Telemedicine revolutionizing the medical cannabis industry

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Telemedicine is revolutionizing the cannabis industry and as a result, companies like NamasteMD can provide patients more accessibility to medical cannabis than ever before. (123rf)

Telemedicine is a relatively new way to receive health-care that came about with advancements in telecommunication and information technologies. While itwas traditionally used for people in rural areas and those with disabilities, who were house-bound, for instance, today, this is changing. Telemedicine is becoming increasingly popular with people who have busy lifestyles, such as working professionals or even parents who want to help another family member, but have to work around a demanding schedule. For them, telemedicine offers a viable alternative to having to take time off work to visit their family doctor. But what is really exciting about telemedicine, according to Tom Neilly, project manager for NamesteMD, is that people can now get an above-board, doctor-approved prescription or approval for medical cannabis.

“Telemedicine is essentially revolutionizing the cannabis industry,” Neilly says, adding that NamasteMD is now working with Canadians to help them facilitate the requirements of obtaining a legitimate medical cannabis prescription.

“We find that many people prefer our service over going to their family physician for a variety of reasons,” he says. For example, some people in a small community might be embarrassed to go to their doctor and ask for medical cannabis (despite it being legal in Canada since 2001). There is still such a stigma attached to cannabis that often prevents people from even investigating cannabis as a health-care option. “There are also situations in which some doctors simply won’t prescribe medical cannabis [for whatever reason], so patients are not even given that choice, even if they ask for it because other medications are simply not working,” Neilly adds.

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“A lot of people also come to us because they want to help their kids or their parents while they are visiting them. Through our service, they can sit down with a loved one and talk — via phone or video-conference — with a doctor about medical cannabis, and together, they will be walked through the process, all without having to take time off work or out of their busy schedule,” he says.

NamasteMD is an innovative platform that connects doctors with patients. “We work with regulated cannabis clinics across the country to carry out the medical end of the process. This is where companies like NamasteMD are finding the most success. “We are not only trying to help people, but we are changing the way we do that, while raising the standards of telemedicine,” Neilly explains.

NamasteMD currently only operates in Canada to connect patients with doctors and nurses. What sets them apart from other telemedicine operations, according to Neilly, is that they are very safety focussed. They also have an easy to use free app patients can download or an online system available on any web browser.

“We use video-conferencing to confirm someone’s identity and age. We also offer this service for free, something no one else is doing right now,” says Neilly, who adds NamasteMD is allowing people more accessibility to medical cannabis than ever before.

“Many of our clients are veterans and 25- to 40-year-olds that are trying to medicate themselves for reasons such as work stress, anxiety, ADHD or other issues that traditional medication hasn’t been able to resolve, and that cannabis has been shown through studies to help with. More commonly, we find people are trying to persuade their parents or grandparents to look into cannabis as a health-care option for pain and things like that. Alternatively, they may be trying to help their kids and are too embarrassed to ask their family doctor about using medical cannabis,” says Neilly. “I think a lot of people still feel there is a huge stigma about cannabis, that only people that want to get high use it. But there is a big difference between recreational cannabis, which has high THC (the psychoactive component in cannabis that causes a ‘high’) and medical cannabis, which mostly contains CBD and negligible THC and doesn’t make people high, but has been found in small-scale studies to have beneficial properties for some people.”

How NamasteMD works

To use the NamasteMD service, you need to start by downloading the app or you can use the online version to enter your medical information. You will then be promoted to pick an appointment slot that suits your schedule. “Right now, we are offering up to 70 appointments a day across the platform, but there is real scalability with our service, there can be up to 500 plus available appointments every day, given the rising demand,” says Neilly.

Once you pick a time slot, you will have a call or video-conference with a doctor/nurse, who is licensed to work in your area. The doctor will verify you are a real person and that your ID is legitimate and belongs to you. They will also ask you a series of questions, which are designed to ensure the user is eligible and can benefit from being prescribed medical cannabis. “The video system makes it a safe, legal and legitimate environment for patients who actually need medical cannabis,” Neilly says.

All doctors are from Canadian Cannabis Clinics, and they can help eligible Canadians in all provinces to get a medical cannabis prescriptionusing a smartphone or PC, according to Neilly.

For more information, visit namastemd.com. You can also download the app through the Apple store and Google Play.

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