Telehealth Enters Medical Cannabis Sphere

As the world goes digital amidst COVID-19, the medical cannabis sphere may soon follow suit and allow virtual telehealth visits.

telehealth

Various forms of ‘virtual visits’ have been financially supported by the federal government in the US as people do what they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Now American citizens are endorsing telehealth visits for the controversial treatment that is medical cannabis. 

More than 24 states have made temporary allowances for prescribing medical cannabis via telemedicine. Most of them are using telemedicine for the first time, boosting patient volumes for providers who have taken knocks from the ongoing pandemic, allowing them to provide vital care to thousands of patients. With this success, many are now calling for this to become a more permanent fixture. 

However, there are some concerns that come with telehealth. What about patient safety and privacy? What could the long term impacts of telehealth be, especially in too much of a rushed manner? These questions and more have been raised, but despite this many are still very much in favour of this movement. 

Jordan Tishler, owner of a medical cannabis practice based in Boston, prefers to have face to face consultations with his patients. But after a little more than a month with the telemedicine model in place, he said: “I have found telemedicine works well for what I do.”. 

It is not currently clear just how many healthcare providers are prescribing cannabis across the US, let alone via telemedicine. Some states, however, have made some of their data public. Oregon counted up 9 269 prescribers in April alone, while Arizona tallied 704 by the end of March. Rhode Island racked up 807 prescribers at the end of 2019, Connecticut coming in with 1 253 and Florida with an impressive 3 486 as of March 30th. 

Those prescribing medical cannabis include a range of professionals, such as physicians and nurses, and even the occasional dentist. It would appear that both patients and professionals are warming up to the concept of telemedicine – and it’s possible that such a model could be used in South Africa in the near future. 

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