A study of telecontraception

Telecontraception—which conveniently allows women to receive prescription birth control at their local pharmacy after completing a questionnaire online—may widen access to these resources, but may not do enough to flag patients for contraindications.

Telecontraception—which conveniently allows women to receive prescription birth control at their local pharmacy after completing a questionnaire online—may widen access to these resources, but may not do enough to flag patients for contraindications. With this in mind, researchers launched a "secret shopper" study, the findings from which they report in a letter to the editor. The colleagues from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, Davis 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 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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, according to the study authors, suggests that telecontraception vendors may outperform clinics in this respect. However, they add, 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.