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Reacting to the growing trend of “corporate interests” marketing online GP consultations directly to patients, the IMO is urging patients to “proceed with caution”. With the absence of a physical exam by a GP, online consultation can lead to an incorrect diagnosis or non-compliance with clinical guidelines, underlined the Organisation.
IMO GP Chair Dr Padraig McGarry said, “Online consultations are not medical consultations and patients should proceed with caution if choosing to use such a service. GPs provide a service with the backdrop of having the full background knowledge of the patient’s medical history. Online GP consultations cannot offer this holistic approach and will fall well short of a standard which should be offered and acceptable for our patients. Private healthcare companies are purely seeking to make profit by offering these online services.”
He added: “While online consultations can be suitable in certain scenarios such as emergency situations where a person may need specialist medical advice and support to talk them through the steps to stabilise a patient before the arrival of emergency services it does not and cannot replace a face-to-face consultation with a GP. A face-to-face consultation with a registered GP is the safest and most effective way to deliver healthcare.”
The IMO said nine services offering video GP consultations and online prescriptions that have been rated by the Care Quality Commission in the UK to date have been found to be unsafe. The nine services account for almost a quarter of the online primary care providers in the UK.
Dr McGarry said, “There needs to be appropriate regulation in this area to protect patients”.