The GP website has expanded to offer online scripts for STIs, contraception and ED as well as medication delivery

Qoctor, formerly known as Dr Sicknote, is an online medical hub that offers medical certificates, specialist referrals and online consultations.

And this week it has announced it is expanding into providing online prescriptions for STIs, contraception and erectile dysfunction.

Run by a team of GPs, Qoctor also offers an online pharmacy and medication delivery service.

“Our online doctor service allows you to get paper prescriptions sent to an address of your choice,” says Qoctor on its website.

“Or for added convenience, you can get your medication express delivered to your home or workplace.”

Qoctor’s online doctor fee is $19.99, including standard postage for a prescription or medication. Express delivery costs an extra $4.99.

The process of purchasing a medication includes completing an online questionnaire, with questions such as “I confirm that my BMI is under 35” and “I confirm that I am up to date with my last pap smear” with the consumer selecting the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ button.

Qoctor claims each questionnaire is reviewed by a GP from the Qoctor team before the medication is sent out.

However due to the online screening process it is possible for the consumer to select a box without the doctor knowing it is the correct choice.

At the end of the process, the consumer is asked to confirm that they are “aware that this may not replace the need for a face to face consultation and examination with my GP”.

The online screening and ordering process takes about 5 minutes before the consumer is able to list their postal details and order their medication.

Purchasing Laila-35, for example, costs $33.98 including postage of two month’s worth of medication and prescription fee.

Dr Aifric Boylan

Dr Aifric Boylan

GP and Director at Qoctor, Dr Aifric Boylan, says that despite criticism her team is dedicated to providing a safe, online hub for Australian health.

“It’s not always necessary for a patient to see a doctor in person to safely access the medication they need,” Dr Boylan tells AJP.

“It comes down to wisely selecting the conditions and treatments that are amenable to an ‘online’ approach, and then ensuring that a thorough self-screening process takes place.

“Qoctor prescribes treatments which neatly fit this model – we ask the patient all the relevant questions in a simple straight-forward way.

“It’s also important to recognise that many people have difficulty accessing treatments they need for a variety of reasons, such as long work hours or shift work, remote location, or embarrassment relating to certain health issues. Qoctor’s online service offers choice to such patients who might otherwise be unable to get the healthcare they require.”

Dr Boylan says there is evidence self-screening is as effective as questioning by a doctor.

“The reality is that in busy GP clinics, quite often patients do not get asked some of the important questions at all. For instance, it’s a very common occurrence to meet women who have been prescribed the contraceptive pill for years, despite having a clear history of migraine with aura – they’ve simply never been asked,” she explains.

“And it’s also possible for a patient to misunderstand a question asked in person, just as they would on an online form. There is no “perfect system”. But there is strong body of evidence that supports self-screening by patients – it can be just as effective as questioning by a doctor. Indeed, studies have shown that patients may be more conservative and thorough than doctors when they access prescription medication via self-screening tools.”

Qoctor claims it has saved Medicare $298,954 in costs so far through offering online services.

How does Qoctor work with pharmacy?

For patients who only purchase a script, there is a section on the website for pharmacists to check the validity of a prescription, and pharmacies can also register with Qoctor.

According to Dr Boylan, Qoctor can send a paper copy of a prescription to the patient, or to their nominated pharmacist. If the patient prefers to order medication for delivery, they can do so, via their pharmacy partners.

“This is a new and forward-thinking way for doctors and pharmacists to interact – Qoctor has a growing list of pharmacy partners, with whom we work closely to ensure patients’ needs and expectations are met, and to further develop our online services,” says Dr Boylan.