Many people are now not just using the internet to get information about healthcare matters: they are using online clinics to get medical advice and online prescriptions. This rapidly expanding area of online clinics and pharmacies is providing consumers with more choice than ever before but this brings with it other dilemmas such as which websites to trust. When a new industry develops it can be a bit like the Wild West. In the area of healthcare this situation can be slightly worrying as we really need to have confidence in providers of healthcare.
If you are using an online healthcare provider based in the UK you can take confidence from the fact that these online clinics are regulated and inspected in exactly the same way as any other healthcare provider – including the NHS. Any website operating a medical service in the UK must have license from the Care Quality Commission. The CQC, as it is known, will inspect a medical provider on a regular basis to ensure that standards are being met and maintained. If a website is not appropriately licensed then you would be wise not to use them. You can access the Care Quality Commission’s database of clinics here.
We have used a couple of online clinics to assess the standard of service provided so that you we can present examples of excellent providers of online healthcare. The first website that we tested was Private Doctor Direct. The website is licensed with the Care Quality Commission and we have to say we were very impressed with the service that we received. The website is very easy to navigate with all of the conditions that they treat set out in a way that is simple to navigate and refine. The consultation was dealt with very swiftly and we were given the name of the doctor who reviewed our consultation along with his GMC reference number. This part of the process was very reassuring. The prices appeared to be pretty competitive when compared with other websites. We placed an order and it arrived the next day with a clear set of instructions.
The other website that we decided to try was called Online Clinic. This website had a nice look and feel and it is properly licensed. The only problem with it is that they will only prescribe for patients that are already registered with them. While this is a nice and secure level of safety, it is not going to be convenient for everyone but we can see that it is a great service for those patients already registered with this clinic. If you are already registered then they have allocated patients with a unique login and the service then works in a very similar way to Private Doctor Direct. You login, choose your treatment and the doctor then issues a prescription direct to the pharmacy for next day delivery. You can also collect the treatment from their premises in Harley Street if you so wish but you have to do that the day after you place your order.
Both of the websites that we reviewed seemed extremely professional and we have no real criticisms. The one area where we think that they can improve is if they worked with a wider variety of pharmacists so that you could access a click and collect service. This would also be a good way of supporting your local high street pharmacy.