Over the past year, COVID-19 changed many of our everyday behaviors, bringing more of our interactions online. We worked online, saw friends and family for virtual happy hours, met nieces and nephews for the first time, and even graduated over Zoom. It’s only natural that we also saw an increase in virtual doctor’s appointments. In fact, telehealth utilization increased almost 3,000% percent between 2019 and 2020. And no that’s not a typo—a three thousand percent increase!
It turns out that telehealth can be an effective way to receive healthcare. More than three-quarters of patients felt that their health concerns could be addressed via telehealth while 75% of providers said that telehealth enabled them to provide quality care. When it comes to women’s healthcare, almost 90% of women rated their telehealth well-woman visits positively. When we think about the convenience, ease, and discretion of telehealth, it’s easy to see how it could become a preferred method for people to access primary care.
The expansion of telehealth is good news for birth control; experts like those at the American College of OBGYNs have long considered telehealth visits a safe and effective way to prescribe birth control and studies have even shown that prescribing contraception via telehealth is safe if not more accurate than getting birth control from an in-person provider. The majority of telehealth platforms that prescribe contraception have seen their client volume increase over 50% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s also true for The Pill Club, where we saw an uptick in new patients as well as more requests for both emergency contraception and one-year supply of birth control in the early months of the pandemic.
Although telehealth platforms that offer contraception, like The Pill Club, have been growing, just 5% of women reported obtaining contraception via a phone, video visit, website, or app. In fact, even during a pandemic, 75% of women who use contraception received it only after visiting their doctor’s office, potentially risking exposure to a deadly virus in order to obtain a prescription many of them have been on for years. And this doesn’t include their 12+ visits to the pharmacy to pick up their prescription.
In a world where 30% of women of reproductive age in the U.S. live in contraceptive deserts and where 5% of all reproductive age women will have an unintended pregnancy each year, telehealth has the potential to increase access to contraception and reproductive health care, reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, and improve health outcomes for more women.
Of course, not all healthcare can or should be provided virtually. Our medical team recommends annual wellness exams and other preventive care screenings like blood pressure checks every other year. Depending on your age and health history, you should consider pap smears or HPV testing, as well as testing for sexually transmitted infections. Oral contraceptives can’t protect against STIs, so it’s always a good idea to consider barrier methods. The Pill Club offers FC2—also known as the female condom—which is a woman-controlled, hormone- and latex-free alternative that can protect against STIs. Wherever you are on your health journey, we hope you’ll look to The Pill Club for your everyday contraceptive needs.