It’s common knowledge that rural areas don’t have access to healthcare in the same way that those living in larger cities might have. Due to this, many people will go without healthcare because it’s too difficult, too expensive, too inconvenient, etc. Women are among some of the higher percentages that are left without the proper access to the healthcare they need. Especially in rural areas which is where Planned Parenthood focuses a lot of its work. PP has noticed that telehealth services are needed in rural areas, now more than ever. They believe that telemedicine is the answer to fixing a lot of the unmet needs of rural women.
Planned Parenthood of the Rockies has planned to release what they call “PP Direct.” It’s a telemedicine service that specifically focuses on getting dire medical care to women in rural areas. As of right now, PP Direct is just an initiative and hasn’t fully been launched. However, once launched, it will be a phone app where women can interact with real physicians and gain access to birth control and assistance in other female-related health concerns such as urinary tract infections. The Rockies clinic alone has been serving around 100,000 patients on a yearly basis. However, with the adoption of telemedicine services through the PP Direct app, they expect this number to rise dramatically.
What’s convenient about the app is that it can be used anytime, anywhere. If a woman needs help while on lunch break, or at their home at 2 AM, it’s available. For now, the app largely focuses on just the care of women and their specific health needs. Although, in the future, there may be an expansion to include other services.
There was some reluctance at it being an app, especially when targeting urban or rural areas. However, the use of mobile phones is so widespread, that it’s rare for most people to not own a phone or have access to using one. For this reason, Planned Parenthood felt it was the most useful and convenient way to launch the app and give people easy access to its services. PP also believes that the older generations are becoming more familiar with the use of cellphones which means these new services could reach women of all ages in all areas, even those in rural or urban locations.
The app works by allowing the patient to state what they’re needing. Based on their responses, they will be given options for treatment or information based on their needs. If they prefer to talk to a physician, they input their info and a clinician gets back to them in 24 hours or less. Of course, the goal is less than 24 hours, but the timing will improve as the app grows in popularity. However, this use of telemedicine just goes to show how effective and beneficial it is in general and how far it can reach to make healthcare that much easier and more accessible.