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Can Virtual Doctors Prescribe Medicine?

Telemedicine is one of the most convenient ways to receive medical care and treatment. But can you get prescriptions from virtual primary care providers? The short answer is yes, if medically appropriate. A telehealth doctor can prescribe medications just as your in-person physician would.

How does telemedicine work?

Telemedicine is medical care that allows you to get diagnoses, treatment plans and more remotely. You will typically communicate with your online primary care provider through an account portal or app. Your provider can then assess your symptoms, talk about your health concerns, refer you to specialists, order lab work from nearby clinics, prescribe medications when appropriate and much more.

Telehealth services have only become more robust in recent years, and most primary care concerns can be addressed from the comfort of your home. You don’t have to deal with driving to the doctor, sitting in a waiting room or any of the other inconveniences that come with in-person visits. Telehealth is also more comfortable for most people since they’re in a familiar environment rather than a doctor’s office.

One of the other major benefits of telehealth services is the level of flexibility. While many doctor’s offices require you to schedule your care weeks or even months in advance, you can often get a same-day appointment with telehealth. You can also access chat features anytime from your account to message your primary care provider with questions and concerns.

In short, you can receive the same quality of care online as you would receive in person. The convenience of telehealth can’t be beaten, and many people are making the jump to using a virtual primary care provider.

What kinds of prescriptions can telehealth doctors write?

It’s understandable to be concerned with what prescriptions a telehealth doctor can write. Generally, telehealth providers can prescribe any medication an in-person provider can. This includes medications like antibiotics, daily medications, antidepressants (SSRIs), antihistamines and steroids. 

Your telehealth doctor can then monitor your condition with scheduled follow-ups, adjust dosage as necessary and change medications when medically appropriate. Your telehealth doctor can also send your medications to your preferred pharmacy in the same way an in-person physician can.

Below are some examples of the types of medications online doctors can prescribe:


Health providers prescribe antibiotics to treat or prevent bacterial infections. Most antibiotics are taken orally. Your provider will give you instructions on dosage and other details to take the medication safely.

Daily Medications

Your telehealth provider may also prescribe daily medications to help manage chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, thyroid conditions and more. These medications are typically used to relieve symptoms or prevent the condition from worsening.

Antidepressants (SSRIs)

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed to manage symptoms of mood disorders like depression and anxiety. These medications work to balance serotonin levels in the brain. Telehealth can be convenient for managing SSRI prescriptions since you can easily report side effects and experiences with the medication, allowing your provider to adjust your dosage or treatment plan as necessary.


Antihistamines are used to treat allergies. These medications help by inhibiting histamine production, which reduces symptoms like sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, runny nose and more. While many allergy medications are over-the-counter, sometimes stronger antihistamines are needed. Your online provider can write allergy medication prescriptions if medically appropriate.


Steroids are used to treat various conditions They work by reducing inflammation, swelling, joint pain and more. Steroids are strong medications and should only be taken as directed. Your provider can discuss the potential risks of steroids and help determine if this is the best course of treatment for you.

How to ask your doctor about getting medication?

If you think you may need a prescription for a condition, you will need to speak with your online primary care provider and get a full assessment. Your provider will need to make a diagnosis before providing any prescriptions for medications. Here are some steps for asking your doctor about potentially taking medication:

  • Be honest about your condition — Trying to fake symptoms to get a prescription is never a good path to treatment. Prescriptions need to be administered on a case-by-case basis. Being honest and open about your symptoms and your condition with your provider will help them make the best diagnosis and treatment plan possible.
  • Explain why you’re requesting a prescription — You can always advocate for yourself when seeking health care. If you think a prescription medication may help, explain this to your doctor.
  • Be open to other options — Your health provider will want to provide you with the best treatment possible. If they think that prescription medications may not be the solution, make sure to be open to alternative treatments such as lifestyle changes. Prescription medications aren’t always the best path for everyone.
  • Understand any medications you take — If your provider decides a prescription is appropriate for treatment, make sure to ask questions and understand your medication. You will want to go over side effects, dosage and other details to ensure the medication is working properly.
  • Follow-ups — Your provider will want to make sure your prescription is having a positive impact on your condition. Remember to always be honest about your progress so your doctor can make adjustments as necessary.

If you feel you’re not getting the treatment you need or if you’re uncomfortable with your doctor, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek a new provider. You’re in charge of your health care, so you should always advocate for yourself and find a provider who understands your needs.

Important things to know

The most important thing to know about receiving prescriptions through telemedicine is that you will only get medication if your doctor deems it medically appropriate. Sometimes people mistakenly assume that telehealth is an easy path to getting prescription medication. However, telehealth is the same as an in-person provider, with the added convenience of receiving your care remotely. 

Your board-certified provider will do a full assessment of your condition, symptoms and medical history and take an evidence-based approach to create your treatment plan. This will sometimes include prescription medication, but it’s not the default path.

Of course, your doctor will also be happy to explain your treatment plan in depth and explain why they think prescription medication is necessary or why they feel like it’s not necessary.

Talk to a Telehealth Doctor Today

If you’re seeking remote care through a telehealth provider, Circle Medical is your solution. Circle Medical is a fully-licensed medical provider that offers accessible, quality primary care over video. With one of Circle Medical’s 200+ board-certified providers, you can take appointments, get specialist referrals and get prescriptions when medically necessary. Plus, you get the convenience of receiving care from home and avoiding waiting rooms and uncomfortable doctor’s offices.

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Circle Medical also provides you with the flexibility of same-day appointments. Schedule your virtual appointment today to get started!

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