Pros

Convenience, the consultation can take place in your own home at any time of day. No time needs to be taken off work to attend the consultation.

Treatment can be obtained quicker if required.

The service is cheaper to deliver than a face to face consultation.

There is less risk of spreading infectious diseases to patients and practitioner .

Cons

What is the true cost to the NHS of misdiagnosis or late diagnosis?

This type of consultation is not suitable for all ailments physical examination or blood tests or other appropriate interventions are often required in order to aid and evidence good diagnosis.

Stand alone services which are not integrated into the established primary and secondary care service often are very selective in the patients they treat causing more health inequalities. Private services often over promise and may under deliver, they do not have access to patients records nor do they often collaborate with patients GPs. There is a risk of over-prescribing, side effects of medications occurring without clear visibility of what patients have already been prescribed.

Private pharmacies with pharmacy prescribers are not regulated by CQC in England or Wales.

How can the risks and benefits be measured ? How are the service providers regulated ? How can the public be protected from bad practice ? How can they assess which service to chose ?  We need to help patients make informed choices and improve access to safe effective services to improve their health outcomes. The online revolution is about to explode and nobody really knows what the long term effects will be on public health.