Telemedicine, which involves the use of electronic information and communications technologies to connect patients and healthcare providers, is becoming more and more popular and common around the world. It’s especially proving useful for medical marijuana patients, and this article will take a look at some of the unique telemedicine benefits for marijuana users.
What Is Medical Marijuana Telemedicine?
Before we look at the main medical marijuana telemedicine benefits, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what telemedicine actually is. Since it’s quite a new concept, many people are unfamiliar with the specifics of telemedicine or have questions about it, like “What is telehealth or telemedicine?”
In simple terms, telemedicine is when doctors and patients make use of modern technologies, like video calls or phone calls, to have their appointments and consultations online, rather than having to see each other in person.
So, when we talk about marijuana telemedicine, this refers to marijuana doctors speaking with their patients and issuing prescriptions or medical marijuana cards online, without the need for the patient to actually leave their home and visit the doctor’s clinic for in-person testing and evaluations.
What are the Benefits of Medical Marijuana Telemedicine for Patients and Healthcare Providers?
There are lots of telemedicine benefits to be enjoyed by both doctors and patients when used in conjunction with medical marijuana programs. Some of the best and biggest advantages include:
Improved Accessibility to Healthcare Services
Arguably the most important benefit of using telemedicine is how it improves accessibility to this vital healthcare service.
There are many patients who may have disabilities or personal circumstances that prevent them from visiting clinics or make it very difficult for them to seek traditional healthcare services. Telemedicine makes it all much easier for these patients, letting them get the care they need.
Increased Privacy and Confidentiality
When it comes to medical marijuana, some patients don’t necessarily want other people to know that they’re using this particular drug. They may want to obtain prescriptions and medical marijuana cards discreetly and confidentially.
Telemedicine can help with this in a big way. Through telemedicine services, patients can discreetly get the medical marijuana assistance they require from the comfort of their homes, without even having to step foot outside.
Time and Cost Savings
Telemedicine is also a huge time and money saver, both for patients and healthcare providers. Typically, if a patient wants to get an appointment with their doctor, they’ll need to make time in their schedule, potentially take time off work, and spend time and money getting to the clinic.
With telemedicine, all of those hurdles are removed. Patients can pick an appointment at a time and date that suits them best. They can then stay right at home for the appointment, without having to worry about any travel time or fuel costs.
Flexibility and Convenience
Telemedicine appointments are also much more flexible and convenient compared to traditional in-person evaluations. This is because it’s much easier to schedule telemedicine consultations at times that suit both doctors and their patients.
It’s also way more convenient for all concerned to simply open up a quick video call app and speak with one another, rather than the patient having to physically travel to the doctor’s office, wait in the waiting room, and go in to see them.
Improved Patient Engagement and Empowerment
Clinics that make use of telemedicine services have also noted a marked improvement in the levels of patient engagement. In other words, patients are much more likely to make appointments and seek professional healthcare if they can do it all easily online.
The advent of telemedicine has also empowered patients of all ages. It gives them the power to pick and choose when and how they want to consult with their doctors. And patients tend to feel more comfortable and confident when in their own homes, rather than at a doctor’s office.
Streamlined Documentation and Data Management
The whole documentation and data management side of healthcare has also been improved with the aid of telemedicine. Since everything is done digitally, there’s much less need for physical paperwork and less risk of documents being lost.
Appointments can be logged and tracked online via software systems, and all patient notes and file updates can also be added to the patient management system in real time.
Expanded Reach and Patient Base
Telemedicine can also expand the reach and broaden the patient base of a clinic. Typically, clinics may only receive patients who live within a few miles. But if you open up telemedicine as an option, patients who live much further away or in remote locations can access your services.
This is ideal for smaller clinics that are trying to grow, as well as new clinics that need to get as many patients as possible.
Potential for Research and Data Collection
There’s also a lot of potential for added data collection and research via telemedicine. For example, after an appointment or consultation, patients can be given a quick survey or feedback form, inviting them to share their thoughts on the experience. The data they provide can be used to improve the future standard of care.
As we can see, marijuana telemedicine can offer a wide array of benefits. Not only does it make things much easier and more convenient for the average patient, but it also provides so much more accessibility for patients who need marijuana treatment but aren’t usually able to access it via traditional means. With so many advantages, many patients hope that telemedicine will become even more commonplace across the U.S. and beyond in the years ahead.