The CQC’s report praised the service for its standards of care, safety, responsiveness and leadership, and points out that in some areas the service achieves better results than offline GP services.
The service, which assists in health areas such as erectile dysfunction, hair loss, contraception and weight loss, is one of the first to combine an online offering with offline services in the form of a network of pharmacies linked to Online Doctor. The company says that self-prescribing audits undertaken by Online Doctor GPs highlight the benefit of a combined digital and in person approach, with a two per cent prescribing error compared to a national figure of 7.5 per cent.
LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor’s emergency contraceptive service was also singled out for contributing to a lower rate of unwanted pregnancies than the national average (1.3 per cent versus 2.5-6 per cent).
Amanda Dorkes, clinical director at LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, said: “Unlike online only services, our blended approach goes far beyond simply prescribing medication. The technology we use has been built and refined by our doctors over the last 10 years. It alerts them to circumstances where patients require face-to-face care, which can often be delivered that day by our pharmacy network.
“For example, our weight loss service helps keep vulnerable patients safe by ensuring they go into a pharmacy for a height and weight measurement. This has helped identify those who are experiencing eating disorders who can then be offered appropriate support. We have also been able to identify erectile dysfunction patients at risk of heart disease and diabetes and send them for a heart health check or diabetes test in-store.”
LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor managing director Andy Sloman said the service’s success can serve as a model for the community pharmacy sector: “We were one of the first to ever register with the regulators, and the results of our CQC inspection clearly highlight a way forward for an industry that has been called into question recently. We are leading the way with an innovative service that not only delivers the remote healthcare our patients need and want, but does so with a clear and continuous focus on patient safety and care.”
Thirty online services are subject to CQC investigation, with the next round of inspections due to be completed in autumn.