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News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin August 2011
28 AUGUST 2011 BAn SOCiAL meDiA ReVieW WeBSiteS on healthcare professionals national dental update The Australian Dental Association Inc. (ADA) has recently warned its members about the significant risks involved in establishing their online presence through social media networks. This warning is equally applicable to members of the public and all registered health professionals. It has been of concern to the ADA that participation in such sites may cause: • publication of misleading information that may endanger the public; • publication of biased and/or uneducated reviews on the professional procedures provided by practitioners; and • health professionals being unwittingly placed in potential breach of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 (the Act), which deals with advertising regulations for healthcare practitioners. It has become apparent to the ADA that some social media review websites are providing the opportunity to publish online reviews for dental health by the public. While such sites may be a fruitful source of information to users in relation to restaurants and hotels, their value as an information source for identifying suitable healthcare providers in the ADA’s view is very limited and, in some cases, dangerous. While patients may be able to report upon the experience they encountered with practice staff, they are not, with all due respect to them, able to properly provide an evaluation of the practice’s services. For example, a member of the public does not have sufficient knowledge to report on a treatment plan provided by the health practitioner, the treatment provided or the degree of compliance with protocols in the practice setting. Any comments posted to a site on these matters have the potential to be grossly misleading and potentially put a patient at risk. A patient could, for example, read glowing reports of a practitioner’s ability to perform a procedure when in fact that practitioner may not necessarily have those skills. The comments may have been placed on the site in an effort to falsely promote the skills of the practitioner. The ability for anybody to anonymously comment on a practice or health professional means the reports can be open to significant bias. A disgruntled patient may leave a negative comment about a health practitioner. A satisfied patient may leave a glowing reference in an effort to assist the practitioner. Both sides of the spectrum demonstrate bias which may be misleading. Section 133 (1)(c) of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act (2009) makes it unlawful for a health professional to “advertise a regulated health service, or a business that provides a regulated health service, in a way that uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the person or business”. Placement of positive comments about a practitioner by a third party may unwittingly expose the practitioner to potential breach of Section 133 (1)(c) of the Act as it may appear to be advertising through the use of testimonials or purported testimonials. The ADA wishes to make it clear to all members of the public that these websites do not provide an accurate review mechanism on which to base judgement of a health practitioner. A member of the public does not truly know who has written the review, the reviewer’s relationship (if any) to the health practitioner or the purpose(s) under which they wrote the review. Patients should not be exposed to such unreliable advertising. It is important that members of the public and potential patients do not take notice of these websites due to the inaccurate nature of comments posted and the potential bias underlying some reviews. Without stringent censorship being imposed in respect of such sites, the ADA calls for governments to ban these sites because of their potential to provide false and misleading information. Source: National Dental Update, July 2011. The ADA National Dental Update is a monthly publication distributed to politicians and opinion leaders. Other issues can be viewed at www.ada.org.au 2011 Australian Dental Congress Secretariat Australian Dental Association Inc. Incorporated in the ACT ARBN 131 755 989 14-16 Chandos Street St Leonards NSW 2065 PO Box 520 St Leonards NSW 1590 Telephone: (61 2) 9906 4412 Facsimile: (61 2) 9906 4676 Email: email@example.com Website: www.adc2011.com Twitter: www.twitter.com/34thADC2011 NOW AND TOmORROW BACk To ThE FuTurE: Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Australia Wednesday 30th March to Sunday 3rd April 2011 ADC2011-Letterhead-FINAL.indd 1 3/02/10 9:14 PM
ADA News Bulletin July 2011
ADA News Bulletin September 2011