Media said, "Practitioners often fall foul of AHPRA and these regulations. To protect yourself from prosecution by your registration board, take an audit of your website and social media pages and immediately remove any testimonials if they are present."

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