Recently, the bureau received an influx of these complaints from people alleging they had a virtual appointment with the company and paid for services, but their prescriptions were never sent to the pharmacy. Often the customers tried to contact the company but would never hear back. Some would get their payments refunded.
“Other complaints allege the company takes payment and detailed information, and the consumer is charged for a service that is never provided,” the bureau said in its warning about Doctor Alexa. “Complaints received by BBB remain steady in December as cold and flu season is in full force.”
When the Observer reached out to Doctor Alexa for comment, someone put us on hold and made us listen to seemingly never-ending smooth acoustic rock music. No one picked up the line.
Complaints about the company come from 19 different states. “I Googled a telehealth provider for a tooth infection, and this company came up first,” one customer in Missouri told the BBB. “They even had me create an account, requesting all of my medical info, personal info, and even a picture of my license.”
"Other complaints allege the company [Doctor Alexa] takes payment and detailed information, and the consumer is charged for a service that is never provided.” – Better Business Bureau
Then, the company charged the customer $49 and never reached back out.
A customer in Louisiana made a virtual appointment with one of the company’s medical professionals, who prescribed antibiotics for a UTI, but the prescription was never filled. “Now I have to pay another doctor to see me and treat me,” the patient told the BBB.
As telemedicine became more prevalent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it also became more ripe for fraud and scams. Last July, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) put out a special fraud alert regarding “purported telemedicine companies.”
The OIG alert came the same day the U.S. Department of Justice announced charges against 36 people in telemedicine schemes totaling $1.2 billion. Monica Horton, a BBB spokesperson, told the Observer that 2022 statistics were still being certified. But in the two prior years, the BBB received over 300 complaints in its telemedicine category. There were 133 in 2020, and 209 in 2021. “Ironically in 2019 we did not have a category for telemedicine,” Horton said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are still a lot of barriers to the widespread adoption of telemedicine. Information security, patient privacy and liability concerns are just a few.
Morton suggested people speak with their doctors or insurance providers for telehealth recommendations, and to check the BBB website to find trusted businesses that will not just take their money but will provide the services promised.