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Understanding the Growing Impact of Telemedicine in the Family Planning Sector

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What does Telemedicine have to offer which an in house doctor cannot? This may not be the ideal question when you search the word Telemedicine on the internet. Physically checking with the doctors is obviously more comforting, but think about the odds.

What if you cannot move around and reach out to a doctor when an emergency arises? What if the best doctor is available 27 miles away at the middle of the night? What if you have no gas in your car and there is no Uber available? THEN, Telemedicine has the biggest impact on you.

Not only the people from remote areas can benefit from the service, also the veterans can contact their therapists via their computers thus avoiding the stigma of showing up to a doctor’s. Even inmates are benefitting from the telemedicine service which is used in the prisons recently. Family planning sector is also getting exposure to Telemedicine.

But on procedure which could be easily administrated via telemedicine is rather widely unavailable, that is termination of pregnancy. Only three states in the US are allowed to do abortions via telemedicine that are Maine, Iowa & Minnesota.

The family planning sector is comparatively new in Telemedicine. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, in 2008 started offering abortions via telemedicine. How does it work? A pregnant woman goes through an Ultrasound and few lab tests after contacting the expert nurse or medical staff. Then she goes for a teleconferencing with a physician and local clinician and they discuss whether medically stimulated abortion is safe for her. If the answer is positive, then in the presence of the doctor, the woman takes a pill in the clinic and takes another one after 24-48 hours later, this time at home.

In most cases, it was observed that most women prefer abortion earlier in the pregnancy. It allows them to get the abortion done with the help of medicine rather than going under the knife. Women, especially in rural areas who seek abortion, find it difficult to miss work; also they need to travel if the procedure is done in a clinic. The entire cost has been paid by them. Telemedicine offers help in these cases.

But the introduction of Telemedicine did not increase the number of abortions in these three states, rather the number has decreased. The national trend indicates that abortions are decreasing all over the country.

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