In the modern age, the combination of medicine and communications technology is apparent with the continued growth of the
Internet. The online pharmacy market is a steadily-growing business, with the need for regulatory boards and licensing system
becoming more and more apparent. However, the online pharmacy sector is not the only aspect of the medical system that is
making headway on the Internet. Thanks to the combination of the Internet, phone lines, and webcam technology, it is now
possible for a patient to have a consultation over the Internet. While these are convenient ways for a person to have his
symptoms diagnosed, there are a few things that need to be kept in mind.
The first problem is the issue of reliability of information. Like an online pharmacy that dispenses prescription-only
medication, the problem is in the limited amount of information that can be given over the Internet. On most online
consultation systems, the doctor has to rely mostly on what the patient says, with no option to physically check the
patient’s signs, such as blood pressure and pulse. The same problem applies even with webcam technology being fully utilized,
because there is still no data coming from tactile signs that a doctor can take note of during a regular, face-to-face
examination. This lack of information may not seem all that important, but when once considers the risk of a doctor creating
a mistaken diagnosis based on the lack of information, it suddenly becomes more of a concern.
However, the option of having a medical consultation online, just like ordering from an online pharmacy, is terribly
convenient. The primary source of the convenience is the ability to get a consultation and prescription remotely. This is a
benefit for those who cannot, for one reason or another, physically visit a doctor’s office and can’t arrange for a physician
to visit them in their home. It can also be useful in getting last-minute prescriptions, if the online consultation service
is not the type that requires scheduling the appointment beforehand. Services of this sort can be very useful when trying to
obtain a prescription before having to engage in some time-sensitive activity that prevents them from seeing a doctor.
There are currently no concrete statistics to show the lack of tactile information to be a significant problem for online
consultation services. While this is a positive thing, systems of this sort are still relatively new and there hasn’t been
that much of a time period for independent groups to gather long-term data yet. Another issue some might have is the lack of
any regulatory body for this outcrop of the industry, which means that consumers are the ones that bear the full
responsibility of ensuring their safety. This is to be expected from any industry that conducts business online that has
real-world ramifications, but it would help alleviate the worries of many a consumer if there was some sort of authority or
organization that verifies whether an online consultation and prescription service was a legitimate one.