A pioneering online pharmacy UK Meds has announced it invested more than £500,000 into an innovative AI and facial biometrics software to improve patient safety within the industry.
The news comes in the same week that the average waiting time for GP appointments in the NHS has peaked at 15 days.
In response to the increasing demands on NHS services and growing needs for patients to buy prescription medicines, UK Meds is partnering with the global identity verification provider Onfido to make buying prescription-only medicines online much safer.
Recent data published by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) states that 25% of people are likely to use online pharmacies in the future, but 50% of those unlikely to do so have concerns about the safety of online pharmacies.
Following the research, the GPhC published new safeguarding guidelines around buying medicines online.
Joe Soiza, Managing Director of UK Meds, said: “We have significantly invested in new technology such as Onfido, which has strengthened the safety measures surrounding the purchasing of medicines online. We are ahead of the curve and already adhere to the updated national guidelines set out by the GPhC.
“We know that most of our customers use us because they cannot get a GP appointment, which must be very frustrating for them. At UK Meds we want to give people an alternative choice when it comes to prescription-only medicines and the confidence in buying medicines online.
“Patients go through thorough clinical checks to ensure that the medicine they have requested is medically appropriate and dispensed in the correct quantity and strength for their condition. The new software verifies people’s identity using photo-based government issued identity documents and artificial intelligence. Onfido’s technology first checks patients’ ID is genuine, then cross references the ID against international compliance watchlists.”
Verifying customer identities is important in preventing drug misuse, fraud and identity misrepresentation. As one of the first online pharmacies to implement Onfido, patients now ordering prescription-only medicines (POM) need to pass a stringent procedure before they can buy. If they don’t pass the verification process, their prescription request is declined.
UK Meds Director and Co-Founder Mason Soiza, who oversees technology innovations at the company, said: “We continually strive to put in place rigorous procedures and several layers of safety checks, operating in accordance with applicable legislation, which attempts to limit the potential for abuse of our service. Onfido’s facial biometrics technology takes our safety checks one step further.”
Regulated by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), UK Meds uses a number of highly qualified, UK-based independent prescribers to review prescription requests and, if approved, these are then dispensed from its Nottingham-based pharmacy.
Mason added: “We are fully committed to offering people an alternative choice when sourcing lifestyle products and prescription-only medicines in the safest possible way.
“The online pharmacy industry has a reputation for being unsafe and has been tarnished by a number of unscrupulous operators. We take patient safety very seriously and have implemented additional protocols and procedures to reassure and protect our customers.”
As a highly-regulated online pharmacy service, UK Meds provides a wide range of healthcare and lifestyle products, as well as pharmacy (P) lines and prescription-only medicines (POM) to patients across the UK.
Husayn Kassai, Onfido CEO and Co-Founder said: “Being able to verify who your customers are accurately and efficiently while giving them a good user experience is critical to preventing people obtaining medicines they shouldn’t. We’re excited to be partnering with UK Meds, to help them further make the customer journey both convenient and secure for their online prescription medication sales.”
UK Meds offers a confidential service which is registered and approved by the MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) UK Meds is registered as a pharmacy with the GPhC (General Pharmaceutical Council).
For more information about UK Meds, visit: www.ukmeds.co.uk.