A direct‐to‐patient telemedicine abortion service in Australia
- June 1st, 2016
- Staff Publication
- Medical Abortion
- Raymond, Elizabeth G., Chong, Erica, Hyland, P.
Background: In 2015, the Tabbot Foundation launched a nationwide direct‐to‐patient telemedicine service to enable women to obtain medical abortion without visiting an abortion provider.
Aims: We aimed to describe results from the first 18 months of this service.
Materials and Methods: To have an abortion through the Foundation, a woman obtained screening tests locally and had a telephone consultation with a Foundation doctor. If she was eligible, mifepristone, misoprostol and other medications were sent to her by mail. After taking the drugs, the woman obtained follow‐up tests at local facilities and had a consultation with Foundation professionals. The Foundation charged $250 to patients with Medicare eligibility and $600 otherwise. We summarised clinical data collected by the service.
Results: Between June 2015 and December 2016, 1010 women received medications, of whom 56% lived outside of major cities. Ninety‐five percent of packages were sent within 15 days after registration. Of the 965 women who took misoprostol, outcomes were definitively documented for 754 (78%), of whom 96% had a complete abortion without surgical intervention, and 95% had no face‐to‐face clinical encounter after treatment. Of women with Medicare cards, 72% paid no out‐of‐pocket charges other than to the Foundation. Nearly all women (781/802; 97%) were highly satisfied.
Conclusions: The direct‐to‐patient telemedicine medical abortion service was effective, safe, inexpensive and satisfactory. It disproportionately served women in parts of Australia with limited access to abortion facilities. This experience may be instructive for others desiring to use telemedicine to enhance access to abortion.
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