11 October 2011
Q. I would like to use a discount offer to attract new patients to my practice for non-surgical cosmetic treatment. There is competition from the local hair salon and also a spa and I feel I need to incentivise new patients. Can you see any problems with such an approach?
The difficulty you face is that your competitors are not regulated by the General Dental Council. The incorporation of financial incentives in any advertisement would not necessarily be a concern to the Advertising Standards Authority; however the GDC would be concerned that patients might be coerced into having a therapeutic treatment on the basis of affordability rather than clinical need.
Probably the best way to persuade customers to purchase something that may not really be necessary but which they might find attractive is to make the product or service commercially attractive.
The use of a financial incentive to undertake treatment would not be a great comfort to the GDC if they ever received a complaint about a registrant. It might be better to display a standard price list and having consulted and agreed what treatment is to be provided, then advise your patients of the particular offers available at that time.
Whilst this may not seem aggressively competitive in terms of attracting sales, but whatever you decide to advertise and the way in which it is done, you would be doing this whilst you are also a registered dentist whether the services have got anything to do with dentistry or not. At the end of the day you take a risk as a registrant by placing financial incentives ahead of therapeutic needs when offering treatment to your patients.