The Medical Council believes that clear and accurate information about the services provided by doctors benefits all parties in the healthcare system. Advertising has a role to play in keeping patients informed, but it also has the potential to mislead.
Misleading advertising coupled with alack of consumer knowledge can lead to patients being exploited, medical services being used inappropriately or unnecessarily, and patient harm. Advertising that is both truthful and not misleading is not fundamentally unethical. The content’s presentationand framing can cross the ethical border when it manufactures physicians’ or organizational credentials that will not withstand cursory or close scrutiny. Like political advertisements,medical ads infer that the marketer’s care is superior to other institutions in the area. Ads include unexaminable terms such as centers of excellence, latest possible break through care, leading medical care, and that their experts re real “fighters”.
While not untrue, such claims can create expectations not in accord with clinical reality and are to this extent misleading. Straightforward, unadorned language does not risk creating such expectations.Patient testimonials are inherently misleading; they present the successes and never the failures, which promotes the idea that outstanding results are always expected. Even worse are ads using attractive, active, ecstatic actors who pretend to be patients. These forms of advertising do not pass muster from the perspective of professional integrity and should be vigorously opposed by surgeons.Thus, advertising is a lure to use a particular product or, in this case, a particular institution.
When the commitmentto professional integrity is not shared by the hospital’sadministration, especially the marketing department, Patients often choose their physician on a nonprofessionalperson’s advice or on the basis of their insurance coverage.4Educational credentials and prestige of affiliated institutionsrated low on the criteria for choice of physician. Friendlinessof staff was important to 86.9% of patients. Thus, patientshave inconsequential reasons for choosing and being satisfiedwith their medical care.
It seems likely they would be vulnerableto advertising’s persuasion. One cannot watch televisionwithout being bombarded with ads for expensive medicationsor cancer institutions. If an educated, intelligent, hardworking demographic is your target market, it may pay for you to advertise to the medical profession. Of course, whether it succeeds for you depends heavily on your product and selling strategy. You may also find that the medical field encompasses a broad variety of clinicians ranging widely in income levels and perspectives. While many clinicians including doctors and pharmacists are very highly paid, medicine has its lower-income staff, such as licensed practical nurses and phlebotomists. Your advertising success will depend largely on your goals and strategy.
Education: Physicians, pharmacists, psychologists, social workers, allied health professionals and most nurses are well-educated people. Physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, doctors, and pharmacists all hold graduate degrees. While nurses are not required to have more than a two year degree, today’s trend in nursing is toward the Bachelor of Nursing and of course some nurses earn master’s degrees as well.While these professions do not make up the total of health care workers, they have the education and evaluative skills to understand complex information and to make thoughtful decisions. If your sales strategy is suited toward an educated and intelligent group, medical professionals may be a good choice. By the same stroke, these are people capable of asking good critical questions and seeing through a poor sales job.Expendable Income: Educated professionals make professional wages.
Physicians and pharmacists usually make six figures while rehabilitation therapists and hospital nurses can make anywhere from $70,000 to $120,000 per year. People who make decent livings usually have more money to spend which can make health care professionals a desirable customer base. However, health care workers and assistants who are credentialed by certificates rather than professional degrees, such as X-ray technicians, surgical technicians, medical assistants and physical therapy assistants, do not command the same wages.Saturation: Most health care professionals are in high demand.
As a result, they are heavily recruited and usually receive high volumes of direct mail advertisements from recruiters and health care employers. Many have their names taken off mailing lists, unsubscribe from industry publications and guard their personal information carefully. This can make them harder to reach and sometimes more resistant to sales pitches.Publications: You will find no shortage of health care industry publications from print magazines and journals to electronic newsletters. Most publications target particular disciplines of health care workers, such as nursing association publications or magazines for physical therapists.
Depending on your marketing strategy, this can be help or hindrance. If your goal is to reach some types of medical professionals very effectively, some of the better discipline specific publications can do that for you. However, if you want to reach the entire industry with one ad or campaign, you will find yourself very frustrated.Perspectives: When choosing whether target health care professionals, consider some of the attitudes and outlooks that are typical to the industry. For example, health care professionals as a group are in theory more hostile to tobacco products and more supportive of diet and exercise related products. You are likely to find physicians and nurses wary of alternative herbal products, but perhaps interested in healthy foods.
They are people who see the results of people’s poor lifestyle choices and often adopt attitudes, which stem from their work and educations.