LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor gets stamp of approval from CQC

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated digital health provider LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor as Good overall and Outstanding in the ‘Well-led’ category following its recent inspection.

LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor gives patients access to a digital GP consultation whenever and wherever they need it. Over 2 million people have been treated through its digital services since 2002, with patient numbers growing significantly since the outbreak of COVID-19.

Andy Sloman, managing director at LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor commented: “We are very pleased with this result. Our goal has always been to provide convenient, safe and discreet healthcare services for patients that gives them an alternative to visiting their GP or hospital. We are constantly evolving our approach and our technology to make sure we are as effective and safe as possible. To achieve another good grade is a big step forward for us and digital healthcare.

“Many of us manage large parts of our lives online, but for some people, their busy lifestyle means they have less time to focus on their health. We make it easy for people to get expert advice from real GPs, without them having to make an appointment. We believe services like this are the future of healthcare.”

The CQC inspection assesses and rates healthcare service providers considering regulations and the CQC fundamental standards. It does this through specific Key Lines of Enquiry, which come under five Key Questions; is the service Safe, Effective, Caring, Responsive and Well-led?

LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, an Online Primary Care Service provider, achieved an Outstanding rating in the ‘Well-led’ category and was rated Good for ‘Safe’, ‘Effective’, ‘Caring’ and ‘Responsive. The report commended the company’s leadership and commitment to caring for and keeping patients safe as well as its approach to collaboration.

The report said: “The provider demonstrated commitment to system-wide collaboration and leadership. The provider was part of the Sexual Health London (SHL) joint commissioning model, which included an NHS Trust and an integrated diagnostic company who provided remote/self-sampling sexual health services. This has allowed them to improve the process of follow-up and referring patients back to NHS clinics. This is the first collaborative commissioning model of its kind across London and in the UK as a whole.”

Patients of LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor can access a range of private digital healthcare services including sexual health, hair loss treatments and vaccinations. They are first required to complete a personalised questionnaire to assess their condition which asks for the same information about their health, lifestyle and medicine history that their regular GP would ask, if not more. Then, supported by clinically safe algorithms, a team of doctors and prescribing pharmacists can assess results and risk, decide on the most appropriate treatment option for suitable patients and provide any additional advice or referrals.

Andy continues: “There are times when seeing a healthcare professional face-to-face is the best option, so it’s important that online services are properly integrated within the wider health system. For example, we are usually able to provide a prescription for the patient along with personalised health or lifestyle advice, but sometimes we will refer the patient to other services that can better help them with their condition. Our service is also connected with our physical LloydsPharmacy stores, where patients can collect their treatment and have another consultation with the pharmacist where required.

Online services can ease some of the pressure on frontline healthcare services like GPs and hospitals. Using digital tools appropriately can help to reduce waiting times for patients and provide an even more convenient experience. There is still some work to be done to build trust in online healthcare but recognition like our CQC rating will help us to do that.”

Based in London, LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor is a team of clinicians with experience caring for patients in NHS hospitals, GP surgeries and community pharmacies.

The CQC report, said: “We did not speak to patients directly on the days of the inspection. However, we received more than four hundred ‘Share Your experience’ forms and all were extremely positive about the service. [The provider] also received feedback through their patient participation groups. The results demonstrated that [patients] were satisfied or very satisfied and that GPs were polite, made them feel at ease and they were listened to.”