Patient and provider experiences using a site-to-site telehealth model for medication abortion

September 2022

Patient and provider experiences using a site-to-site telehealth model for medication abortion

Ruggiero SP,  Seymour JW, Thompson TA, Kohn JE, Snow JL, Grossman D, Fix L. mHealth. September 2022. DOI: 10.21037/mhealth

In the site-to-site telehealth for medication abortion model, patients visit a health center to meet with a remote clinician using telehealth technology. This model is safe, effective, and acceptable to patients and providers. The objective of this study was to document the experiences of patients and providers using telehealth for medication abortion in Planned Parenthood health centers across different geographical contexts in the United States.

We conducted in-depth interviews with Planned Parenthood medication abortion patients who either met with a clinician at the clinic via telehealth or in-person about their experiences receiving care. We also interviewed Planned Parenthood staff members about their experiences implementing telehealth for medication abortion at their health center.

We interviewed 29 patients who received care at Planned Parenthood health centers in five states. Both telehealth and in-person patients described positive interactions with health center staff and clinicians. The vast majority of telehealth patients said that they felt comfortable speaking with the clinician over telehealth and had no trouble using the telehealth technology. We interviewed 12 providers, including clinicians and administrative staff, who worked in seven states. Providers largely thought that telehealth for medication abortion expanded access to medication abortion.

Across different locations, our findings indicate that patients found telehealth for medication abortion services to be highly acceptable and providers found that telehealth services may help improve medication abortion access. As the use of telehealth for medication abortion expands, future research should include additional measures of quality to ensure that services are acceptable across different identities and experiences, including age, race, gender, and income level.