Don’t get caught making the biggest private practice mistake of all: using misleading marketing that can land you in legal hot water.
One of the stickiest points in marketing for private practice is toeing the line in advertising. Private practice owners want to use marketing materials that are compelling and effective to bring in new patients, but they’ve got to be careful to stay within the safe legal boundaries of what can and can’t be said in an ad.
Here are 4 strategies that will keep you in the clear in terms of HIPAA compliance, marketing ethics, and business law.
- Support every claim with data. Be careful not to exaggerate the likelihood of treatment success. Stick to the facts in all of your marketing content, and don’t imply specific results—make your claim absolutely clear and straightforward.
- Don’t use real patient stories (even a fictionalized version) without a written release. Some private practice owners think that they’ve adequately disguised the identity of a patient by changing one or two details of the story, but that’s usually not enough. Ideally, get a release and use the patient’s real (first) name, which turns a story into a testimonial. If that can’t happen, then stick to using a fictionalized composite of a “typical patient” and make it clear that it’s a composite, not a real person.
- Don’t promise specific outcomes. Make it absolutely clear that there are no guarantees, and steer away from hot-button words like “cure.”
- Know your local laws. Private practice owners have to comply with business law in their local area in addition to professional ethics and other national considerations.
Of course, the best tactic is to employ a good attorney who can help you keep on the right side of the law in private practice advertising.
You don’t have to struggle through these tricky private practice issues alone. Check out our mentoring and coaching programs.