I’m sure this won’t controversial at all.
“Isn’t there an app for that?”
Turns out there is, if what you’re after is birth control or a test for a sexually transmitted infection.
In the latest example of fast-growing “telemedicine,” video conferencing that virtually extends medical expertise, Planned Parenthood is rolling out a pilot project for real-time “office visits” that bring patient and medical provider face to face on a smartphone, tablet or personal computer.
Fueling the Planned Parenthood Care project, under way in Washington and Minnesota, is a “horrible statistic,” says Chris Charbonneau, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest: “People are sexually active for six to nine months before they get a really reliable birth-control method.”
One result: an estimated 52,500 unintended pregnancies in Washington in 2010, according to the state Department of Health.
Combine that with the prevalence of chlamydia, the most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the U.S., and gonorrhea — both primarily affecting people ages 15 to 24 — and Planned Parenthood hatched a plan to meet young people where they live: on their phones and mobile devices.
For now, the virtual visits create a streamlined process for getting mail-order birth control — and soon, test kits for two common sexually transmitted infections.
Along with convenience, the virtual visits provide a technological answer to this question, Charbonneau says: “How do we see people who either can’t or have difficulty walking into bricks-and-mortar sites, to at least get them started on birth control” or begin investigating a potential sexually transmitted infection?
The national Planned Parenthood organization chose Washington as one of the first states for the project because of its long history of support for women’s reproductive rights and its strong local chapter, according to the local organization.
Planned Parenthood hopes the project will expand next to Alaska and eventually go nationwide. Obstacles include state laws — and possibly some controversy in the wake of a telemedicine controversy in Iowa.
Some [anti-abortion] activists also worry that webcam visits, though solely for birth control, may ultimately lead to more abortions.
“We know how these things start,” says Dan Kennedy, CEO of Human Life of Washington. “Who is honestly going to believe that’s as far as it goes?”
I’m sure you can imagine how the “argument” will go from there. I’m posting this partly because it’s a great idea, and partly so we’re all familiar with the background when someone in the Lege inevitably files a bill to ban this. In the name of women’s health, of course. Tech Times has more.