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Telehealth and online prescriptions: Choosing the best medicine and the best care

Safely filling prescriptions online
Safely filling prescriptions online 03:17

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - To say that things are a little more expensive right now would be an understatement and we're all looking for ways to save. 

Those facing the medicine of food dilemma are scrambling to try to afford both, which brings us to the med-shopping online. 

If you search for buying your medicine online, you might be surprised how many sites are out there waiting for you and the newest, biggest player is Amazon. 

Whether it's Amazon or one of its competitors, they are super convenient, generally cheaper, and anxious to help. 

No prescription? No problem - doctors are standing by. 

"It's not that you can't treat people that way, but you are missing out on the other aspects of the care that you're seeking," said Dr. Mallory Ciuksza of St. Clair Medical Group. 

Dr. Ciuksza is an internal medicine specialist at St. Clair Medical Group and she has regular telemedicine visits with her patients. 

"It's to augment the experience of having an established relationship with a doctor in the office," she said. 

However, with online providers, you go online, choose your issue, get connected to a doctor, a prescription is written, and the site then fills it and ships it. 

"When you're doing a physical exam, you're looking for things like vascular disease, heart disease, lung disease," Dr. Ciuksza explained. "This stuff can be easily missed without a physical exam."  

She added that telemedicine does have its place - it's great for dealing with mental health issues or a patient's time constraints. Dr. Ciuksza encourages her patients to seek out discounts on their medication. 

"I spend a lot of time trying to make sure that the medication prescribed to people is affordable for them because of medication they can't afford," Dr. Ciuksza explained. 

She does warn that telemedicine alone has built-in risks. 

"I don't think there's a substitute for seeing a doctor in the office and having a hands-on physical exam," she said. 

Now, let's be clear, Dr. Ciuksza embraces telemedicine, but she and many others in the healthcare field are wary about the quality of care if you never physically see the doctor. 

Online drugs are here to stay, it's a multi-billion dollar industry. 

Getting the right price and getting the safest drugs are important because you want to make sure the supplier is reputable. That said, work with your doctor to get the best meds that you need and then go shopping online and in pharmacies to find the most affordable supplier. 

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