Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists Bulletin Spring 2013 - (Page 2)

EDITORIAL DENTAL ETHICS i n the next few issues of the PCSO Bulletin, we will publish some articles that come from orthodontic residents at the University of California, San Francisco. These residents are required to submit manuscripts on ethical and behavioral considerations in clinical and research aspects of dentistry as part of their Master’s curriculum in Oral and Craniofacial Sciences. Extensive searches of the published literature and online resources were used to investigate the topics. These articles are offered to the PCSO community in order to increase awareness and stimulate discourse on important ethical issues in orthodontics. While some comments about legal ramifications are included, readers should not interpret these comments as legal advice; readers should consult their own attorneys for guidance. —Ed. Please note that the information in this article is a result of orthodontic resident research, and does not represent a position or legal advice by the PCSO Association or the PCSO Board of Directors. THE ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS OF SOCIAL COUPONS IN DENTAL AND ORTHODONTIC PRACTICE C ontracting with social coupon sites such as Groupon, LivingSocial and GoogleOffers has become exceedingly popular among dental professionals in the last few years. Alongside discounts to restaurants, spas, and travel hotspots, it is not uncommon to see daily deals for in-office teeth whitening, dental exams, cleanings and x-rays, clear aligners and other orthodontic treatment, and/or dental implant packages. As dental services are in high demand, especially cosmetic orthodontic therapies, offering them through social coupon sites can boost exposure for practices, attract new patients, and fill schedules.1 Social coupons may be a better return than any other advertising medium, as they require no upfront payment and reach millions of people around the world.1-3 Most deals are offered at discounts of 50% or more off regular prices, and after a deal expires, Groupon pays a 2 percentage of the revenue generated by the offer to the merchant.4 Groupon charges a percentage of the revenue generated by a featured deal as the “marketing fee” for advertising and promotion of the offer (about 40%).4,5 Social coupons may be a viable marketing tool for practitioners facing the difficult task of growing their practices and patient bases in the current economic climate. However, because practitioners utilizing sites like Groupon must split a portion of the revenue generated from the offer with the company, the service has been called “fee splitting,” which has federal and state legal implications.5,6 The purpose of this review is to explore the ethical and legal considerations involved in offering dental and orthodontic services for discounted prices through social coupon sites, and to make appropriate recommendations and suggestions to practitioners. Ethical Considerations A ccording to the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct, under Section 4, Principle of Justice/Fairness, subsection E, Rebates and Split Fees, Advisory Opinion 1, Split Fees in Advertising and Marketing Services, “a dentist who pays for advertising or marketing services by sharing a specified portion of the professional fees collected from prospective or actual patients with the vendor providing the advertising or marketing services is engaged in fee splitting. The prohibition against fee splitting is also applicable to the marketing of dental treatments or procedures via social coupons if the business arrangement between the dentist and the company providing the marketing services for that treatment or those procedures allows the issuing company to collect the fee from the prospective patient or retain a defined percentage or portion of the revenue collected as payment for the coupon marketing service provided to the dentist and remit to the dentist the remainder of the amount collected.”7 Further, under Section 5, Principle of Veracity/ Truthfulness, subsection F, Advertising, Advisory PCSO BULLETIN • SPRING 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists Bulletin Spring 2013

Dental Ethics
Save a Little and Invest a Lot
Plan for Ongoing Success
AAO Trustee's Report
PCSO Business
AAOF Report
Component Report
PCSO at a Glance
Dr. Terry McDonald Interviews Dr. Harry (Hap) Doughterty, Jr.
Case Report Pre-Treatment
Dr. John Ive
3-D Image-Aided Treatment of Impacted and Transposed Teeth
Controversies in Orthodontics
DIY Technology Upgrades on a DIY Budget
Accelerated Osteogenic Orthodontic (AOO) System -- Physiological Benefits and Increased Range of Movement
Case Report Post-Treatment
Pearls from Idaho: Holding 3-3 Retainers While Bonding

Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists Bulletin Spring 2013