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How to market a medical aesthetics practice Ulundi Behrtel 14 September 2015 The complex legal issues pertaining to the ethical marketing of a medical aesthetics practice were discussed by qualified attorney and healthcare consultant, Ulundi Behrtel, at the recent Medical Aesthetics Convention held at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand. “I’m often asked by medical aesthetics practices whether they can advertise and my answer is – yes, but it depends on how you do it and on which platform,” said Behrtel. “Before you decide to advertise, you have to take South Africa’s legislative framework into account – our jurisprudence is based on the rule of law. It’s necessary for medical aesthetics practices to understand the appropriate legislation, such as the Bill of Rights, for instance, which pertains to the provision of services. “In addition you need to take note of national legislation and what I term ‘other documents and instructions’. These would be industry codes of ethics and documents formulated by industry organisations. You also need to know the Health Professions Act in terms of ethical rules and scope of practice.” Behrtel noted that some cases of unethical advertising have been reported to the HPCSA (Health Professions Council of South Africa). She went on to say that the Health Act is very important to medical aesthetics practitioners as they need ‘Informed Consent’ from clients and that it is criminal negligence not to have it. “As practitioners I urge you to take note of the Children’s Act as you must be aware of the age of consent, for both invasive and non-invasive treatments,” continued Behrtel. “Other relevant legislation is the Medicines & Related Substances Act, which pertains to scheduled substances like botulinum toxin and medical aesthetics devices such lasers, for instance. “I also believe that medical aesthetics practitioners should be familiar with the Consumer Protection Act and the Protection of Personal Information Act.” Behrtel is of the opinion that medical aesthetics practices should be wary of advertising on discounting platforms as this can raise ethical issues. “The HPCSA has published 28 Ethical Rules that deal with various aspects of professional practice. Rule 3 deals with advertising,” she said. As per Rule 3: (1) A practitioner shall be allowed to advertise his or her services or permit, sanction or acquiesce to such advertisement: provided that the advertisement is not unprofessional, untruthful, deceptive or misleading or causes consumers unwarranted anxiety that they may be suffering from any health condition. (2) A practitioner shall not canvass or tout or allow canvassing or touting to be done for patients on his or her behalf. Behrtel concluded her presentation by emphasising that doctors and medical aesthetics practitioners must be ‘trained and competent’ in order to practice. (Report by Joanna Sterkowicz
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