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What do the future hold for e-prescriptions?

I've been doing quite a lot of work on one of Fresh Egg's clients, The Online Clinic, in the last month or so and it's seriously got me thinking. They offer a few prescriptions for drugs over the internet, but not a full range of drugs and pharmaceuticals like you normally find in a pharmacy.

Out of curiosity (I'm a regular Elephant's Child) I started looking around to see what other sites offered. I managed to stumble into a fairly widespread debate about the future of selling pharmaceuticals and dispensing prescriptions over the net. I didn't manage to find a site that offered a full range of drugs.

Has anyone found one yet? Or don't they exist yet? Possibly, they are just the next evolutionary step along this path.

People seem to be divided on the topics of prescriptions and medicines obtained over the Internet. One group feels that it's one of the greatest developments of modern times while the other group feels that activities of that sort should be completely avoided.

There are logical arguments to back up both groups, but no one can deny that the practice seems to be becoming more and more widespread. The question is: Will medical and pharmaceutical practices evolve to encompass the advent of online prescriptions?

If these types of prescriptions are not embraced by the industry, will they slowly disappear and become meaningless?

The group that is against the use of online prescriptions points to the fraud and abuse of those types of prescriptions. Those people point out that many sites have no safeguards in place to ensure that any of the information that they receive is true or accurate.

The other problem is that there are a lot of sites who issue drugs and prescriptions without any thought to the recipient's health. These are often the types of prescriptions that can lead people to abuse prescription drugs. These types of "e-prescriptions" can allow people to circumvent measures put in place for their own health and safety.

The group who support the use of e-prescriptions seem to ultimately want the e-prescriptions to become integrated into the mainstream ways of medicine dispensation. They believe that in time it might ease the burden on the health care system if people could communicate with a doctor online for minor ailments.

This could take the form of an online chat where a patient describes their symptoms and gets prescribed the appropriate medicine.

This could provide more available time for doctors to spend treating those with serious ailments. This could also take the place of dispensation of over the counter drugs.

In fact, this might even be the next logical step for Boots to take after they started providing Viagra over the counter.

People seem to think that current sites, like the Online Clinic, are prototypes of the system that could be implemented. They just need an expanded inventory and possibly some more interaction with doctors. Currently, the sites offer services where a patient can describe their problem and their medical history so that a diagnosis can be made without making the trip to a doctor.

At the moment, the sites like The Online Clinic only dispense drugs like Viagra and Cialis, but are these functions going to be expanded? More to the point, has it already been expanded on other sites?

The vision of those who support e-prescriptions is for people to be able to have video examinations and online prescriptions filled and delivered to a person's door. Has the vision been properly initiated yet or is it just ad-hoc growth? Is it just developing to meet a persons needs at that time, with no thought to future growth?

This sort of service could help to reduce the spread of highly contagious diseases which can often be spread during the course of a visit to the doctor. This seems to be a particular problem if the sick person uses public transport to get to the doctor.

For those people who are feeling weak or are confined to their home it can allow them to get qualified medical advice without the hassle and problems associated with having to visit the doctor. The industry would, however, have to be very well regulated to gain trust of more people and become effective in that way.

This style of functioning could also spread into other industries where a lot of face to face interaction could be facilitated over the internet. This could allow better communication regardless of a person's location in the world.

So far, my curiosity hasn't been sated, but I do get the feeling that I'll get to keep an eye on what's going on in that area though. It might even become part of my job.


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