Comfort or security? The Neuquén debate on WhatsApp revenue

Although it was applied as an emergency measure during the mandatory confinement to avoid the contagion of the coronavirus, the purchase of medicines with photos of the medical prescriptions that arrived via WhatsApp quickly became a widespread habit among the population. This Monday, a deliberation put an end to this exception and the discomfort of the patients was not long in being felt. What do the doctors and pharmacists of Neuquén think?

In order to guarantee the safety of drug purchases, which often have adverse effects and require medical supervision, pharmacy managers had integrated the methodology of requiring a prescription written by the hand of a health professional, with his signature. and a stamp in his name. numberplate. In this way, patients also benefited from discounts offered by social or prepaid obras.

Since March 2020, when quarantine forced everyone to stay at home, a resolution has been made so that patients can access the purchase of medicines without having to go through medical offices. In addition to respecting containment measures, health centers have become risky spaces, where the chances of coronavirus contagion have increased. Added to this was another scenario: medical professionals were focusing all their efforts on containing the pandemic, so it was very useful to speed up the dispensing of prescriptions for their chronic patients through digital channels.

In this way, patients were allowed to temporarily access their pills with photos of the prescriptions that the doctors sent by WhatsApp. Due to its practicality, the methodology was quickly picked up by patients, who have continued to use it even today, as the fear of coronavirus infections has dissipated and hospitals and clinics are more relieved.

For Viviana Quesada, president of the Order of Pharmacists of Neuquén, the decision was not a surprise, since it was a temporary measure put in place only because of the pandemic. He said, however, that it had been decided to maintain this habit for patients with chronic illnesses, who will be able to buy their drugs until February 28, when it will be their turn to submit paper prescriptions again.

“Going to the doctor shouldn’t be seen as an inconvenience, it’s a matter of safety,” said Quesada, who stressed the importance of having frequent medical supervision when consuming any type of medication. In a context where there is no risk to health, he expressed that handwritten prescriptions are the surest way to avoid irregular sales in pharmacies.

Medicines – prices* pharmacies

In turn, he pointed out that the use of paper prescriptions saves pharmacists from consuming time and financial resources by printing the prescriptions that their customers carry on their mobile phone or in a mailbox, since pharmacies must present evidence to social works.

The new resolution also reduces the possibility of customers buying more drugs than they should or even interfering with prescriptions to access pills or formulas that were not prescribed to them. However, some doctors consider that even handwritten prescriptions open a window to these illegal practices.

A surgeon from Neuquén clarified that traditional prescriptions can also come into play and those who want to falsify a medical prescription can print their own prescriptions on letterhead and even access stamps. “If you go to a bookstore and give them a name and a medical license number, they stamp you without asking for any kind of title and without checking anything,” he said.

For this reason, he defended the use of photos of medical prescriptions. “It’s a question of comfort, especially for the families of more serious patients or those with reduced mobility, who have difficulty getting to the consultations,” he said, adding that this custom is however detrimental to the post of work of doctors. “When you make a recipe by WhatsApp, it is almost impossible to collect the consultations,” he said.

For this reason, he proposed to take advantage of this debate to “give a legal framework” to the use of digital prescriptions. In this sense, Quesada affirmed that there are already social and prepaid works that allow making electronic prescriptions, which have more verification mechanisms than the photos circulating on WhatsApp.

“These are prescriptions that are made with the doctors’ digital signatures that are uploaded into each prepaid or social work system,” he clarified. Thus, it is not necessary to use paper but it is necessary that doctors respect the signing process, in order to further secure the purchase of drugs. In this way, there is also a file in the social work, which remunerates the professional for the follow-up and the prescription.

The pharmacist assured that the patients of Neuquén quickly understood the importance of using another methodology when purchasing. “We haven’t had any problems over the counter because they understand it’s for their safety,” he said, adding that in many cases chronic patients already have coordinated mechanisms with their GPs to speed up the preparation of the prescriptions they usually need, without having to wait for a turning point in the professional’s agenda.

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