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Research project

Telemedicine to Improve Access to Abortion Care

The practice of telemedicine—accessing care remotely from a doctor or nurse via phone or teleconference to address a health need—is a rapidly growing segment of the healthcare landscape.  Forbes recently called it a “game-changer for patients.” ANSIRH partners with Ibis Reproductive Health on work that explores the potential of telemedicine to improve access to abortion care.

In 2008, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Iowa launched a telemedicine service to provide medication abortion care at rural clinics. Ibis evaluated this service and found that telemedicine provision of medication abortion is safe, effective, and acceptable to women and providers. Ninety-nine percent of telemedicine patients had a successful abortion, and adverse events, such as going to the emergency room or needing a blood transfusion, were rare, occurring among 1% of patients seen either by telemedicine or in a face-to-face physician visit. While satisfaction with the abortion was high among all patients (91% reported they were ‘very satisfied’), telemedicine patients were more likely to report they would recommend the service to a friend compared with face-to-face patients. This work also showed that telemedicine availability resulted in women accessing abortion services at earlier gestational ages and increased access to services for women living in remote parts of the state.

Researchers will continue to explore the ways in which telemedicine can be used to expand and improve access to quality abortion care, including its use to expand access to contraceptive and abortion care for women in the U.S. Military. To learn more about this project or to stay up-to-date with research developments, please visit the Ibis project page.

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ANSIRH is a program within the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health and is a part of UCSF's Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences.

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