Telehealth – Access to Care When it's Needed

At the American Telemedicine Association meeting this week in Los Angeles, American Well, a large provider of online medical visits, announced a new app to help physicians take advantage of Telehealth. One way is to see patients live in high-definition video. While not being new by itself, the fact that they are able to get reimbursement from insurers such as UnitedHealthCare, indicates that it is becoming more acceptable as “standard of care”.

Insurers are realizing that by doing this they are reducing unnecessary costs and waits by having patients do one-on-one interviews at their convenience. The thought is by enabling doctors to engage with patients, it could ease the qualms of states like Texas, Arkansas and Idaho, which have sought to restrict telemedicine providers like American Well, Teladoc and Doctor on Demand, because their primary business involves treating patients they’ve never seen before. What the states are beginning to realize is that Telehealth is INCREASING access to care to patients who before had no physicians, or the specialty of physician, near to them.

For medical marijuana recommendations that hold true even more. Access to care for the patients who can benefit from cannabis can be difficult if not impossible. The availability of physicians who can knowledgeably evaluate patients to see if medical marijuana can help them can be sparse. With the ability to evaluate patients using their computer or phone, access can be provided anywhere the patient and physician are.

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