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  • Roman Chernyshev

Online pharmacies : how does technology influence the community?

It is fascinating, how fast information can be spread through the internet. It is captivating, how at the same time, that information can be stored. Your personal intimate details are potentially in a vacuum of bottomless digital storage!

Consider that time you’ve had an embarrassing rash that you want to resolve but are too shy to show a health care professional? Online pharmacies could be your solution! No more awkward moments, everything you need is available there, online, with one click, one touch. However, how does it really help us in life? What are the flaws and consequences of the online pharmacy system that we need to know more about and need to be aware of?

Convenience is what makes online pharmacies so unique, the ability to access thousands of different medications and get it delivered to your door. Online pharmacies are designed to make life more convenient and save our precious time. Extra minutes spent with your family/friends, extra tick in your ‘to do’ list, those ‘5 more minutes’ to sleep, instead of queueing and going to the GP appointment, could become an impressive amount of time you saved a year. Therefore, this might be the reason most people choose online pharmacy services as a method of controlling their well-being.

Various statistics demonstrate that the preferred way of communicating for people is via email, meaning that the majority would find it more comfortable expounding their problems using modern methods of communication.

There might be various reasons for that: People don’t feel comfortable talking about the problem with the doctor face to face? Time management? Most online pharmacies offer online GP consultation services, which again helps to retain your time for more important things.

However, should we really save time on our health if we consider it a top priority, avoiding appointments, medical centres and hospitals? We should keep in mind that not everything can be diagnosed online, and the information exchange is heavily controlled by the patient. There are steps to open up patient records but it’s early days. So what information is being used to treat patients?

Software might seem more intelligent than people. It contains more information and knowledge, it is able to recognise the potential problems and resolve them faster, but unlike human beings the capability to grasp its mistakes, and find new solutions to new complications is at very early development stages and therefore might not be very helpful.

Online pharmacies have a purpose to make it easier and more comfortable for people to find and get what they need, to solve their particular problem. But is it truly easier for everyone? Many people like personal interactions, particularly when they are ill, not everyone is familiar or comfortable using technology to resolve their health problems.

The benefits of the adoption however could outweigh the resistance to change. A prescription can be sent directly to a pharmacy to be fulfilled, processed and delivered on the same day.

There are many patient groups that have specific needs, the elderly, the disabled, expectant mothers, families with young children, all have their own pressures in accessing care and health services. Online Pharmacy in one step can serve these and many other groups in a far more efficient and cost effective way.

The question of pharmacies operating over the internet is significant and must also be considered from the legal and ethical perspective. You may not have a positive experience every time you order something from an online pharmacy. There are sadly unscrupulous services which seek to make money by selling outdated, substituted, or counterfeit medications. One of the important factors which could be affected by that is confidentiality. It is what people look for in online pharmacies, but do not always find. It is important to find out and make sure that all the systems are hosted safely using secure methods before trusting the company.

This takes us full circle on our initial premise, online pharmacies can transform patients access to care and medicines, save time and make the experience smooth and easy. The market is emerging quickly, as patients we need to take care that the information we share with pharmacies online and on the high street, have processes in place that ensure our care is their primary concern.

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