Virtual assistant

carafem develops text-based virtual assistant for patients taking abortion pill at home

Women’s healthcare company carafem now makes home abortions easier with its virtual assistant, Cara.

Patients in Georgia, Virginia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and the District of Columbia can now benefit from medical abortions via carafem with Cara’s 24-hour emotional and medical support.

Cara (1-855-SAY-CARA) is a text-based virtual assistant designed to function like a traditional healthcare team. It provides real-time responses and support to concerns people may have when taking the abortion pill at home. If needed, Cara can connect patients to a live member of the carafem medical team who can review their medical records for more informed assistance.

“carafem’s mission is to improve access to abortion services while ensuring that clients receive the highest quality and medically supported counseling throughout their telemedicine journey,” said Melissa Grant, Director of the operation of carafem, in a press release.

“From their home, or wherever they feel most comfortable, people can use the abortion pill with personalized support via ‘Cara’, a 24/7 SMS assistance system. Cara works as a personalized team of experts to accompany you wherever you are. you go there, and not just during normal business hours. “

To benefit from a medical abortion at home via carafem, users organize a virtual visit with a provider to establish a care plan. Then the company sends the drug by post within two to four business days. From there, patients follow the included instructions with available support from Cara and follow up with the carafem care team after the abortion is complete.

The drug costs between $ 250 and $ 375 because carafem is currently unable to accept insurance or Medicaid for abortion pills in the mail. The company offers financial assistance to eligible patients, to be determined during the virtual visit.

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT

Just this week, the Food and Drug Administration said it would allow abortion pills to be mailed for the duration of the public health emergency.

Janet Woodcock, Acting Commissioner of the FDA, sent a letter on Monday to two reproductive health organizations claiming that the administration would “exercise discretionary enforcement powers” over abortion pills sold by mail order.

Medical abortions involve taking two prescription drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, which together induce the equivalent of an early miscarriage. The first one, mifepristone is usually taken in person in a clinic under the supervision of a certified health care provider. The second dose, misoprostol, can be taken at home for up to 72 hours after the first dose.

New FDA guidelines thwart a January Supreme Court decision which reinstated a federal requirement that people seeking medical abortions must pick up mifepristone in person from a hospital or doctor’s office.

“We applaud the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for lifting restrictions on the ability to receive mifepristone by mail to improve the health and safety of people choosing this option during a public health emergency,” Grant said.

“There is absolutely no scientific or medical justification for forcing pregnant people to go to a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office during COVID-19 to access the abortion pill. “

The use of telemedicine abortion services has been studied in recent years, and a the council of researchers declared that it is “safe, effective and acceptable, and supports the claim that there is no medical reason for mifepristone to be dispensed in clinics as required by the Food and Drug Administration.”

THE BIGGEST TREND

Relaxed policies regarding home abortion care have led to a number of new telemedicine abortion clinics. In addition to carafem, there are Just the pill for residents of Minnesota, Choice for people in California and Hi Jeanne for patients in New York and Washington.

Planned Parenthood has started updating its services to reflect an increasingly digital healthcare system. Last April, it expanded its telehealth services to include all 50 states, so patients can virtually access certain birth control needs, testing for sexually transmitted infections, gender-affirming hormone therapy, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), screening for urinary tract infections and the morning-after pill.

Prior to that, the nonprofit launched its Abortion Care Finder which helps people find the nearest abortion center that suits their specific needs.

Planned Parenthood also has its own chatbot, called Roo, which can answer questions about adolescent sexual health and puberty.

ON THE RECORD

“Via Cara, our medically supported home abortion care services are now within reach of people [who] have traditionally been unable to access abortion care, ”Grant said.

“Medically supported home abortion pills represent a form of reproductive freedom and an essential tool for increasing access – giving people the ability to make the choices that are best for them, comfortably and conveniently, even those who live in more isolated rural communities. “