President of Pathway Health
Chronic pain robs people of their quality of life. It reduces activities of daily living, including reduced productivity at work and school. It decreases mental and emotional health and increases health care utilization. According to the 2019 Canadian Pain Task Force Report, one in five Canadians lives with chronic pain. But Pathway Health, one of the largest providers of out-of-hospital pain management services in Canada, is leading the change in the way people with chronic pain are treated.
Pathway Health, one of the largest providers of pain management in Canada and the largest medical cannabis service provider in the country, uses a comprehensive approach to care. This, along with timely access to a team of trained health professionals through the convenience of telemedicine is helping to achieve optimal health outcomes.
Chronic pain is a massive issue and the burden of disease in North America is increasing due to an aging population and some current treatments that are causing more harm than good.
Finding effective pain relief
“Chronic pain is a massive issue and the burden of disease in North America is increasing due to an aging population and some current treatments that are causing more harm than good,” says Dr. Mark Kimmins, physician lead for medical cannabis at Pathway Health. “It’s going to require careful, targeted approaches like what we’re doing, and medical cannabis is a big part of this.”
Traditionally, opioids have been used for chronic pain management, but with opioid addiction and an overdose crisis, medical cannabis is for many patients a safer alternative. “More people are asking for cannabis, and I’m finding that those who are using it are using fewer medications,” says Dr. Kimmins.
With the proliferation of cannabis stores in Canada, there is a tendency for those suffering from chronic pain to want to self-medicate, but Dr. Kimmins cautions there is a difference between recreational and medical cannabis. “What you want in medical cannabis is relief of pain, not impairment. Understanding the right product and dosage and having guidance from a physician or nurse practitioner, who can personalize your treatment is critical,” he says. “The likelihood of someone getting better without a healthcare practitioner is low. Medical cannabis won’t be the best treatment for everyone, but it should always be considered.”
Personalized and holistic approach to health care
Ken Weisbrod an expert in cannabis and its use for those with chronic pain, believes more needs to be done to improve access to medical cannabis, so it loses its stigma and becomes a mainstream therapy. He credits organizations, such as Pathway Health for its personalized and holistic approach to treatment. “They’ve done an amazing job. Their doctors work with primary care physicians and other care providers to provide a circle of care that considers all aspects of the patient’s health.”
As the largest provider of medical cannabis services in Canada, exclusively through telemedicine, Pathway Health’s value proposition is that it’s the one-stop-shop for interdisciplinary chronic pain management that includes connecting patients with physio, chiro, massage therapy and mental health supports, along with home and personal healthcare products.
Cannabis Health Products, or CHPs, represent a new category of health products that is expected to be introduced by the federal government in the next round of changes to the Cannabis Act. The Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy (IFSD) at the University of Ottawa estimates the potential consumer market size for CHPs could be more than $2 billion by 2023. Partnering with clinics, pharmacies, insurance companies and other stakeholders, and developing a proprietary distribution network for CHPs, Pathways Health is creating a convenient and seamless patient experience focussed on increased health outcomes.