Can Online Doctors Write Prescriptions? 

If you are worried about medical symptoms or a physical condition that has been impacting your life for more than a couple of weeks, then you might want to speak to a doctor about a possible prescription. 

Unfortunately, these days, it can be difficult to access a doctor for an in-person evaluation. That’s why you might want to consider booking an appointment with an online doctor instead. 

This guide explains whether an online doctor can provide the prescription that you may need for a medical condition. 

Table of Contents

Can Online Doctors Write Prescriptions?

Online doctors are legally able to write a wide range of prescriptions for their patients. Online doctors are medical professionals who have the necessary qualifications and experience to provide prescriptions. Any virtual doctor or online doctor who is qualified to provide a diagnosis and prescription in person can give a patient a prescription online. 

Can Online Doctors Write Prescription Refills?

Online doctors are also able to complete prescription refills for patients as well. This means that if you already have a prescription for a certain medication, you may not need to see a doctor in person to get the required refill. 

Instead, you will be able to legally refill a prescription online. Usually, this will be possible after you have completed a virtual medical consultation with a doctor online. This is necessary to ensure that you still need the prescription provided. 

What Can Online Doctors Prescribe?

Online doctors can prescribe virtually any medication that a patient would be able to get after seeing a doctor in person. This includes options such as antibiotics for viruses as well as medication for certain mental health conditions such as depression. 

When you visit a telehealth website, you can usually explore a full list of the medications that they are able to prescribe. Usually, this will constantly change based on new regulations as well as supply requirements. 

As such, it’s always worth checking before you arrange an appointment with an online doctor to ensure that they can offer the prescription you need. 

What Can’t Online Doctors Prescribe? 

Online doctors are able to prescribe most medications. However, controlled substances are considered to be a gray spot. 

Legally, online doctors are able to prescribe controlled substances to their patients. However, under the Ryan Haight Act, controlled substances can be prescribed online after an in-person evaluation. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the DEA overruled this allowing online doctors to prescribe controlled substances without in-person valuations. However, this was only possible if local state laws allowed for this. 

Furthermore, online doctors are currently required to complete a real-time evaluation using audio and visual technology before providing a controlled substance. The COVID-19 emergency guidelines set out by the DEA are also set to expire in May. 

Due to these factors, the vast majority of telehealth services will not allow their doctors to prescribe controlled substances, even if the necessary legal requirements are met. 

What Else Can Online Doctors Do?

Online doctors can do virtually everything an in-person medical professional is able to do for their patients. The only real difference here is that online doctors operate virtually whereas other doctors see their patients in person. 

This means that an online doctor can assess your symptoms and diagnose a medical condition. They can do this by asking questions about the symptoms that you are experiencing. 

Alternatively, they might complete a virtual physical examination. During a virtual physical examination, an online doctor may ask you to use your camera to show physical signs of your symptoms. 

This is another way that they can provide you with the right diagnosis. Some of the conditions an online doctor can diagnose and treat include:

An online doctor may also be able to provide you with advice on a condition or symptoms that you are experiencing. 

In some cases, a condition may be too complex for an online doctor to treat. However, they can still advise patients on the next step that they should take. 

Online doctors are also not an alternative for emergency treatment. If you feel as though your medical condition or symptoms are an emergency that requires immediate treatment, then you should make sure that you call 911 as soon as possible. While an online doctor could provide advice and treatment in a situation like this, it could delay you getting the support that you need. 

How to Get a Prescription From an Online Doctor?

To get a prescription from an online doctor, you need to book an appointment with a telehealth service. 

The benefit of a solution like this is that they are often quick and can be managed based on your schedule. This is useful if you have either personal or professional requirements that you need to manage. A large percentage of people now work from home so seeing an online doctor can be a practical option. 

During your virtual appointment, an online doctor may ask questions about the symptoms that you are experiencing or the medical condition that you are worried about. They will assess your situation and determine whether you require a prescription for a certain medication. 

Once you have your prescription, the medication can be paid for and sent directly to your address in a matter of days. If you already have a prescription an online doctor can also provide a refill during this time. 

How Can DrHouse Help You?

DrHouse is a telehealth service that allows you to connect with an online doctor in minutes. We are available 24/7 and have a broad range of medical professionals working with us. This means that whatever time you need to book an appointment, we can make sure that it is managed as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Our online clinicians can diagnose and treat your conditions and prescribe medication or medication refills when needed. All you need to do to start is to set up your account, download our telehealth app, and then you will be ready to start an on-demand visit with one of our doctors.

Key Takeaways

In conclusion, online doctors can write online prescriptions as well as provide prescription refills to patients. Usually, this will require patients to complete an online consultation. 

This will take place over the phone, by text, or on a video call depending on the service used and the prescription required. The only exception is controlled substances. 

While legally an online doctor can provide a prescription for controlled substances, this is dependent on local state laws as well as the requirements put in place by the DEA. As such, most telehealth services will avoid allowing doctors to complete this type of prescription for patients. 


Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.

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