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Study Shows Telemedicine Abortion is Safe and Effective; Politics Intervenes Nonetheless

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Written by Wyndi Anderson and Melanie Zurek for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Big pharma and advances in medicine get a lot of attention for improving health, but several recently published studies show that communication technology may actually drive some of the changes that could have the biggest impact.  Telemedicine is being safely and effectively used to expand access to a wide range of health care services including adult and neonatal intensive care, cardiology, psychiatry, and emergency medicine.

Advances in telemedicine, for example, are a growing part of the solution to the shortage of health care providers in rural communities and as a new study shows, for women seeking abortion. Rural communities are home to 20 percent of the U.S. population but only 9 percent of physicians; 87 percent of all U.S. counties and 97 percent of rural counties have no abortion provider. In light of these daunting statistics, telemedicine holds unprecedented promise of improved access and higher quality of care for hard-to-reach communities.

Alongside the promise of telemedicine comes the concerns that any new technology brings.  Not long ago, it was only in science fiction that we imagined robots would helps us care for critically sick babies or that we could trust technology enough to use it to monitor high risk pregnancy from far away.  As with any technology or use, we must proceed soberly and ethically, and consider acceptability, safety and quality of care alongside the benefits new technologies bring. But we also have to allow for evidence-based advances in medicine irrespective of ideology.

The recent publication of a new study finds medication abortion to be a safe and effective use of telemedicine.

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