Healthcare Technology Featured Article

January 13, 2021

As Marijuana Sales Increase, Telehealth Meets Demand for MMJ Evaluations

Even before the start of the pandemic, the medical marijuana industry was already one of the fastest-growing sectors, statistics showing that 48% of Americans had used marijuana in their lifetime. But, with the pandemic, the industry grew even more, and telehealth has had a significant role to play. In the past months, virtual doctor’s visits have been critical in reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus, and federal governments and insurers have covered them financially. At the same time, over 20 states have approved the use of telehealth for medical marijuana prescriptions. Before the pandemic, it was relatively rare for states to allow the prescription of medical marijuana after conducting online virtual appointments, but that changed when many states classified dispensaries as essential businesses during the lockdown. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, most practitioners now allow telehealth services, but some still require in-person visits first.

As for patients, the feedback seems to be overwhelmingly positive, thanks to the advantages of telehealth. For example, they explain that they feel much better knowing that they don’t have to go to the doctor’s office in person, and the appointment itself consists of just talking. At the doctors’ end, the telehealth model is more flexible because it allows them to provide personalized counseling for people who want to navigate getting a medical marijuana card in Missouri and other states.

Telehealth volume estimated to stay the same even after the pandemic

Digital transformation has taken by storm all industries in the past few months, medicine included, and advocates of virtual medical services say that the benefits of this model are too big to drop it after the pandemic ends. According to CDC data, the percentage of patients receiving telehealth services increased to 73% in the first months of the pandemic. Patients and healthcare providers alike had been asking for its widespread implementation for years, and now that we know it works, there’s no reason to go back to outdated practices. Not only has telehealth met the demand for MMJ evaluations, but it also revealed other key benefits that could influence the way patients interact and receive healthcare services.

  • Companies can use Big Data and analytics to predict the demand for medical marijuana and adapt their offer accordingly. Likewise, they can stay up to date with consumer trends and discuss with retails to see how they can get ready for these trends.
  • The industry can become more transparent and trackable, thanks to Blockchain. Transparency is an ever-present concern in the cannabis industry, and telehealth can finally address it. For instance, Blockchain can create a standardized space where the source and quality of medical marijuana can be verified.

Last but not least, digitization in healthcare can allow for better doctor education. In order to prescribe medical marijuana, doctors need to gain a certification first. In states where the use of medical marijuana is on the rise, such as Missouri, Florida, and Maryland, the demand from healthcare professionals is on the rise. Gaining the certificate online is much safer and convenient, enabling doctors to meet the expectations of modern patients. Of course, medicinal marijuana is a dynamic industry, and things can evolve in the following months but, based on current trends, it appears that it is here to stay.

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