Online Medical Marijuana Evaluations Via Telemedicine – when a viral pandemic yielded smart government policy
In the Summer of 2015, a small Colorado-based group of trail blazers in the medical cannabis space launched Telerecs.com, Colorado State’s first and only online medical marijuana evaluation platform. Popularity of the service soared. Patients were intrigued by the ease of access; especially those living far away from MMJ evaluation centers or those with debilitating conditions for whom it was difficult to get around in the first place. Each day, more and more patients were flocking to the platform with virtually zero advertising; word of mouth alone drove the popularity and immediately proved the concept that this completely unmet demand was high, indeed.
“Well of course the popularity of this would soar. It only makes perfect sense that people with debilitating conditions like chronic/disabling pain, advanced cancer with cachexia, and HIV/AIDS would prefer to see their doctor from the comfort of their own home and not be made worse by having to travel, sit in a clinic and wait for the doctor to see them just to accomplish what can 100% be accomplished remotely via a video-enabled telemedicine visit,” says the founder of Telerecs.com. “The service was not just taking the burden off the patient, but also off the care-takers of the patients who often had to accompany the patient physically to all of their appointments.”
The whole endeavor made so much sense that the founders began to wonder why nobody else was providing this much-needed service. They found out quite quickly when, just in their second month of providing online evaluations, Colorado State shut down the operation citing regulation C.R.S. 25-1.5-106(2)(a.5)(I), which basically states that, while telemedicine is a widely accepted practice in the State, there is a carve-out for its utility in when it comes to physician evaluations for medical cannabis. Invitation to make your own conclusions here. But if you ask us, without opening up a raging debate, we feel it simply boiled down to the sad realization that politics had once again interfered with safe and effective delivery of healthcare to a vulnerable patient population. Victims paying the highest price for this regulation, as is the case with virtually all nonsensical political decisions involving healthcare; THE PATIENTS.
Fast forward to the year 2020, enter COVID19…stage WORLD, and the desperate need for government to issue emergency regulations to limit social, person-to-person, exposures whenever humanly possible/necessary. Times of crisis very often yield policy changes that would have made sense even in non-critical times; necessity is the mother of invention, where government defines necessity in terms of urgency/emergency. Fair enough! As of March 20, 2020, Governor Polis temporarily suspended the regulation that prevented physicians from providing medical marijuana evaluations via telemedicine. Thank you, Governor Polis! I’m not sure you are aware of the positive change that this suspension has rendered for the more than 80,000 card holders State-wide. But on behalf of myself, my thousands of patients, and physicians/clinics in the industry, we want to thank you, sincerely, for this decision. And while we hope the regulation will extend beyond the crisis, that conversation is beyond the scope of this article.
For the past 5 years, since attempting to offer the much needed telemedicine platform to medical marijuana patients, Telerecs.com founders have been providing physician evaluations for medical cannabis to about a quarter of Colorado’s medical marijuana card holders through physical face-to-face visits with doctors working in specially designated MMJ clinics and evaluation centers. Now partnered with Medical Alternatives Clinics, Telerecs.com, which also offers access to primary care and sleep medicine consultations, has enabled a seamless integration of video-enabled online telemedicine medical marijuana evaluations available since March 20th, 2020 (well, since 2015 if we want to get technical, with a 5 year break). Just be careful! “Telemedicine” does not mean “over the phone”. There are already clinics/doctors offering telephone-only evaluations, which DO NOT MEET the State’s telemedicine guidelines. If a doctor offers you a card by doing a telephone interview, this does not meet telemedicine guidelines in the State of Colorado and can render your evaluation invalid. Currently, our attorneys are saying that in order to comply with State telemedicine guidelines, a video session is required as part of the telemedicine evaluation.
At Medical Alternatives Clinics, our patients can now schedule a video-enabled online telemedicine appointment with one of our physicians. Appointments are available every day and with extended hours. You don’t have to be in Colorado Springs or Pueblo; any patient in any part of the State of Colorado can now access the online telemedicine evaluation platform here. It is hassle free compared to in-person visits and evaluations; no paperwork, no taking time off from work or other essential activities, no driving to and from the clinic, no waiting for the doctor, no waiting to check out. Sign up is very quick and very easy. To say that our patient feedback has been unanimously positive is a gross understatement. Everybody LOVES it! The benefits and conveniences gained by this policy change so far outweigh any downsides, that it is an absolute no-brainer. Relevant to the now, it prevents unnecessary person-to-person contact. Relevant to the always, patient safety, convenience, and comfort (as mentioned in detail above) is the primary objective being met. Additionally, however, it also allows Medical Alternatives to offer extended physician hours since the usual clinic operations are no longer a limiting factor.
Join Medical Alternatives Clinics and Telerecs and get your medical marijuana card online right now by clicking here and seeing one of our physicians.
Things our patients have said about the new service in just the first 2 days:
“This is amazing!”
“This was really easy and stress free!”
“Thank you all for being creative and accommodating to your patients during this time”
“So much easier than the in-office visit”
“Infinitely easier than seeing the doctor in person. Thank you!”
It’s unfortunate that sometimes it takes a world-scale healthcare crisis to see policy changes that would benefit patients even in the absence of such a crisis. While we all deeply regret the circumstances that fueled this policy change, we at Medical Alternatives Clinics have been lobbying for this change for many years and are obviously super-excited to be on the front lines in offering the now law-conforming MMJ telemedicine service and enable patients to safely, comfortably, and conveniently access physician care for their medical cannabis needs.
Book your online appointment here: Medical Alternatives Clinics Online