OKLAHOMA CITY - Telemedicine technology has reached medical marijuana clinics in Oklahoma, giving potential patients a new way to get a consultation.
Telemedicine is already used by many healthcare professionals and companies to connect doctors with patients anywhere at almost any time via video chat.
"Telemedicine is like a medical grade Skype," said Larryn Workman. She's the clinic manager at Herba Verde Wellness Center in Oklahoma City. Instead of Skype, however, the clinic partnered with a company that specifically supplies video-chat available doctors.
"They are based out Oklahoma, some are based in other states, but they are all registered and certified for the state of Oklahoma," Workman said.
The clinic started the practice to better and more quickly reach patients who are homebound, the need brought into sharp focus after one heartbreaking case.
"We had had a patient that was terminal," Workman said, "and by the time we were able to clear our books, and actually get out to their property, they passed on before their card ever made it to them."
So even though the clinic still has a doctor on site some of the time, they also began using the telemedicine.
Workman said it benefits doctors more flexibility to work around their normal practices, but it also increases access. Herba Verde frequently takes its mobile clinic to communities around the state where there aren't always available qualified doctors. The telemedicine allows the mobile clinic to bring the doctors to these patients all over the state.
Emmanuel Rivera, a patient and first-time user of telemedicine said it was a little weird, but the visit went smoothly.
"When I left i kind of questioned, 'Oh, that was kind of different,'" Rivera said. "So it wasn't bad but it was a little different."
Meanwhile patient and veteran Byron Karhe has had experience with the technology, and said it was as easy and hassle-free as he hoped.
"He just looked it over. He said 'It seems like you're a good candidate for this program.,'" Karhe said of the doctor.