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May 15, 2017 Issue

CEOCFO MAGAZINE

 

Telemedicine Platform Connects Physicians With Patients To Receive Certification to Purchase Medical Marijuana in Their State

 

 

Alex Milligan

Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer

 

NuggMD

www.getnugg.com/md

 

Contact:

Alex Milligan

(949)226-1452

alex@getnugg.com

 

Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – May 15, 2017

 

CEOCFO: Mr. Milligan, would you tell us about NuggMD?

Mr. Milligan: NuggMd is an online telemedicine platform that allows people to access medical marijuana in their state. Right now it is only available in California and New York, but we plan to expand to other states. NuggMD lets you visit our website, fill out a medical questionnaire, and upload documents, just like you would for a normal doctor’s visit in a physical location. But instead of seeing a doctor face-to-face, you video chat with one of our licensed physicians either in California or in New York from any internet connected device. They evaluate you for whatever condition or ailment you’re seeking treatment, and determine if medical cannabis can help. If it can, they’ll write you a recommendation, which arrives instantly in electronic form and then as a full-sized paper copy by mail. This certification grants access to whichever medical marijuana dispensaries exist in your state. The entire process takes anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes depending on how much information you would like from the doctor. What we’re trying to do is increase access for medical cannabis for people that don’t understand or are intimidated by how the process works. The goal for us is to make people's first experience and entry into the world of medical cannabis comfortable, safe and reliable.

 

CEOCFO: What were the regulatory hurdles?

Mr. Milligan: It differs by state. We launched in California in 2016. In California the regulatory variables are not as many as in some of the other states. We need medical cannabis laws that allow participation in a state medical marijuana program, and we need telemedicine laws that allow a doctor and a patient to establish a bona-fide doctor and patient relationship without any physical interaction. Those two factors are the main regulatory ones we have to consider. In New York the process is different in that once someone does get the certification from a doctor, they then have to approach the state health department directly to acquire a physical ID card. Having both documents will grant them access to the dispensaries of New York.

 

CEOCFO: Assuming someone has a chronic condition that they are seeking help for, how do you overcome the possibility that they may not tell your doctor everything or mention medications?

Mr. Milligan: I think there’s only so much you can do to mitigate that. Cannabis or otherwise, anyone can approach different doctors and disclose whatever information they like. It’s ultimately up to the patient to disclose anything that could interfere with a cannabis treatment. And patients who use NuggMD understand that our doctors are cannabis-friendly and want to help, so they don’t hold anything back. It’s common to feel intimidated at first, but once you realize our doctors want to educate and help improve your life, it’s easy to relax and get the information you need.

 

CEOCFO: How are your doctors able to keep up with all the new products so that you are able to give the right advice to your patients?

Mr. Milligan: The spectrum of products and innovations happening in this industry is incredible. Even still, the basic chemical properties and compounds of cannabis have been unchanged for generations. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are the most well-known, but at least 70 others exist. The medical benefits that these cannabinoids offer are relatively steady across the spectrum of different products. But that’s not to say there isn’t any variation. For instance, different application methods -- like the difference between smoking a cannabis flower versus applying a topical rub or transdermal patch -- can produce stronger or weaker effects, that last shorter or longer. But the nature of those effects are usually constant. Still, it’s important our partner physicians stay current with new research and products. We help by connecting doctors with the people behind the products, to conduct interviews and gather first-hand information that can then be distributed to our customer. The most important thing for our doctors is to stay at the forefront of whatever scientific and medical research there is around cannabis, which unfortunately is not much these days because it is still a schedule-1 drug according to federal law. The good news is we have heaps of anecdotal evidence. And when you’ve been a doctor helping patients with cannabis for ten or twenty years, even though there are new products coming out, you do have the experience to know and guide patients who are just beginning to use cannabis. It is really just getting that base level knowledge and then staying up to date with any upcoming and new medical and scientific evidence that might disprove, accentuate or shed light on something that we already know.

 

CEOCFO: Have others embraced your model?

Mr. Milligan: Definitely! There are a few other telemedicine type companies like ours in terms of connecting patients and doctors for the purpose of a medical cannabis evaluation. Most don’t provide good service, and we’ve even seen some illegal ones. They don’t connect you to a doctor and instead just send you illegitimate documentation in the mail with no evaluation. Luckily, with a little research most people are able to find a reliable service like ours. And we go a step further. Once someone has their doctor recommendation, we help connect them with a variety of vetted and trusted dispensaries in the state that will actually deliver to their address. They can visit our site to access an online cannabis marketplace. Just type in your address and you’re given a list of menus and dispensaries to order from, at least in California for now.

 

CEOCFO: How do you get people to click on your site?

Mr. Milligan: On the front of actually clicking to our site, we are a bit of an advantage. Through hard work and just the sheer volume of patients that we have been able to help and who advocate for us online, we’re at the top of Google for most searches related to medical marijuana evaluations. We’ve made it easy for people to find us and understand we’re a trusted service. On and off of our site, potential customers can find reviews from others who’ve used NuggMD, and once someone begins talking to one of our live customer service reps, it becomes a no brainer. Most of our growth has come from people and patients referring their friends and family simply because the process is so easy, simple and comfortable. I suppose this stands true for any industry, that to stand out from the crowd you need to deliver an incredible experience and solve people’s problems. If you do that, you don’t need a massive marketing budget, you just need to make people happy and give them the functional and emotional value that they are looking for. I think that is what sets us apart from some of the other companies. We put the customer first and make sure above all else that their needs are filled even long before our own. We will go out of our way to help a customer even if they decide not to use our platform or engage with our service. We just want to make sure that their cannabis journey is pleasant and informative and one that they can share with others.

 

CEOCFO: Are you seeking investment or partnerships as you continue to grow and look at new states?
Mr. Milligan:
I would say that partnerships are a big one. In New York, we’re talking with the registered organizations that I alluded to earlier. We’re trying to work closely with them to provide patients the right information as to which products they can access and which they should seriously consider. Ultimately what we would like to do is help patients choose the right products for them and order delivery online just like you can in California. We’re seeing that in New York that the average age of patients is a bit higher than in California. People are more frequently immobile and not able to drive to a storefront location. We think that delivery is going to be crucial for cannabis access in New York. As for investment, we’re not looking for any partners at this time. We’ve grown rapidly just by word of mouth, have kept our overhead and costs low, and profits have enabled us to pump money back into our operations. We may look for investors in the not-so-distant future to really ramp-up the expansion into new states. The bottom line is as a telemedicine portal and the online cannabis marketplace, we are just that, an online middleman connecting different parties in this industry. The nuts and bolts that go into that are intricate but the costs don’t have to be high as long as we’re making a concerted effort to stay lean.


 

“The goal for us is to make people's first experience and entry into the world of medical cannabis comfortable, safe and reliable.”- Alex Milligan


 

NuggMD

www.getnugg.com/md

 

Contact:

Alex Milligan

(949)226-1452

alex@getnugg.com



 



 

 


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