July 12, 2010

Montana Caregivers Network Making Changes

July 12, 2010
old lady

For the last year, many Montanans have received their medical marijuana approval via the ‘Montana Caregivers Network (MCN).’ The organization used a business model that involved traveling to various locations around the state and signing up patients the same day they came in with their medical records. As a result of the efficiency of this model, the Montana medical marijuana program ballooned in recent times. Unfortunately, not everyone was happy about seeing qualified patients get their non-pharmaceutical-industry medicine…

Here is a media report out of Montana that I just read:

“BILLINGS – A Montana advocacy group shut down its traveling medical marijuana clinics. The move comes after complaints it is contributing to the state’s list of registered users. The Montana Caregiver’s Network hosts monthly one day clinics across the state. Medical marijuana card seekers were charged $150 to see a doctor. Starting next week the group will only provide regular doctors office hours to people in Billings, Bozeman, Helena and Missoula. Traveling clinics helped the medical marijuana patient registry go from 842 people to 20,000 in fewer than two years.”

The article is a little misleading. The MCN has not ’shut down its traveling medical marijuana clinics.’ They have simply tweaked where they go, and how high profile the events are. Here is the new model, as stated on MCN’s website:

“MCN has announced a new service called CannabisCare Clinics, which allows caregivers to participate in hosting Doctors for patient visits, in-house and in-person, anywhere in Montana.

With renewals expected to top 10,000 by October of this year, MCN has changed its model from travelling clinics to direct visits with Doctors via local Caregivers, to anticipate the upcoming flood of renewals and simultaneously recommending to new patients. MCN will also host ‘Caregiver Expos’ every other month, starting in August, so patients can make a side-by-side comparison of caregivers, growers can talk about the new strains they are developing and everyone interested in medical cannabis can network with others. Some booth fees apply.

Free to Caregivers, a CannabisCare Clinic allows them to charge a nominal fee to a patient for the service, if they choose, while remaining flexible for low income. This gives Caregivers an additional income stream, and provides them the opportunity to form a better relationship with their new patient, while MCN can still manage all medical records, patient notes, billing, physician statements, and all customer service issues regarding getting their card. Caregivers are able to focus on their main job, helping patients with effective medicine.

Caregivers can host these CC Clinics and invite other caregivers in their area to participate. This helps bring patients together, creating a community and educating patients and caregivers. MCN has seen 16,000 patients in the last year for their cards, and has become incredibly adept at hiring physicians specializing in recommending medical cannabis and managing all of the functions of a call center and specialized clinic. Always under improvement, the new direct model has near future plans to allow Caregivers to use WeedWareâ„¢. Among the new modules of this new online system are Patient Management, Grow Control and Strain Planning, which will help Caregivers become efficient with near-perfect quality control. Currently, many functions are performed manually, and while still very effective, can be improved by the strategic use of technology.”

Whether or not these changes will help or hurt the public perception of MCN, only time will tell…I still offer an open invitation for MCN to contact me directly, and help get their word out. E-mails to their staff and director have gone unanswered…


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