At least until the end of 2008, it was illegal for Illinois licensees to use testimonials when marketing medical services. Other healthcare PR and marketing restrictions in the state include a detailed list of permissible subjects to be included in advertising (see § 26(1) below). Of course, health professionals must seek legal counsel to provide review and guidance on all relevant medical marketing laws.
Illinois Division of Professional Regulation
225 ILCS 60/26, 68 IL ADC § 1285.245
Sec. 26. Advertising.
(1) Any person licensed under this Act may advertise the availability of professional services in the public media or on the premises where such professional services are rendered. Such advertising shall be limited to the following information:
- (a) Publication of the person’s name, title, office hours, address and telephone number;
- (b) Information pertaining to the person’s areas of specialization, including appropriate board certification or limitation of professional practice;
- (c) Information on usual and customary fees for routine professional services offered, which information shall include, notification that fees may be adjusted due to complications or unforeseen circumstances;
- (d) Announcement of the opening of, change of, absence from, or return to business;
- (e) Announcement of additions to or deletions from professional licensed staff;
- (f) The issuance of business or appointment cards.
(2) It is unlawful for any person licensed under this Act to use testimonials or claims of superior quality of care to entice the public. It shall be unlawful to advertise fee comparisons of available services with those of other persons licensed under this Act.
(3) This Act does not authorize the advertising of professional services which the offeror of such services is not licensed to render. Nor shall the advertiser use statements which contain false, fraudulent, deceptive or misleading material or guarantees of success, statements which play upon the vanity or fears of the public, or statements which promote or produce unfair competition.
(4) A licensee shall include in every advertisement for services regulated under this Act his or her title as it appears on the license or the initials authorized under this Act.
NOTE: Section scheduled to be repealed on December 31, 2010
a) Advertising shall contain all information necessary to make the communication informative and not misleading. Advertising shall identify the type of license held by the licensee whose services are being promoted. The form of advertising shall be designed to communicate the information contained in the advertisement to the public in a direct, dignified and readily comprehensible manner.
b) If an advertisement is communicated to the public over television or radio, it shall be prerecorded and approved for broadcast by the physician, and a recording of the actual transmission, including videotape, shall be retained for at least 3 years by the physician.
c) Advertising shall otherwise comply with Section 26 of the Act.
Sample Best Practices
We’ve developed some sample best practices to help you get started discussing your medical marketing with your legal counsel in more detail. Find out if you need to take steps to avoid the following:
- Using false, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading statements.
- Guaranteeing success of a procedure or course of treatment.
- Making statements that exploit the vanity or fears of the general public.
- Making statements that promote or produce unfair competition.
- Using testimonials or claims of superior quality of care.
- Comparing your fees to those of other doctors.
- Failing to include your title as it appears on your medical license and the type of license you hold somewhere in the advertisement.
- Making scientific claims that cannot be substantiated.
- Claiming professional superiority without supporting the claim with objective evidence, or use hyperbole when describing your techniques or results.
- Showing patient before and after photos without indicating that results vary and the results shown are not a guarantee.
- Showing models without clearly indicating that the photos are not of actual patients.
- Saying you are board-certified without including in any advertising the name of the board that has certified you.
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