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Advances in MMJ:  MJBizCon Las Vegas 2018

Congratulation to MJBiz for a successful conference in Las Vegas.  The turn-out was astounding.

In the Key Note address, Torsten Keunzlen from SunDial, perfectly captured this time in the growth of MMJ as a legitimate treatment for a host of medical conditions. Paraphrasing, Mr. Keunzlen stated:

The Cannabis Industry is at a turning-point, and we in the industry, have a decision to make in terms of where we want this industry to go. Until the Cannabis Industry takes it self seriously, how can we expect the medical industry to do so?

As we have discussed before, the social and legal acceptance of MMJ has far out-paced the science. This lack of hard science and large clinical trials has often been used as an excuse for why the medical community is resistant to MMJ.  Why this is a contributing factor, our research[1]has found that the lack of studies is only one of many issues physician give for their resistance.  Another barrier to recommending MMJ is the perception that the MMJ industry does not take the medicinal properties of cannabis seriously, but rather, are more interested in promoting a recreational culture.

While attending MJBizCon in Vegas, we saw much evidence to the contrary.  One of these advances which will help legitimize MMJ for physicians is the development of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems.

Electronic medical records (EMRs) are digital versions of the paper charts in clinician offices, clinics, and hospitals. EMRs contain notes and information collected by and for the clinicians in that office, clinic, or hospital and are mostly used by providers for diagnosis and treatment. EMRs are more valuable than paper records because they enable providers to track data over time, identify patients for preventive visits and screenings, monitor patients, and improve health care quality[2].

Over the past 2 decades EMR systems have been widely implemented in most large medical practices and hospital systems, and physicians have become reliant on them to diagnose and treat a host of conditions.  In our recent studies1, two-thirds (67%) of physicians currently recommending MMJ and one-third (34%) of physicians currently resistant to recommending MMJ say they would be encouraged to do so if they had more detailed information about the strain or brand of MMJ that is most likely to benefit their patients.

By developing MMJ-focused EMRs, it demonstrates to physicians that the MMJ industry is committed to finding the best solutions for their patients. In addition, while not as valuable as clinical trial outcomes, EMRs provide physicians with reliable and validated data regarding the benefits of specific stains attained by relevant patients.  This guidance is sorely needed, as one-fourth (25%) of physicians currently have no reliable source of information to which they turn for MMJ information.

As EMR systems are built, physicians will look for various features in deciding their clinical value:

  • Predictive Validity– With what degree of confidence can an EMR reliably guide physicians (and patients) towards a specific strain?
  • Construct Validity– Do experts in the Medical and Cannabis fields agree on the benefits of particular strains for specific clinical conditions?
  • Ease of Use– Will the Cannabis EMR integrate into existing Medical EMR systems? In particular, will these systems base recommendations according to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10)?

In order for physicians to seriously consider MMJ for their patients, they need to be educated regarding the clinical, logistical and legal aspects of cannabis. Currently, most physicians are making decisions about MMJ based on anecdotal evidence and spotty data from consumer-focused resources.  The implementation of EMRs is a significant step towards closing the knowledge-gap among physicians.

[1]  Clinical realities of MMJ for Pain in the USA:  Cannalytic Insights, October 2018.  https://cannalyticinsights.com/mmjinsights/

Clinical Realities of MMJ for Cancer in the USA: Cannalytic Insights, October 2018. https://cannalyticinsights.com/mmjinsights/

[2]What are the differences between electronic medical records, electronic health records, and personal health records?: HealthIT.gov, March 2018.  https://www.healthit.gov/faq/what-are-differences-between-electronic-medical-records-electronic-health-records-and-personal

John Taenzler

John Taenzler

John Taenzler, Ph.D. Partner & Chief of Research

Dr. Taenzler earned his doctorate in experimental neuropsychology from Clark University in 1995, where he served as an associate professor and departmental statistical consultant for various universities in the Boston area. He has worked as a research consultant in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry for more than 20 years, including Executive Vice President in a large, global marketing research company (GfK) and Founder/Principal in two custom research organizations (Evolution Consulting & Research and Jaunty Consulting).

Dr. Taenzler has conducted global pharma/biotech research in over 30 countries and is well-versed in the healthcare regulatory issues and government agencies that provide and oversee healthcare services. Dr. Taenzler has conducted research in nearly every area of healthcare including:
• Pharmaceuticals (most notably in the therapeutic areas of auto-immune disease, oncology, respiratory disease, pain-related syndromes, gastrointestinal disorders, psychiatric disorders)
• Hospitals/long-term care facilities (including disease management, robotics, pharmacy operations)
• Healthcare professionals (including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technicians)
• Patients (including caregivers)
• Supply chain organizations (including specialty pharmacy, retail and hospital pharmacies, pharmaceutical distributors)
• Medical Appliance/Drug Delivery Devices (including inhalers, transdermal systems, injection devices, human factors testing and mitigation strategies)
• Payors/Managed care (including P&T committee composition, sales force targeting, disease/case management, coverage issues).

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