[Below is a press release regarding the changes we have made to our service model, and our recent CQC inspection:]

UK-based online clinic goes live with new and improved service model, following a focussed inspection and positive feedback from the healthcare regulator.

The latest inspection was undertaken by the Care Quality Commission in July, following the release of their new guidelines concerning online prescribing in March.

In November last year, Treated.com was one of the first online pharmacies to be assessed by the CQC using an inspection model which was, at the time, still in development. The service was identified to be in breach of regulations, and was initially given a three month suspension.

However, HR Healthcare, which operates the Treated.com platform, asked for their suspension period to be extended to six months. They felt that this was necessary in order to carry out a comprehensive and wide-ranging reassessment of their systems and processes; and implement measures which would meet (and, where possible, exceed) the standards set by the regulator.

The CQC carried out a follow-up inspection in July 2017, using the new digital guidelines published in March. In all the areas they inspected, related to services being safe, effective, responsive to people’s needs and well-led, they found that ‘all the required improvements had been made’.

A letter from the Chief Inspector of General Practice, Professor Steve Field, summarised the report, noting among other key findings that:

  • there was an effective system in place for recording and reporting significant events
  • the clinical system had been updated so clinical staff could now easily access patient records from previous consultations
  • there was a system in place for quality improvement and clinical audit
  • there was a policy in place to cover data security, protection, destruction and disposing of sensitive data

The report also went on to note that there were ‘clearly defined and embedded processes and systems in place to keep patients safe and safeguarded from abuse’; as well as: ‘a system in place to monitor prescribing to ensure it was in line with best practice and NICE guidelines.’

You can read the full report on the CQC website.

Registered Manager for HR Healthcare, Riaz Vali, explained some of the changes the service implemented:

Not all online pharmacies and clinics choose to register with the CQC. However, we strive to provide the very best care possible to our patients; and we recognise that in order to do this, meeting the standards set by the Care Quality Commission is an essential requirement. As such, following the inspection last November, we welcomed their recommendations, and got straight to work.’

We implemented a range of new measures in our operations and practices, which have been reflected in the report. Patients returning to our site will see that we have overhauled our consultation process, and remodelled our questionnaires with the help of independent clinicians to make them more accessible, responsive and user-friendly.’

‘We brought forward plans to upgrade our website to a new hosting platform, which provides a simpler and smoother patient experience. We also surveyed our patient base to help us identify opportunities where we could improve our site and service model.’

He went on to say that he hopes the new CQC guidelines will be an important step in helping to educate patients on the safe use of online practices.

In addition to providing a convenient alternative for patients who, for whatever reason, cannot renew their prescription in person, one of our aims is to help reduce the likelihood of patients turning to illicit online providers, of which there are many.’

‘We consider the introduction of the CQC’s new guidelines for online prescribers to be a welcome development for online healthcare as a whole. As the industry develops, these standards will play a vital role in helping patients to easily identify services which are reputable and adhering to safe practices.’

‘We hope that these new guidelines, along with the publication of our inspection report, will help patients to realise that using a registered, regulated online pharmacy service such as ours can be a safe and effective means of getting access to prescription treatments.’