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This Telemedicine Platform Was Used for Cannabis. Now It’s Used For Coronavirus.

One company is pledging to help patients and medical professionals during the coronavirus pandemic with telemedicine services.

A telemedicine company is helping  provide more healthcare options to patients who are social distancing, as hospitals become overburdened because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Heally is a telemedicine platform that was initially developed for use in the medical cannabis industry to assist patients in getting medical cannabis cards. The platform’s CEO says it has now mobilized more than 350 doctors to see patients virtually, or to just diminish their fears about potential COVID-19 infections.  

“You know, there’s an impending crisis,” said Greg Rovner, CEO of Heally. “The stress on the healthcare system is gonna be unfathomable, and as such, telemedicine platforms that are mobilizing to do the same thing right now are gonna greatly reduce the strain on that.”

As COVID-19 continues spreading and more people self-isolate, hospitals are not prepared for the influx of patients. 

“Telemedicine gives people the opportunity to stay at home and not leave the house,” Rovner said. “And that’s what’s critical, because that reduces the strain, that reduces the backup in the emergency rooms. That keeps hospital beds open for people that really, really need them.”

The physicians working on Heally can’t diagnose patients with COVID-19, but Rovner said they can give patients advice on next steps, according to Rovner. 

“A lot of the symptoms of COVID-19 can be mild and can be just rode out at home,” said Rovner.  “And, so telemedicine gives patients the ability to not panic, not get scared—connect with a medical professional and find out what their true next steps are.” 

In some cases, the next steps might be to go to a physical doctor. Heally’s regional physicians follow local health department guidelines to advise the patient. 

Heally’s increased efforts are part of a broader rise of telemedicine as a response to the coronavirus outbreak. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have recommended that health care providers lean on telemedicine when possible to minimize their usage of hospital space and personal protective equipment. 

On March 4, The House of Representatives signed a $8.3 billion emergency aid package that provided $500 million in telemedicine services for Medicare recipients. The bill became law on March 6.

Rovner said that during this trying time,Heally is allowing physicians who don’t typically use telemedicine to sign up for the service for free in order to keep people out of their offices. 

“If there’s doctors in clinics that are out there that don’t currently have a telemedicine tool, the other part of our platform is that we’re deploying our software for doctor’s offices,” he said. “During this time period, we are deploying those services for free.”