One entrepreneur is blazing a new trail for telehealth: helping patients obtain medical cannabis ID cards.
HelloMD, a San Francisco-based startup, aims to offer consultations via smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer for patients seeking ID cards that allow them to buy medical-grade marijuana. The service is only available in California now, but HelloMD CEO Mark Hadfield says the company is working to expand to at least 23 states.
Patients in California can book an appointment with one of HelloMD's state-licensed doctors, who will evaluate their condition for up to 20 minutes. If advisable, the doctor will write a medical marijuana recommendation and a card can be sent the next day. The service costs $95 for new patients and $65 for renewing a card. The company's website promises “immediate access to appointments” and says its policies “exceed security and privacy settings set by the HHS for a health information exchange.”
Since medical marijuana and telehealth laws are different in every state, Hadfield said offerings will vary by location. Initially, the company will have to require in-person consults in some areas while those states update their telehealth laws to include a provision allowing medical marijuana consultations.
The service is convenient, sure, but it also anticipates future demand, Hadfield says. Demand for medical cannabis is expected to explode as more states legalize it and there aren't enough doctors who are comfortable making recommendations to patients, he said.
“The current way patients are being processed isn't efficient enough,” Hadfield said. “It's just not going to happen.”