Pharmacy not conducive to assessment, says online doctor

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Online doctor service Qoctor has also taken aim at pharmacy sick notes, as it celebrates its 10,000th medical certificate

Earlier this month, Innex Willox, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, told News Corp media that “some bosses would be sceptical of notes obtained from a chain store pharmacy”.

“Pharmacists are not doctors and the Fair Work Act makes no reference to them being appropriately qualified to issue medical certificates for the purposes of personal/carer’s leave entitlements,” Mr Willox said at the time.

On a later Channel Seven report, the AMA’s Dr Chris Moy said that he was concerned that patients might not be able to be adequately assessed in a “busy shop”.

Now Dr Aifric Boylan, CEO of Qoctor – formerly known as Dr Sicknote – has told the AJP that she has similar concerns.

“I can understand the apprehension around sick notes being issued by pharmacists—the physical environment of a pharmacy may not always be conducive to a thorough and confidential assessment,” she says.

“Furthermore, pharmacists receive very different training to doctors, and whilst a medical certificate may seem like a simple matter, it’s vital that the healthcare professional who issues it has robust clinical training and experience, so if something more serious is underlying, it’ll be picked up on.”

Qoctor (which News Corp still referred to as Dr Sicknote) had also come under fire from Mr Willox, who said that employees would be wise not to use such services as “for obvious reasons, in most cases a doctor will be unable to conclude that a person is genuinely sick without having any physical contact with the person”.

Meanwhile, Qoctor has just celebrated its 10,000th sick note, which it says makes it the largest distributor of medical absence from work certificates in Australia.

Since its launch two years ago it has added the provision of specialist referrals, prescriptions and delivery of medication through its online hub.

It says prescriptions for conditions like chlamydia, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and hair loss in men, as well as contraception, are expected to be top sellers for consumers in 2018 based on sales data.

“Qoctor’s online doctor service continues to expand—we are now offering online consultations, including assessment for prescription medications where appropriate- with home delivery available if the patient wishes,” Dr Boylan says.

“It’s growing very rapidly, as it allows patients to access treatment for contraception, sexual health and multiple other common health issues, without the need to take time out to visit a doctor in person.

“We are looking to expand our network of partner pharmacies in the coming months, throughout Australia.”

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