Website Compliance – Why You Don’t Need To Pay Through The Nose

Website Compliance – Why You Don’t Need To Pay Through The Nose

Avoid big monthly fees for simple dental website compliance checks

When marketing companies hook dentists into paying monthly fees for services they don’t really need, it’s somewhat questionable in my opinion. One such example is where dental web companies make a big deal over website compliance issues and then sell monthly checks as part of an expensive compliance package.

The truth is that ensuring this type of compliance is really quite straightforward and you don’t need to pay big fees to have it checked monthly for you. Neither do you need a little symbol on your website to say that you comply.

What’s happening here is that those marketing companies have tried to differentiate themselves as a compliance ‘experts’ by creating the illusion that achieving such compliance is difficult and needs constant attention and maintenance. The reality is that whilst compliance is clearly very important, achieving and maintaining it is not – and you certainly don’t need self-styled experts to do it for you.

Practice website compliance – the reality

The level of compliance you need depends on the type of website you operate and any good web designer should ensure the correct level of compliance in the initial development of the site. For example, ecommerce websites have some fairly onerous compliance requirements around taking payments online; whereas the compliance issues for a simple business site are less strict.

Dental websites fall somewhere between these levels; they need to comply with the same standards as other business websites but also have some additional requirements coming from compliance bodies such as the GDC. However, those standards are straightforward and easy enough to implement and maintain.

Compliance issues to know about

Let’s take a look at the main compliance issues you need to understand and ensure are implemented on your dental practice website. Please note that any experienced designer working in the dental website business will be fully conversant with these and so I will not give all the detail here – the intention is to make sure you are aware of them and also realise that you don’t need to pay for a monthly service to maintain them.

  • GDC regulations – supplementary to the Standards For The Dental Team, there is a guidance document about advertising, including a small section on website requirements. For example, you need to display specific information for team members, links to the GDC website etc. These elements are easy to implement and periodically audit.
  • Business identity – this needs to clearly state who you are and where you are based and would typically be shown on your ‘contact’ page and potentially also in the website footer. As an aside, how you format this is also important for search engine optimisation, but again, an experienced designer will be fully conversant with this.
  • GDPR compliance – this came into force in the UK in May 2018 and covers the rights of individuals to know how you use their information. Controls cover aspects such as contact forms, cookie consent etc.
  • Policies and procedures – you will be fully aware of the types of policies you need at the practice and it makes sense to include the most important ones on your website for user reference. Typically you will need as a minimum a privacy policy (which can also include information regarding cookies where relevant) and a complaints procedure.
  • Cyber security and protection of data – The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published a set of processes around security in relation to GDPR – these essentially say that you are responsible for preventing hacking and other forms of cybercrime. In practical terms, this includes publishing your website under SSL, updating software regularly and responding promptly to any website security vulnerabilities. This may sound tricky to a lay person but it’s standard practice for any bona fide web professional and there is no need to pay excessive fees to achieve it.
  • Accessibility – this is rarely talked about by dental website designers but it is actually a legal requirement to ensure your website meets a minimum level of accessibility for users who have disabilities. If not, you could be in breach of the Equality Act of 2010.

Whilst the above might look like a big scary list, for an experienced designer it is second nature and something they will build in with any new website. They should also ask you to ensure that any content you send to be added to the website complies with the various regulations, for example ensuring that team member details include the necessary information as required by the GDC.

The key thing to remember is that once these elements are in place, they rarely change. So if you’ve done it right with your initial website development, you will be compliant up until the point where something changes – and those changes are typically very infrequent. For example, the GDC guidance on the information needed for a dental website hasn’t changed for a number of years.

Where external regulations change, as they did for GDPR in 2018 for example, a good web company will contact their clients to explain what changed and what needs to be done to ensure compliance. Indeed this was a programme we went through for all clients here at Dental Media to ensure compliance in advance. However it’s not something we feel is necessary to charge a monthly fee for simply because requirements only change very infrequently. It’s up to you if you want to subscribe to such services, but in reality it’s a hugely expensive way of achieving something which is quite straightforward.

Summary

Website compliance is quite straightforward and any diligent designer should know what is required; indeed it should be second nature. There are a few additional requirements for dental websites but these are not onerous and easy enough to understand and maintain. In my opinion you do not need to pay for a third-party service which blows these types of compliance issues out of proportion to secure big monthly fees for their “compliance assurance service”.

Ultimately that choice is yours but hopefully what I’ve illustrated above should help you to make an informed decision before you potentially waste a chunk of cash.

If you have any concerns regarding compliance issues on your practice website, please give the web team at Dental Media a call on 01332 672548 for friendly, informed guidance.