Objectives: Following the introduction of a nationwide online telepharmacy chat-service in Denmark in the spring of 2012, offering free counselling to all Danish citizens, we aimed to investigate the types of enquiries that are made to the telepharmacy.
Methods: We extracted 500 consecutive chat transcripts and categorised them in four categories: drug-related, symptom, technical and other. These categories were further divided into 28 prespecified subcategories. After the categorisation of the 500 transcripts, 7 new subcategories were added and the material was reanalysed. For drug-related enquiries, the drug in question was registered according to the anatomical-therapeutic-chemical system developed by World Health Organization. Veterinary and empty (nonresponding) enquiries were excluded.
Key findings: Four hundred seventy-six eligible enquiries were identified and categorised. The enquiries were found to be diverse: 170 enquiries (35.7%) were drug-related, 124 (26.1%) were technical in nature, 91 (19.1%) were related to symptoms and 91 (19.1%) of the enquiries were categorised as other. The most common drug class was 'drugs related to the genitourinary system and sex hormones'. Only 50 (10.5%) of the enquiries happened in connection with an actual purchase at the online pharmacy. Of all enquiries, 28.6% led to a referral to a medical doctor. Of the customers, 89.2% were satisfied with the online counselling.
Conclusion: The diverse enquiries require professional chat operators with broad experience. Some subjects are overrepresented when compared with regular pharmacy counselling and should receive special attention. Continued monitoring is considered essential.
Keywords: Internet < delivery of care; Internet pharmacy < E-health; community pharmacy < community pharmacy; pharmaceutical care < medicines management.
© 2014 Royal Pharmaceutical Society.