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Annals of Family Medicine: Abortion providers leverage emerging telehealth technologies with implications for reproductive health administration – PR Newswire

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Jul 15, 2022, 10:11 ET
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Paper describes service operations for providing direct-to-patient medication abortion via telehealth across a range of medical settings.
ANN ARBOR, Mich., July 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Researchers examined remotely delivered medication abortion services developed in response to the disruption of health services caused by COVID-19. The paper, recently published in the Annals of Family Medicine, is titled, "Remote Delivery in Reproductive Health Care: Operation of Direct-to-Patient Telehealth Medication Abortion Services in Diverse Settings." It is available for free download.
By sharing how different health care organizations leveraged telemedicine, the authors argue that primary care providers will be better positioned for broader remote delivery of reproductive health services. Written prior to the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court, it provides an overview of how different providers approach abortion care, and potential options in accessing abortion and other reproductive services in the future.
The researchers surveyed clinicians and administrators operating telehealth abortion services in four practice settings: family planning clinics, online medical services, independent primary care practices, and those within multispecialty health systems. Across all settings, they found similar operational procedures for remote medication abortion services, with each site following five basic steps for care provision: patient engagement, care consultations, payment, medication dispensing, and follow-up communication.
Online services and independent primary care clinics offered e-visit consultations, communicating via an online questionnaire, and messaging and/or email with health professionals. Primary care clinics within multispecialty health systems offered only synchronous options for screening, scheduling, and patient-provider consultations. Asynchronous care models were more efficient, requiring two to three minutes compared to 10-30 minutes for a synchronous video visit. 
Surveyed clinics used multiple means of medication delivery, determined by the availability of onsite pharmacies and medication-dispensing protocols. Family planning clinics and health systems mailed medications from onsite pharmacies, while independent primary care providers and online services contracted with mail-order pharmacies. Independent practices were the only group that offered drop-off services for patients.
The authors assert their findings demonstrate the feasibility of offering abortion services in a variety of medical settings and highlight the potential variations that can be made to adapt reproductive health services to patient needs and existing clinical operations.
Remote Delivery in Reproductive Health Care: Operation of Direct-to-Patient Telehealth Medication Abortion Services in Diverse Settings
Anna E. Fiastro et al.
SOURCE Annals of Family Medicine
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