Do you know what telecontraception is?

Telecontraception is proving to be another option for women to access hormonal contraceptives. Several telecontraception vendors exist that connect patients—through a website or smartphone app—to prescription hormonal contraceptives. Virtual visits include a questionnaire that patients must fill out. Women can receive the prescription hormonal contraceptives at their local pharmacy after completing this questionnaire online.

The practice of telecontraception appears safe and may reduce barriers to hormonal contraception access because vendors are convenient and accessible, according to a research letter published September 26 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In a "secret shopper" study, researchers enlisted seven standardized patients, who subsequently requested oral contraceptives from nine telecontraception vendors during a collective 63 visits between October 2018 and March 2019. The volunteers either had traits representing various contraindications to oral contraceptives based on the Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use from CDC (CDC MEC), or they could not tolerate taking oral medication every day. A medical contraindication presented in 45 of the 63 encounters, but contraceptives were provided in only 3 of those visits. That equates to 93% adherence to CDC MEC guidelines, which suggests that telecontraception vendors may outperform clinics in this respect, according to the study authors. A prescription was sent to a local pharmacy electronically on the same day as the visit or mailed to the patient’s house within 7 days.

However, the authors added, the companies could do a better job of more aggressively screening for patient tolerance for daily ingestion of oral medication and educating patients on the availability of long-acting, reversible contraceptives.