TelAbortion: Evaluation of a Direct to Patient Telemedicine Abortion Service in the United States
- June 3rd, 2019
- Medication Abortion
- Raymond, E., Chong, E., Winikoff, B., Platais, I., Mary, M., Lotarevich, T., Castillo, P.W., Kaneshiro, B., Tschann, T., Fontanilla, T., Baldwin, M., Schnyer, A., Coplon, L., Mathieu, N., Bednarek, P., Keady, M.. Priegue, E.
This article was the recipient of a 2020 Daniel Mishell Outstanding Article award.
Contraception; June 03, 2019; Vol. 100(3):173-177; doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.contraception.2019.05.013
Objectives: To evaluate the safety, feasibility, and acceptability of a direct-to-patient telemedicine service that enabled people to obtain medical abortion without visiting an abortion provider in person.
Study design: We offered the service in five states. Each participant had a videoconference with a study clinician and had pre-treatment laboratory tests and ultrasound at facilities of her choice. If the participant was eligible for medical abortion, the clinician sent a package containing mifepristone, misoprostol, and instructions to her by mail. After taking the medications, the participant obtained follow-up tests and had a follow-up consultation with the clinician by telephone or videoconference to evaluate abortion completeness. The analysis was descriptive.
Results: Over 32 months, we conducted 433 study screenings and shipped 248 packages. The median interval between screening and mailing was 7 days (91st percentile 17 days), and no participant took the mifepristone at ≫71 days of gestation. We ascertained abortion outcomes of 190/248 package recipients (77%): 177/190 (93%) had complete abortion without a procedure. Of the 217/248 package recipients who provided meaningful follow-up data (88%), one was hospitalized for postoperative seizure and another for excessive bleeding, and 27 had other unscheduled clinical encounters, 12 of which resulted in no treatment. A total of 159/248 participants who received packages (64%) completed satisfaction questionnaires at study exit; all were satisfied with the service.
Conclusions: This direct-to-patient telemedicine abortion service was safe, effective, efficient, and satisfactory. The model has the potential to increase abortion access by enhancing the reach of providers and by offering people a new option for obtaining care conveniently and privately.
Implications: Provision of medical abortion by direct-to-patient telemedicine and mail has the potential to increase abortion access by increasing the reach of providers and by offering people the option of obtaining abortion care without an in-person visit to an abortion provider.