In a study published today, the Council of State recommends removing the general ban on advertising for health professionals, in place for more than 70 years.
In his study Rules for health professionals regarding information and advertising, the Council of State proposes to "remove the general prohibition of direct or indirect advertising and to establish a principle of free communication of information by practitioners to the public, subject to compliance with the rules governing their professional practice."
Evolution of the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union
The working group, chaired by Yves Doutriaux, wishes to grant this right of communication to health professions with a professional order: doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives, chiropodists, masseurs-physiotherapists, pharmacists (who will still not be able to advertise drugs).
The authority justifies its decision by stating that regulations prohibiting direct or indirect advertising to the health professions are likely to be affected by developments in the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union; the strict framework of information that practitioners can now make public no longer seems to fully meet the legitimate expectations of the public; the rapid growth of the digital economy has made some of the current information restrictions obsolete.
Communicate with "tact and measurement"
"People go on Google to learn while being wary of results," Yves Doutriaux analysis. "And according to a recent study, 35% of people under 35, and 26% of all those likely to 'to be treated would give up the care, for lack of knowing to whom to address or how to move'.
The ban on advertising has been imposed on doctors and some health professionals for more than 70 years. Here, communication is allowed, provided that it is not advertising. It will be forbidden for a health professional to practice his profession "as a business". He will have to communicate with "tact and measure", being "loyal" and "honest".
Extend your experience and publish your rates
Posters, TV spots or Internet paid listings are therefore prohibited. It is also prohibited to include third party notices on its own website. On the other hand, it will be possible for a physiotherapist to praise his experience and to detail his professional practices on a website or in paper brochures.
The Council of State goes even further, proposing to make mandatory the dissemination of tariffs from the first appointment, by phone or online. Liberal professionals from other European countries would also be forced to communicate to patients the list of acts they have been authorized to perform before.
To be effective, the general prohibition of direct or indirect advertising of health professionals must still be removed from the Public Health Code.