Telemedicine provision of medical abortion in Alaska: Through the provider’s lens
Grindlay K, Grossman D. Telemedicine provision of medical abortion in Alaska: Through the provider’s lens. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare. 2017 Aug;23(7):680-685
Introduction: Since 2011, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands has been providing medical abortion via telemedicine at several clinics in Alaska. The purpose of this study was to evaluate providers’ experiences with telemedicine provision of medical abortion in Alaska using qualitative methods. In particular, we aimed to learn more about the impacts of telemedicine on patients, staff, and clinic operations and potential lessons for other service delivery settings.
Methods: Between October and November 2013, eight in-depth interviews were conducted with clinic providers and staff who were involved with the provision of medical abortion using telemedicine at Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands clinics in Alaska. All interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim, and data were analysed qualitatively with inductive coding using grounded theory methods.
Results: Providers reported that telemedicine provision of medical abortion facilitated a more patient-centred approach to care where women were able to be seen sooner, have greater choice in abortion procedure type, and could be seen closer to their home. Providers felt that it was easy to integrate the new technology into clinic operations, and that a telemedicine visit largely required the same overall processes and clinic flow as an in-person visit, with minor additions related to technological set-up for the doctor interface.
Discussion: These findings are consistent with previously published literature on medical abortion provided via telemedicine, and indicate high acceptability among providers and the appropriateness for telemedicine application to this healthcare service.