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Texas Board Examines Dental Advertising on Groupon and other “Deal-A-Day” Sites

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

email dollar signs The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners is considering how the concept of online healthcare deals and discounts may or may not fit into its advertising and marketing rules for professional practice advertising. There was a small but important news item that touched on this. It's worth reading…and watching where it may lead. In the weeks ahead it could become something to help keep your healthcare advertising safely within regulatory boundaries.

The regulatory group has the various online “daily deal” sites—LivingSocial, Groupon, etc.—in their spotlight. Dentists in Texas (and possibly other states), as well as other elective care providers, will want to see if new rules emerge.

There’s a mention of this in a recent article in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Referring to online daily deals, the article somewhat incidentally reports, “State regulators are already looking into this new area of marketing. The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners has a committee reviewing how this emerging technology fits into its advertising and marketing rules, said Joy Sparks, general counsel for the state regulator.

"‘They've met two or three times and are meeting again this month," she said. "We hope to have a complete ruling on this by April.’ Currently, healthcare professionals in Texas are allowed to advertise and offer discounts as long as guidelines for disclosure and clarity are met, she said.”

Healthcare and dental marketing professionals will find the bulk of the news article to be a general overview of “collective buying sites” including one aggregator site from the Star-Telegram itself. For the most part, there’s not too much new in the report, saying…consumers are pinched and looking for bargains and value… healthcare deals are among the options… some doctors and dentists are testing the waters with elective care offers… and some of these work better than others for both the practitioner and for the consumer.

As “medical costs continue to take more from our pocketbooks,” reports the Star-Telegram both healthcare providers and consumers are connecting online. “The types of medical services offered as daily deals are expanding nationwide.

“Among recent deals are orthodontic braces, cosmetic procedures like Botox, chiropractic care, eye exams, even medical checkups. The Associated Press reported last week that a New York doctor's office offered a full medical checkup with blood, stool and urinalysis testing for $69 last month, a procedure that normally costs $200.”

We’re not offering legal advice here, but it makes sense for healthcare marketing professionals, doctor advertising and professional services providers to remain well informed. Dental practices in particular will want to track any ruling that comes forward—perhaps in April—from the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners.

As further background and reference reading, our previous post, Digital Deal-A-Day Coupons Hold Cautions for Healthcare Marketing is here. We'll keep our forward-looking radar running.

Lonnie Hirsch


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