Telemedicine might improve post-abortion care, study suggests

Increasing the number of rural Medicaid abortion providers and reimbursing providers for care delivered via telemedicine might improve follow-up care after abortions, according to a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The researchers analyzed claims data from 39,747 abortions covered by California's Medicaid program in 2011 and 2012 to determine the likelihood of a patient seeking follow-up care at their original abortion site or of seeking an abortion-related visit at an emergency department. They considered this likelihood alongside the distance a patient traveled to reach their original abortion site.

The researchers found 25 percent of abortions were followed by a visit to the original abortion site for follow-up care and 3 percent were followed by an abortion-related ED visit. Women who traveled a farther distance for their abortion were more likely to visit an ED and were less likely to return to their original abortion site for follow-up care. Follow-up care at an ED tended to cost $941, compared to $536 at an original abortion site.

"Increasing the number of rural Medicaid abortion providers and reimbursing providers for telemedicine and alternatives to routine follow-up would likely improve continuity of care and reduce state costs by shifting the location of follow-up from EDs back to abortion providers," the study authors concluded.

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Jupiter Medical Center rolls out telehealth program

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