What is LegitScript?
LegitScript is a for profit, privately managed vetting, verification, and monitoring service for healthcare merchants and drug/alcohol addiction treatment providers in the United States for use of search engine and social media advertising platforms such as Google Ads, Bing Ads, and Facebook Ads. In fact, it’s the only service recognized by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), Google, and Facebook.
You cannot advertise on Google/Bing and/or Facebook Ads without the Addiction Treatment Certification from LegitScript if you:
- own a website/ web application about drug or alcohol addiction treatment
- provide information on a website /web application about drug or alcohol addiction treatment
- facilitate in-person or online drug or alcohol addiction treatment (other than at a private residence or non-clinical setting, i.e. 12 step meetings)
LegitScript outlines standards that dig deeply into business ethics, procedures, licensure, and potential on-site inspection, which can feel a bit daunting. It begs the question – Why did you even get state certified in the first place?
Kick backs, monetary incentives to relapse and outright body brokering – that’s why. You might be surprised to know that many addiction treatment centers aren’t certified by any governing body, at all.
What’s the Deal?
The change for rampant false advertising came to a head when The Verge published this article in Sept. 2017. Google/Facebook was on the hook for allowing unethical marketers who posed as a treatment provider or non-profit helplines but they were just call-centers who are trained to exploit and lure addicts into treatment.
Accepting responsibility for the poor oversight, Google pulled the plug on over +70,000 drug and alcohol rehab related keywords from its advertising platform. The entire treatment industry felt the impact from this move by Google, but treatment practices that depended on these unethical marketers felt the most pain from this sting and many were forced to close.
What Are the Benefits of LegitScript?
Compliance with Google and Facebook Ad policies is the major benefit of LegitScript. LegitScript certification allows Google and Facebook to easily recognize the legitimacy of your organization via third-party verification. As long as your organization is in compliance with the Google Ads and Facebook advertising policies, along with LegitScript, advertisements should run as scheduled.
LegitScript suggests other benefits such as “Stand out from the Crowd” and “Work with a Trusted Partner”, and while those two claims may be true in the future, currently there are no other agencies certifying addiction treatment centers with which to compare these claims.
Who Addiction Treatment Certification Applies To:
According to LegitScript, these are the qualifying factors, and they seem to have their basis covered.
- In-Person Addiction Treatment: This includes online drug or alcohol treatment, and anyone providing any information about in-person drug or alcohol treatment.
- Mutual Support Groups: if you are online and “facilitating interactions between non-professional members engaged in recovery” (reddit?)
- Crisis Hotlines: this includes over the phone, chat boxes, website that “purports to provide remote assistance or information to individuals who are in recovery or seeking … treatment”
Who Does Not Qualify for LegitScript:
- Recovery Residences: Sober living homes, sober living environments, halfway houses, or a continuing aftercare program that does not provide clinical care
- Lead Generators: Referring to third party addiction treatment provider
At this point, if you still want to spend money with Google & Bing and/or Facebook advertising, the next step is to consider the costs and move forward with the application.
How Much Does LegitScript Cost?
Ok, so you’re one of the facilities that fit the LegitScript criteria, hold your breath, here comes pricing.
- This is PER facility: that means if you have an intensive outpatient/ outpatient office at one address, and two residential in-patient houses, that qualifies for three separate facilities
- Application fee: $995 x 3 = $2985 non refundable application fee
- Annual fee: $1,995 x 3 = $5,985
- Price Reduction: Although the price decreases as facilities are added, the aggregate cost increases exponentially
After presentation of cost you might feel only certifying one location could be a smart cost-saving work-around, we recommend not taking this shortcut as it could disqualify you from certification.
How to Apply for LegitScript in 3 Simple Steps
Here is a step-by-step guide to getting your Addiction Treatment Certification from LegitScript.
Step 1 – How to Sign up
LegitScript’s website is easily navigable with a clear link of where to sign up.
Step 2 – Create an Account
After hitting the apply button and deciding this is necessary for your business, you will be directed to the account sign up process.
This process is simple and straightforward, however before you can continue, you will be asked for your credit card number and be required to submit your per location application fee.
Step 3 – Let’s Get Started
The landing page looks innocuous and is easy to navigate, other services LegitScript provides are all housed here, but you will be looking for ‘VIEW INFORMATION’ under Addiction Treatment Centers.
Click “Start New Certification”
Here are the questions, some straightforward need no explanation, some you can contact LegitScript support for clarification.
In each, you will be able to:
- Write in your response
- Check ‘Not applicable for this application’
- Hit ‘Save for Later’
- Save & Next
- If you, the respondent completing this application do not meet these criteria:
- You work directly for the applicant
- You are authorized to represent the applicant’s business and treatment practices
- You are able to refer follow-up questions to the appropriate person(s)
Please provide contact information for the appropriate person
- Please provide information for at least one backup contact who is authorized to answer questions and make decisions regarding your application.
- Please provide your EIN or other federal tax identification number
- Is your business a recognized 501(c)(3)?
- If your organization is a registered, current 501(c)(3), please upload proof of your tax-free status, such as an exemption letter from the IRS
- If your treatment facility has a National Provider Identifier (NPI), please provide it here.
