Restraint of Trade Alert – Dex Yellow Pages

I received this email from an NP business “neighbor”. I currently have ads in the same book (though different county). We’ve not heard anything about this, however, our books come out in April. This step will have significant consequences for all of us.

(Published with permission)

I recently got a call from Dex Qwest yellow pages advertising department and they informed me that as of this fall, they are taking all non-physicians out of the Physicians and Surgeons section of the yellow pages.

We will be allowed simple line listings under this heading but no more boxed ads. Evidently there was a complaint from a physician’s office about NP’s being able to advertise along with physicians.

They said we could have our big ads under the Nurses-Practitioners section. I think this is restraint of trade. I know I get a lot of new clients from the yellow pages (under the physician heading). I would like to register a formal complaint against this policy of DEX. I think they either need to allow NP’s and midwives to advertise under the physician section or they need to change the heading to include NP’s and midwives.

The public uses the term doctor loosely, I know that when someone is looking to find a new provider in the yellow pages they are going to look under the physicians heading. Not many people would think to look under the Nurses-Practitioners section to find a provider.

Historically, we NPs have been lumped under physicians for many categories, including insurance carriers, so for them to banish us from this section is clearly a restraint of equal access to the public for advertising.

I am wondering if any national NP organizations might want to take this on as well. I would love your feedback and any ideas about how to proceed to combat this ridiculous policy.

Julie Dybbro, ARNP
200 Lilly Road NE, Suite B
Olympia, WA 98506

Comments 4

  1. Hi Julie,

    I recently had to get a Verizon phone line for my new office. They are the only agency for the building space I am leasing, as I did explore broadband, and comcast, for dsl too. But being that it was a new phone line and new fax, Verizon told me, I get an automatic “free one line advertising of the clinic name in the “yellow pages of the phone book. They wanted to know where I wanted to advertise. I did not go under “physicians” because I remembered that NP in Advance for NP journal who got sued by the AMA for false advertising (she later won) but I think it took a lot of energy and two years. She just advertised that she provided “superior healthcare”…(she was not even in the physician section). I do not agree, but felt that this might be touchy, and actually had this phone conversation with the Verizon technician that there needed to be a “provider section”, or some section that patients automatically go to. I also was not sure that you could call yourself a clinic, unless affiliated with a hospital. I think that is wrong, but someone said that.. so I opted to go under “nurses” where I noted other NPs advertised.

    However, I agree, I as a patient am not going to look under nurses for a healthcare clinic. I really would have preferred to go under physicians, (listed as a Nurse Practitioner) but want it clear that I am NOT a physician or trying to hold myself out as one, just that is where most people are conditioned to look for providers. There should be just a category called healthcare offices or providers…and we could all go under that. But I was not that concerned with my personal situation because in Wilsonville, Oregon, the phone books are so confusing the way the regions are divided, and there are about 4 books, that most people look in the Chamber of commerce directory, and the local newspaper. So that is where I am going to do my “written” advertising.

    I think it is a great point though, that we need to be able to advertise where the public looks and is conditioned to look… Again, maybe the yellow pages could change the entire heading from “Physicians” to “Health Care Providers”, and then sub divide under specialties. This could include physicians, NPs and other practitioners/clinicians. I think with commercials, the web, and other advertising, consumers would soon get the idea. As soon as they saw there was no longer a “physician” heading, they would look under healthcare, or medical offices or clinics. (At least that is what I would do) I would welcome other comments. What about health care providers or healthcare practitioners? Physicians can go by other titles too, just as we do…This “title” thing is part of branding, as they call it in the advertising/marketing world, and it is an important topic. It has been on the list serves too….I am not an attorney, but I think Carolyn Buppert might be interested in Restraint of Trade issues with restricting of advertising, leading to loss of business,…I dont think we can be under physician categories, in my opinion, it is again an issue with changing the headings to include other clinicians. This is critical. Good point to bring up! I also welcome other comments? Carla

  2. I put my box ad under “clinics”. I put a highlighted entry under Nurses. I put highlighted entries in the white pages for my business name and Nurse Laura. I did a regular white pages listing with my own name (no one knows me by my last name). That has worked for me. I am not interested in being in the physicians section.

    Word of mouth has been my biggest ally. I also run ads in a couple of menus (bowling alley and truck stop) and my local newspaper.

    Those seem to do the best for me.


  3. Post

    Thanks for commenting Graham. Admittedly this is an older post.

    That said, many communities still use the “yellow pages”, though the trend is definitely diminishing. However, the basic concerns and confusion still remain.

    It’s not uncommon for NPs and PAs to be thought of as “doctors” despite our corrections with our patients. I know it’s happened to me more times than I can count…and the response is often something like “I know you are not a doctor, but you are MY doctor”.

    We still have a lot of work to do 🙂

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