By Sarah Bartholomeusz
When you are dealing with patients and dental emergencies alongside the challenges of running the administrative side of a busy practice, these documents can seem trivial, but they are essential when it comes to protecting your practice.
Website Terms and Conditions – what and why?
Terms and Conditions are essentially a legal contract between yourself and your patients, and anyone else using your website. They provide a governance framework outlining what must be complied with in order to access and utilise the website, and they are essential in providing you with protection from any potential claims by website users. Terms and Conditions also provide a platform to address commonly asked questions, and to clarify specific items that may, or may not be, clear through the practice’s other methods of advertising.
Three Areas to Cover
Dental Practices can have three distinct areas that Terms and Conditions need to cover, depending on how the Practice’s website operates:
- Use of the website, together with terms and conditions that affect the services that the practice provides;
- Membership terms and conditions (if applicable); and
- The sale of items and products through the website.
Naturally these three areas are different, and all three may not apply to your Practice. No two Dental Practices are the same, which is why a Terms and Conditions specifically tailored to your practice are essential.
Generally speaking, some of the standard provisions of website Terms and Conditions include;
- Descriptions of the functionality of the Practice’s website;
- An outline of services and products that are offered;
- Terms relating to payment;
- Disclaimers relating to limitations of liability;
- Restrictions relating to user conduct, such as age;
- Dispute resolutions processes; and
- Confidentiality and details of ownership of intellectual property.
You also may find that you have entered into contractual relationships that require you to have Website Terms and Conditions. If, for example, your Practice is running Facebook ads, or if you are a HotDoc client, you definitely need to have the I’s crossed and the T’s dotted.
Mandatory vs Nice to Have
Terms and Conditions in some cases might be considered a ‘nice to have’ but if your Practice has third party relationships (or is planning to have them soon), offers products for sale directly through the site, offers payment terms or takes booking and pre-payments online, then your Website Terms and Conditions are equally as important.