- Do you provide in-person drug or alcohol addiction treatment or facilitate online drug or alcohol treatment at a private residence or non-clinical setting?
- Do you provide a mutual support group? A mutual support group is defined as any website, application, online forum, or merchant that does not offer or purport to offer drug or alcohol addiction treatment, but that facilitates interactions between non-professional members engaged in recovery.
- Do you provide a crisis hotline? A crisis hotline is defined as any website, application, call-center, chat feature, or telephone number that provides or purports to provide remote assistance or information to individuals in recovery, or to individuals who are seeking information about addiction or addiction treatment, or to any person associated with such individuals.
- Do you agree that LegitScript may conduct on-site inspections of your facility/facilities, and you will in no way restrict LegitScript access?
- Do you consent to LegitScript performing, at its sole discretion, criminal background checks on key treatment providers and other staff as it deems appropriate?
- (upload file) Please submit resumes or qualifications of key treatment providers. Key treatment providers are defined as people who:
- are employed in a position that requires a state, federal, or professional license; or
- have direct oversight of anyone meeting the standard delineated in (1); or
- anyone who has significant input on organization treatment policies.
- Please submit copies of existing written policies and procedures that reference treatment services offered or recommended, and that demonstrate a commitment to best practices, effective recovery, and continuous improvement. Such policies should include:
PRO TIP: Many times when working in the addiction field, addicts who have recovered are employed and there can be large gaps in employment due to addiction issues. For this question, we suggest having your marketing representative write resumes for those who may not have them, or ask the employee to do so.
- Intake and discharge
- Admittance criteria
- Discharge procedures
- General policies
- Resident handbook
- Grievance policies
- Neighborhood complaints intake and resolution process
- No kickback policy
- Referral policy
- Best practices and outcomes
- Procedures for collecting outcomes data for continuous improvement
- Relapse prevention and monitoring
- Resident search policy
- Relapse policy
- Drug and dangerous items disposal policy
- Urine and breath testing policy, including frequency of testing
- Detoxification staffing and supervision
PRO TIP: If you have a policies and procedures book or employee handbook, and/or are Joint Commission or State Certified this question won’t be difficult, just time-consuming. We suggest going through piece by piece and scanning in the documents. If you have soft copies, that is even better!
If your company, its officers, or employees, including any treatment provider, or any medical practitioner associated with your company, has been the subject of disciplinary action within the last five years, please upload a summary of events related to the discipline and any corrective actions that have been put in place and/or accepted by state regulatory authorities.
- Business relationships
- Treatment facility information and licensing
- Key treatment provider information and licensing
- DEA license information
- Comprehensive staff list
PRO TIP: “The Spreadsheet” is what this question has become referred to. The link takes the applicant to a very large spreadsheet with multiple tabs. This is the question that takes the longest and requires the most information gathering.
Ok, that might all feel like a lot.
But it’s not as much as it looks like, as mentioned, many of the questions are ‘yes/no’.
Here Are the Questions We Got Hung Up on, and What We Did About It
“The Spreadsheet” is what this question has become referred to. The link takes the applicant to a very large spreadsheet with multiple tabs. This is the question that takes the longest and requires the most information gathering.
Tab 1: overview
Tab 2: Asks the applicant to list out ALL business holdings of Principals
Tab 3: Add in all the information for your facilities
Tab 4: This tab will help the facility find out if anyone working for them has expired credentials and allow them to rectify that. Although it may be a great way to catch those potential violations, it can be inundating to have to 1. Track them down and 2. Rectify issues
Tab 5: This tab is called “DEA – Controlled Substances” and is asking for information about any controlled substances provided by the facility. If the substance is provided by an outside provider then leave this portion blank. This is only if you distribute these substances in-house.
We reached out to Legit Script during the process, and received an email back rather quickly.
The question was regarding what constitutes a “key treatment provider”, although the response was fast, the answer was literally copied and pasted from the website, which wasn’t helpful.
Upon reaching out again, we received a phone call from a Portland, OR number where LegitScript’s headquarters is located.
The conversation was pleasant and informative, although extracting information other than what is already on the website can be difficult. Several times we had to say, “we read that on the website already, but what does it mean?”
Ultimately, just as suspected, a “key treatment provider” is anyone who interfaces with clients at all. In this case it is best to submit an abundance of information rather than the minimum.
Regardless of the interaction, being able to get a same-day call after submitting the Contact Us form was a win in our book.
Upon submission you will have your application handled by LegitScript, and they will be in contact with you to guide you through any additional needs they might have. So although completing the application thoroughly the first time will save in any further work, it doesn’t mean they won’t work with you to help you rectify any absences or errors.
Once certification has been granted, LegitScript will send the form that needs to be submitted to Google Ads to prove to them you have been certified. The Facebook Ads form and the Google Ads form proving certification are also available online.
Facebook very clearly states LegitScript is a must – have.
As is Google’s form:
While some may view LegitScript as a paid requirement to gain access to a paid advertising platform, to its credit, LegitScript continues to play its role in combating deceptive and unethical marketers.
This service is another facet of Google and Facebook’s ever-growing online domination and expanding pay-to-play culture.
If your treatment center is looking into advertising with Google or Facebook and needs help with the LegitScript application, please get in touch with us.
Reach out or leave comments about your experience!
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