Code of Practice — Information for business
The Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA) is the peak business organisation representing suppliers of products and services to dental professionals. To ensure that dentists and allied oral dental professionals, regulators and the Australian community can have confidence in their dealings with the dental industry and its products in November 2014 the ADIA membership approved a new ADIA Code of Practice.
The purpose of the ADIA Code of Practice is to ensure that decisions made by dentists and allied oral dental professionals concerning healthcare needs are based on sound clinical evidence, not driven by incentives or other influences offered by the dental industry. If promotional activity encourages a healthcare professional to purchase a particular type or brand of product (that is used to diagnose or treat a patient) that promotional activity is inconsistent with the principles set out in the ADIA Code of Practice.
Understanding when the code applies —
The purpose of the Code is to ensure that decisions made by dental professionals concerning patient healthcare needs are based on sound clinical evidence, not driven by incentives or other influences offered by the dental industry. In this context provisions within the Code do not necessarily apply to promotional activities associated with all products; the reach of the Code is therefore limited.
To understand the extent to which the reach of the Code is limited, it is helpful to look at the Code in the context of certain types of dental products. For instance, so long as a dental chair is fit for purpose (something implied by compliance with the prevailing regulatory standards) it’s difficult to imagine a circumstance where the selection of one brand or type of dental chair over another would have an impact on a dental professional’s selection of treatment options for patients. The same approach is relevant to other equipment such as an autoclave: so long as the equipment is fit for purpose there is little limitation on the type of promotional activities given that the decisions associated with the brand or type of autoclave will influence a dental professional’s selection of treatment options for patients.
An excellent example of where the Code is highly relevant and applies is in the area of orthodontics. As there are several treatment options available to the dental professional (e.g. conventional braces and other orthodontic appliances known by trade names such as SureSmile, Invisalign, FaceBraces, et cetera), which are designed to achieve the same result but decisions need to be made regarding the suitability of one approach over another, or one brand over another, most aspects of the Code which limit promotional activities are likely to apply.
Cosmetic dentistry is another area where most limitations on promotional activity are likely to apply. The principle here is that as treatment is likely to be elective, any promotional activity that may been seen to induce a dental professional to encourage a patient to undertake a treatment that is not required from a healthcare viewpoint could be seen to be in violation of the Code.
An example where the application of the code becomes complex is on reward schemes offered by a business that sells all types of dental products. Using the aforementioned example of orthodontics, if a business provides an incentive of comparable value for a dental professional to purchase any of the products (without preference for one treatment pathway or brand) there is an argument that the incentive had no impact on the decision made by the healthcare practitioner.
Recognising that this Code changes the way that the dental industry interacts with dentists and allied oral dental professionals, the ADIA Board has endorsed a set of transitional provisions that covered the period 1 July 2015 through to 30 June 2017. The transitional provisions do not exempt members from provisions within the Code, rather recognising that a business operating with the best of intent may inadvertently breach the Code. The transitional provisions are designed to allow breaches of the Code to be identified and then assist businesses in the dental industry undertake appropriate corrective action going forward.
Transitional provisions and existing promotional activities —
A promotional activity that is in-place by 30 June 2015 (that is it has been advertised by that date) that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Code can be allowed to continue until 31 December 2015 without adverse consequence. This does not mean that a business may not be the subject of a complaint for this activity from 1 July 2015; however, no punitive action will be taken against the company during this period.
The ADIA Board has established a protocol that where a business has, in the first instance (and during the transitional period), breached a provision of the Code the business will be issued a breach notice and a corrective action notice. So long as the business corrects action within 120 days, no further action will be taken and to verify compliance the business will be required to report on what action has been taken to ensure the business complies going forward.
Once the corrective action notice has expired, if the business has taken no corrective action or the business commits a subsequent breach of the Code, no relief under the transitional provisions is available.
First and foremost, ADIA will work with member businesses to understand the Code and comply with its provisions. The transitional provisions are designed to provide a framework that treats complaints properly but also recognise that businesses trying to do the right thing may inadvertently undertake activities that are inconsistent with the Code.
At the heart of the Code is that the dental industry should not undertake promotional activities which may encourage a dental professional to do other than select patient treatment options wisely; choosing suitable treatment options only when it is considered necessary and use dental products safely and effectively.
Member Engagement —
ADIA provides leadership, strategy, advocacy and support. Our members set our agenda, fund our activities and directly benefit from the results. The ADIA Code of Practice was endorsed by members at an annual general meeting held in 2014 and members serving on the ADIA-CAC Code Administration Committee periodically review issues associated with its implementation.
Further Information —
To keep up to date on issues associated with the ADIA Code of Practice you can subscribe to the Twitter feed @AusDental or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dental.industry. Alternatively, you can contact the Association via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 1300 943 094.
This information is available for your use under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence, with the exception of the ADIA logo, other images and where otherwise stated.
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