September 2022

An evaluation of telehealth provision of medication abortion across six states

Ibis Reproductive Health. Sept 2022.

The objective of this study was to compare acceptability between patients who received site-to-site telemedicine and in-person medication abortion services (teleMAB and in-person MAB, respectively) in 11 Planned Parenthood health centers across six states. In total, 712 patients completed a brief survey on the same day they received abortion care; of those, 246 (36%) also completed a two-week follow-up survey. Of the 712 people who completed the in-clinic survey, 358 were in-person MAB patients and 354 were teleMAB patients. Both in-person MAB and teleMAB patients were highly satisfied with the abortion services they received (71.2% and 80.5% respectively), though teleMAB patients were more likely than in-person MAB patients to report being highly satisfied (p<0.01). Among those who completed the follow-up survey, satisfaction remained high, as the majority of both groups reported they would seek the same care again if they needed an abortion in the future (73.2% in-person MAB and 83.3% teleMAB, p=0.9). Though most telemedicine patients said they felt comfortable interacting with the provider and technical issues were rare, almost a quarter (20.9%) of teleMAB patients reported that they would have preferred to be in the same room as their provider.

In the context of ever-increasing abortion restrictions in the United States, these findings indicate that site-to-site telemedicine care is an acceptable model and could be broadly adopted. However, in recognition of patients who would have preferred to be in the same room as the provider, telemedicine services should be expanded in concert with efforts to maintain or expand in-person medication abortion provision. Further research should explore the impact of telemedicine on the accessibility of abortion care and patient preferences as restrictions mount for both in-person and telemedicine provision of abortion services.