Study Finds Telehealth Is Effective For Abortion Medication Services

A recent study published in the Annals of Family Medicine has revealed that telehealth sufficiently supported abortion services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare sector was required to adapt alternative methods to deliver healthcare in order to prevent the spread of the virus. The result was an industry-wide adoption of telehealth services to provide treatment. As the use of telehealth is a relatively new concept, researchers across sought to investigate the outcomes of telehealth and whether it’s a viable alternative to in-person care across various types of treatment, including reproductive care. 

A study published in the Annals of Family Medicine examined how US clinics utilized telhealth abortion services, the effectiveness of the services and its benefits to patients. The data was collected from 20 clinical employees, from 14 different clinics. The clinics evaluated included primary care practices, primary care clinics within health systems, specialized family planning clinics, and online-based telehealth-only clinics. Each clinic provided remote medication abortion services through a similar five-step framework. These included engaging with clients, care consultation, financing, mailing out prescriptions, and post-care communication. The results of the study demonstrated that the five-step framework implemented by clinicians to deliver virtuals abortion services was reliable and efficent. 

The study also revealed that the environment had a significant impact on how the care was altered, especially in terms of whether virtual care occurred synchronously or asynchronously. In comparison to the 10 to 30 minutes it took for each synchronous virtual care session to finish, researchers discovered that asynchronous virtual care procedures were the fastest and most efficient, providing services in 2 to 5 minutes. Additionally, the researchers discovered that while standalone practices and web-based clinics frequently employed pharmacies to mail abortion medication, family planning clinics and primary care clinics located within healthcare systems depended on clinical inventories or internal pharmacies. 

The researchers concluded that clinicians should incorporate telehealth abortion services in order to provide a more comprehensive reproduction health service to patients and have recommended healthcare providers to consider adopting telehealth services to other medical services in circumstances where there is limited access to clinicians.