A handy convenience or a potentially dangerous endeavour?
That's the question being asked in medical circles about Ireland's first ever online GP (General Practitioner) doctor service, which allows users to collect prescriptions for inhalers, erectile dysfunction, and, controversially, the morning-after contraception pill, over the internet.
DrThom.ie is the online progeny of two Irish Medical Council (IMC) regulated doctors, and allows its doctors to "provide online consultations without the need to see a doctor face to face".
The easy three step process is plastered over its website: fill out a questionnaire, pay the fee, and wait for your prescription to come in the post.
DrThom.ie is part of a bigger 'Dr Thom' operation: DrThom.com earlier this month posted a notice announcing the launching of its services in Ireland; it already does a trade in the UK and has thusfar seen over 200,000 'patients'.
The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) however have already expressed their worry at the website's recent arrival, saying that face-to-face consultation is part of the medical process.
During a physical exam, the Union claims, other problems often show up: "other things often turn up" unbeknownst to the patient, a spokesperson for the Union claimed.
The Union has also called on the Irish Medical Council (IMC), the body responsible for the regulation of doctors in Ireland, to "urgently" look into the matter.
Because the website does not actually dispense prescription medications but only prescribes them, it is not breaking any law - thus regulation could prove difficult.
The UK version of the site, however, offers a much broader range of diagnoses.
Mental health (depression), heart health, diabetes, and sexual health, are all categories which can be seen at one of the online 'clinics' -- therefore it seems likely that the three 'treatments' being tested on the Irish markets may grow as the site takes off here.
It will be interesting to see what kind of a reaction the site gets over the coming months.
A promo video from the UK branch of the website. Would you use this service?