The use of telecommunication techniques in the healthcare sector has gained traction in the past two decades. However, never before has the need for remote access to healthcare been so critically apparent to the wider community.
The need to travel in order to see a healthcare provider significantly impacts health outcomes for those in rural or remote areas and patients with any kind of disability or lower mobility.
With COVID-19 being a huge concern amongst the global population, the importance of telemedicine now and moving into the future is of extreme importance.
Implementing social distancing seems to be the path forward at this time and while Telehealth has relevance to the current medical climate, it is also a powerful tool in our medical arsenal for patients who are in the vulnerable group such as the immunocompromised or otherwise in ill health.
Irrelevant of the current health crisis, the advent of the medical cannabis landscape in a technologically connected world has allowed for this industry, in particular, to take full advantage of the benefits of Telehealth and provide a roadmap more generally for management of the chronically ill.
Telehealth is the use of telecommunication techniques such as phone and video-calls as a means to conduct healthcare services over a distance. This can involve diagnosis, treatment, preventative medicine and education for patients who would otherwise find it difficult to attend a healthcare venue or visit their local GP.
In a broader sense, Telehealth communication can be used by medical professionals for educational purposes and in cases where numerous practitioners need to collaborate regarding projects or specific patients.
The ability to provide healthcare information and assistance from a distance not only serves those patients that are at a geographical disadvantage but also fills a gap for patients whose social or cultural backgrounds make it difficult to find appropriate and accessible healthcare.
Notably in the medicinal cannabis industry, we have seen this well used to provide rural and remote patients with convenient and cost effective access to city-based specialist care. The Telehealth model also helps address the issue of healthcare access to patients who are often immuno-compromised or have physical difficulty attending a medical facility.
Additionally, in our time-poor society Telehealth has advantages to both medical professionals who are overburdened and under-resourced, as well as for patients who would otherwise forgo visiting their doctor due to time constraints and travel requirements.
As Covid-19 virus fears permeate our society, it is becoming increasingly clear that telemedicine is a keystone in the future of the healthcare sector as all patients continue to require treatment and management of chronic conditions, and as doctors look for solutions that minimize the risk to their patients.
With medicinal cannabis becoming more widely used in treating chronic illness, much can be learned from the industry approach to Telehealth. Since its inception, Telehealth and online consultations have been integrated into medical cannabis access, particularly in Australia, and as such are already well versed in managing patients via this medium.
Many of the Australian medical cannabis clinics, including CA Clinics, have Telehealth structures already in place with a large number of patient consultations conducted this way for both city and rural patients.
These online services make it simple and easy to be assessed by medical professionals, ascertaining patient suitability for medical cannabis, as well as providing ongoing care and monitoring of conditions and prescriptions. GPs can refer their patients for a Telehealth consultation here.
With the global community in the throes of a viral pandemic, telemedicine is a resource that can be utilised to great benefit, not only in the medical cannabis industry but also in low-risk instances where patients may need medical advice without the physical presence of a medical professional.
By employing telemedicine in the medical cannabis arena, as well as other sectors, we can facilitate social distancing to avoid the spread of COVID-19 and ease the burden on the wider healthcare sector, whilst still providing patients with necessary treatments that will increase their quality of life, especially in such uncertain times.