Many of us use online services to order food and gadgets, book holidays and even manage our money. These services enable us to order what we want when we want, without visiting a shop or battling the crowds.
Increasingly, and for similar reasons, people are turning to online doctors to get their prescription medicines. With no need to make a face-to-face appointment with the GP, online doctor services offer convenient healthcare when it suits you.
But how do you know if the online doctor service you’re using is safe? Here are a few markers of online doctor safety to look out for.
The CQC logo
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of all health services in England. The CQC inspects, monitors and rates health services, enabling patients to make an informed choice as to where they get their care.
If an online doctor service is registered with the CQC and complies with the same regulations as your GP, its logo will appear on its website. This gives you the assurance that the doctors behind the scenes only prescribe medicines when appropriate and that the entire service being provided complies with UK standards.
LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor displays the logo at the bottom of every page – see below, highlighted in the black box.
Clear, comprehensive consultation
Whether you’re requesting a specific medicine or test, or looking for treatment, an online doctor service needs to provide a full consultation to assess what’s right for you.
During a visit to your GP, you’d describe your symptoms and give a full medical history, including information about existing conditions and any medicines you’re taking.
An online consultation should follow the same process – it may appear as a questionnaire to enable the doctors to review the information more easily.
You should expect to be asked about:
– your age, gender and location
– to describe your symptoms (you may be able to type, or be given a list of options to choose from)
– conditions you’ve had in the past and any you have now
– any medicines you’re taking
– your family history of similar or significant conditions
This information should be reviewed by a doctor, who will either ensure that you are prescribed the appropriate treatment or advise on the best course of action.
If you’re not asked any of these questions before being asked for payment or prescribed a treatment, you may not be using an approved online doctor service.
To use an online doctor service, you’ll need to register. This gives you a unique patient ID number and an account you can use to track your communications with the doctor. This system should be secure, involving the creation of a password.
Once your consultation is complete, a doctor will review the information. Occasionally you might need to provide more information, so the doctor will message or arrange to call you, depending on your contact preferences.
When the online doctor service contacts you, the doctor should give you their name and have their General Medical Council registration number visible or to hand. This is for your safety and reassurance, so you can check that they’re a licensed, qualified clinician.
You might be approved for a treatment or test, but you may be told you’re not be eligible for a specific medicine. If that happens, the doctor should tell you why you’re not eligible and give you advice on what to do next.
What about LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor?
- Our service is registered with and regulated by the CQC – see the results of our last inspection.
- All our clinicians are GMC registered and have extensive experience – meet them here.
- Independent five-star TrustPilot rating (correct August 13, 2018) and patient reviews can be found here.
LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor puts patient care first. If you’re still unsure about using the service, you can find more information here.
Remember: CQC, Consultation, Communication – a safe online doctor service will tick all these boxes. If it doesn’t, or you have any doubts, don’t use it.