Be Truthful: Breaking Down the GDC’s Advertising and Website Guidelines
As a dentist you aim to provide your patients with conscientious dental care and aim to build a culture of satisfied, happy patients. Though, as you may know the GDC also has a few rules about how you promote yourself as a dentist. Here are a few points that the General Dental Council strongly suggest that you remember while advertising your dental practice.
Show the World the Real You: Properly Representing Your Dental Practice
According to the GDC’s Guidance for Advertising, all dentists and dental practices should properly represent themselves.
For information published about the dental team, the GDC strongly recommends including their GDC registration number, their updated professional qualifications and where these qualifications were acquired. The council also reminds dental professionals to only use the term ‘specialist’ if they are included in the GDC specialist list. Use of the term ‘Specialist’ to describe non-specialist services is strictly prohibited. E.g ‘We are specialists in Dental Care in Manchester’ is not a statement you are allowed to make. Furthermore, the GDC strongly discourage affixing memberships to associations after their names in order to avoid mistaking these memberships as further qualifications.
Although dentists and their practices are not allowed to use “Orthodontists”, “Periodontist”, or other terms suggesting being a specialist unless they are listed in the GDC specialist list; they may use other terms to boost their reputation. Something like “experienced in…” and “with special interest in…” are a few of the phrases that the Council suggests for professionals and practices to use. Lastly, it is also important to mention whether your practice is private, or mixed (NHS).
Make It Clear: Presenting Your Dental Practice in Websites
When it comes to promoting your dental practice, the Internet is going to be an important medium. Drawing people in with great write-ups and pictures are all well and good but the GDC consistently reminds dentists and practices to always stick to facts and keep the visuals professional, decent, and ethical.
Websites and social media sites such as Facebook and Groupon are great means of reaching potential patients and offer a wide array of dental services. Publishing your practice’s updated geographic address and contact details and the date the site was updated is a great start. But, the GDC would like you to add contact details for enquiries and complaints along with their own address, contact details, and possibly a link to their website. This is so that patients and potential patients can gain a sense of security knowing that there will be people willing to help them in case something goes wrong. A clear complaints policy is important.
Stick to the Truth: Advertisements, Leaflets, and Other Publicity Materials
As a general rule of thumb regarding the GDC’s Guidance on Advertising, you should always remember to keep it evidence-based and factual. You are responsible for all the information that is found in any informative or advertising material in your dental practice. That is why the council urges practices to first review these materials before making it available to the public. Your practice preferring a certain product or method is fine, but you are obligated to give your patients factual and evidence-based information so that they can make their informed decisions.
The following checklist is a mix of compliance must-dos and ‘best practices’ policies:
✓ A date in the footer of your site stating clearly when the site was last updated. This must always be revised whenever you update your site. In our content management system sites, whenever we make an update – the footer date gets updated automatically, you can ask your dental web designer for this feature.
✓ Complaints procedure
✓ Data protection policy
✓ Health and safety charter
✓ Terms and conditions of site use
✓ GDC numbers for all applicable team members
✓ Qualifications and details of where dentists qualified
✓ Check all text for use of terms ‘best’ and ‘specialist’. You cannot claim superiority over any other dental practice by saying you are the best nor can you say you are a specialist unless you are on the specialist register.
✓ Formal consent to use patient photos on your website before and after gallery
If you need any of the policies above, email [email protected] and we will be happy to provide these to you. In return we ask for a review if you are happy with what we have provided. You do not need to be a Digimax Dental client to request these.
> Here is a link to the official advertising guidelines provided by the GDC