Perhaps the most interesting requirement for doctors using medical websites to advertise their services in Massachusetts is the obligation to retain “a complete, accurate, and reproducible version of the audio and visual contents” of the website for a period of three years. The most careful practitioners probably should retain copies of all versions of their website, through even the tiniest changes, though you need to talk with your legal counsel for an analysis of your particular situation and help complying with even the most onerous healthcare PR and marketing regulations.
Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine
243 MA ADC § 2.07(11)
2.07: General Provisions Governing The Practice Of Medicine
(11) Advertising and Professional Notices by a Full Licensee.
- (a) A full licensee may advertise for patients by means which are in the public interest. Advertising which is not in the public interest includes the following:
- Advertising which is false, deceptive, or misleading.
- Advertising which has the effect of intimidating or exerting undue pressure.
- Advertising which guarantees a cure.
- Advertising which makes claims of professional superiority which a licensee cannot substantiate.
- (b) A full licensee may advertise fixed prices, or a stated range of prices, for specified routine professional services, provided such advertisement clearly states whether additional charges may be incurred for related services which may be required in individual cases.
- (c) A full licensee may advertise in electronic media, including television and radio, provided that she maintain a complete, accurate, and reproducible version of the audio and visual contents of that advertising for a period of three years. The licensee must furnish the complete copy of this advertising to the Board upon request. The cost of maintaining and providing this advertising copy shall be borne by the licensee.
- (d) A full licensee shall include in an advertisement or professional notice her name, business address and degree (M.D. or D.O.).
- (e) A full licensee may not represent that he/she holds a degree from a medical school other than that degree which appears on his/her application for registration and has been verified in accordance with the Board’s requirements, or if an additional degree was obtained at a later date that it has been verified by the Board.
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:
- Engaging in false, misleading, or deceptive advertising.
- Engaging in advertising that intimidates or exerts undue pressure.
- Guaranteeing a cure.
- Making unsubstantiated claims of professional superiority.
- Advertising prices of routine professional services without clearly stating whether additional charges may be incurred for related services.
- Advertising using electronic media without maintaining a complete, accurate, and reproducible version of the audio and visual contents of the advertising for a period of three years.
- Failing to include your name, business address, and degree (M.D. or D.O.) in all advertisements.
- Representing that you hold a degree from a medical school other than the one listed on your application with the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine.
- Making scientific claims that cannot be substantiated.
- Using 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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