Throughout the healthcare industry, telemedicine technologies and services are becoming increasingly popular. Typically, these products provide ways for patients to interact with healthcare providers.
Telemedicine services can cover anything from a remote checkup to a remote visit to obtain a prescription.
And now, the trend is catching on in the medical marijuana space. While not all states allow for remote medical marijuana doctor’s visits, a growing number of them do.
Most recently, Oklahoma has seen a boom in the popularity of remote, telemedicine visits between patients trying to get their medical marijuana cards and physicians licensed to give recommendations.
And while many Oklahomans are embracing the introduction of telemedicine, some in the state’s medical marijuana industry have reservations.
Virtual Visits for Medical Marijuana Card Exploding in Popularity
As reported by news source The Register-Herald, Oklahoma is seeing a spike in the number of virtual doctor’s appointments for medical marijuana cards.
One of the telemedicine companies leading the charge is PrestoDoctor. The company offers virtual medical marijuana doctor’s visits to patients in Oklahoma, California, Nevada, New York, and Missouri. And their services have been exploding lately in Oklahoma.
“Every month there are just more and more people,” PrestoDoctor CEO Kyle Powers told The Register-Herald. “I think more and more people are finding out about the program.”
He added: “Everyone these days is too busy to take two hours out of your day to sit in a doctor’s office. It’s not very convenient when you can just do the appointment at home.”
PrestoDoctor currently has 15 to 20 licensed physicians in Oklahoma. And the company is now seeing so many patients that Powers said their doctors are meeting with more than 100 patients a day, six days a week.
What Happens in a Virtual Visit
Typically, a virtual visit consists of a patient going online to schedule an appointment. Then, they will usually meet with a licensed physician via video chat.
From there, it’s basically the same as any other doctor’s visit. The patient describes their symptoms and the physician makes a recommendation.
In Oklahoma, some virtual services also require patients to send their physician relevant medical records prior to the video chat appointment.
Currently, new patients in Oklahoma pay PrestoDoctor a $139 fee for the virtual visit. They then pay the state’s licensing fee on top of that to obtain their medical marijuana card.
Some Have Problems With Virtual Visits
While it appears that patients throughout Oklahoma are embracing virtual visits, some within the medical marijuana industry are voicing concerns.
For example, some doctors told The Register-Herald that there are sometimes wide variances in the fees charged by telemedicine companies.
Additionally, some doctors reported that different companies provide different levels of assistance in actually filing paperwork. And in some cases, patients can end up seeing delays in the process if they make a mistake in filing their application.
Finally, others involved with Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program voiced concerns over the relative lack of interpersonal connection between patients and remote doctors.
“I would prefer to see [the service] come up through clinics rather than individual physicians who are just trying to make a quick buck,” Chip Paul, who helped get medical marijuana legal in Oklahoma, told The Register-Herald. “The doctor-patient relationship is very important in our law [and] to me.”