In this article supplied by Men's Health Week partner Lloydspharmacy Online Doctor, Dr Tom Brett from explains how the internet is improving access to medical services, especially for men
As more of us use the internet to manage our personal finances, book holidays and purchase everyday essentials it’s only logical that we’ll want to log on for health queries too – and we don’t even have to lose the personal touch!
A study carried out by the Future Foundation in 2009 (link to come) found that 48% of respondents were interested in online diagnosis and 56% were interested in online prescriptions. The internet is revolutionising how we access doctors, especially for men who typically do not visit their GP very often.
For people who are too busy to visit a doctor face-to-face, or prefer the anonymity of a remote diagnosis, reputable and trustworthy websites offer a convenient and discreet solution for a range of conditions. From anti malaria treatment and travel vaccinations to erectile dysfunction and hair loss, advice and possible treatment options can be found via the web.
So how do you know which pharmacy and doctor websites to trust? By law, all online pharmacies must be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council as this ensures that only genuine medicines are supplied, accurate information is given and careful checks are carried out. This is extremely important as unregulated websites may supply fake medicines, which at best may be ineffective and at worse toxic.
When consulting with a doctor online, for additional assurance check that the doctors are registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) and that the service is regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The CQC registration shows that the site has been assessed to comply with the Care Standards Act 2000, which covers everything from Data Protection, Medical Records, clinical protocols and recruitment and training for doctors.
At Lloydspharmacy Online Doctor we have been providing remote consultations since July 2008. As such, we’re extremely experienced in dealing with sensitive conditions, private patient records and online prescribing.
If you’ve never had an online consultation with a doctor, you’re probably wondering how it works. Well, on our site the process is very straight forward and easy to use. Firstly, you register on the website www.lloydspharmacy.com/doctor and select the service you require. You’ll then be asked a short series of questions to ascertain the exact nature of your symptoms or condition. When you have completed the questionnaire, the answers are reviewed by one of a team of GMC registered UK based doctors.
The Online Doctor is a private service where payment can be conveniently and securely made by credit or debit card. Prices vary depending on the treatment, and if the patient is not suitable for treatment their money is refunded.
My colleagues and I adhere to strict protocols which have been developed in conjunction with leading specialists. If your circumstances fall outside of these, we will signpost you appropriately via your secure patient record. Where it’s suitable, we will issue an electronic prescription. You can then choose between picking medicines up at one of our pharmacies or having them delivered in discreet packaging to arrive the next working day by Royal Mail Special Delivery.
The Online Doctor service is not designed to replace your GP but rather to provide a service for people with certain conditions who prefer the convenience or discretion of a remote diagnosis and are willing to pay for it. It is important however that your GP has an overview of any medicine you take and, if you would like us to, we can inform your GP of any treatments or advice we give.
As technology develops, the number of medical services offered remotely is increasing and so too are the number of users. In 2010, the Lloydspharmacy Online Doctor saw its patient numbers more than double, which goes to show that when sites are well regulated and trustworthy, the internet can offer convenient medical solutions.
Page created on June 8th, 2011
Page updated on June 9th, 2011