New online GP prescription service goes live in Ireland

4 Dec 2014

A new online medical service has gone live in Ireland that will make it possible for people to get consultations and receive prescriptions digitally and without having to physically visit a clinic.

For €20, offers online access to qualified GPs and prescription services for selected treatments.

In Ireland, medical consultations, testing and private prescriptions are available for acne, asthma, contraception, impotence, rosacea, malaria, and high cholesterol.

With asthma rates in Ireland the fourth highest in the world, DrEd believes the service will be a welcome relief to those constantly paying out for repeat prescriptions.

The service works by providing a confidential online assessment which one of DrEd’s online doctors review and then issue a private prescription if suitable.

“DrEd aims to lower healthcare costs for Irish consumers and save them the inconvenience of visiting a doctor for certain health issues – particularly those requiring repeat prescriptions like the contraceptive pill and asthma,” explained Dr Louisa Draper, medical director for DrEd.

“The service is not proposing to keep patients from seeing doctors face-to-face when they need to, but it could cut down on overall health costs by helping patients solve simple health problems without an expensive clinic visit. For some conditions, the privacy and confidentiality offered from the comfort of your own home will be a strong attraction.”

But is legit?

A spokesperson explained that while the supply of prescription-only medication online or by mail order is illegal in Ireland, supplying a prescription is not.

New legislation (European Directive 2011/24/EC) allows patients in Ireland to seek medical services from any country in the European Union.

DrEd is registered with the NHS governing body (the CQC) in the United Kingdom as an online doctor service. Its GP doctors are regulated by the General Medical Council, who are legally allowed to prescribe medicines online. 

The spokesperson said all DrEd doctors work to strict clinical protocols that have been defined for each service.

“The online consultation requires that the patient answer a very detailed set of questions and if certain issues are highlighted that indicate that the prescription is not appropriate the prescription is declined and a face-to-face consultation is advised. A full refund is issued at this point,” she said.

“Following treatment, patients can interact with DrEd’s doctors via their electronic patient record or via telephone if they have concerns or minor issues. They should seek emergency help in Ireland for serious matters, as they would if they had been treated by their own GP.”

Doctor image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years