A new way of advertising for new patients has emerged recently that involves offering group discounts through a website, usually offering a “deal of the day” (for example, “Groupon”). The savings are group focused: if enough people sign up for the offer, everyone gets the deal.
If there aren’t enough people, no one gets it. For example, a coffee company might offer a deal of “$10 for $20 worth of coffee,” provided that 500 people sign up. The web company collects the payment and passes it on, minus their fee, to the business.
CDSBC has been asked whether it is acceptable for a dentist to use this approach to gain new patients. The simple answer is no. The way the system works is that the company operating the website takes up to 50 per cent of any money that is paid. This effectively means the dentist is paying the company a commission for the referral. Any scheme that includes paying a third party a fee for the referral is explicitly contrary to the Code of Ethics, and therefore not permitted.
© The College of Dental Surgeons, 2013