Breaking down barriers to birth control access: An assessment of online platforms prescribing birth control in the USA
Zuniga C, Grossman D, Harrell S, Blanchard K, Grindlay K. Breaking down barriers to birth control access: An assessment of online platforms prescribing birth control in the USA. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare. 2019. DOI: 10.1177/1357633X18824828. [Epub ahead of print]
Introduction: In the USA, the requirement that individuals obtain a prescription for hormonal contraception is a significant barrier for women who lack the time, finances, insurance coverage or means of transportation to visit a provider. The emergence of telemedicine services has removed some of these barriers by providing women with the opportunity to conveniently obtain birth control prescriptions through their computer or smartphone.
Methods: In this article, we compare the prescribing processes and policies of online platforms that prescribe hormonal contraceptives to women in the USA, and use the recommendations of the 2016 US medical eligibility criteria for contraceptive use to evaluate whether online prescribers are providing evidence-based care.
Results: As of February 2018, nine online platforms prescribed hormonal birth control to women across various states in the USA. These platforms varied in regard to their prescribing processes, range of methods offered, locations of operation, fees for services, and policies regarding age restrictions.
Discussion: An assessment of each platform’s online health questionnaire reveals that these telemedicine services are adequately screening for contraindications and safely providing birth control methods to patients, although efforts could be made to strengthen the rigour of online health questionnaires to ensure they adequately screen for all contraindications.