Innovations in PPLM’s health centers expanded patients’ options, increased access to care, and improved patient satisfaction.
Telehealth: An Essential Tool
Launched in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, PPLM’s telehealth program continued to deliver confidential, expert services to patients across the Commonwealth. Providers connected with patients remotely to address a range of needs, including birth control prescriptions, PrEP and PEP prescriptions to prevent HIV infection, and self-injection instruction for patients receiving gender-affirming hormone therapy. To improve equity in telehealth access, PPLM scheduled appointments by telephone for patients without home internet connections or safe, private places for videoconferencing. For the first time, interpreters joined telehealth visits in support of patients who requested consultations with practitioners in languages other than English.
New Options for Our Patients
Testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are often avoided by patients because of stigma and confidentiality concerns. In FY21, PPLM mailed patients easy-to-use, at-home STI test kits following telehealth consultations, and processed a record number of STI tests at its on-site lab. At a time when STI rates are rising in Massachusetts and nationally, PPLM increased the number of infections diagnosed and treated.
PPLM also introduced the use of hormonal long-lasting reversible contraception as emergency contraception. Patients can now choose a hormonal IUD (Mirena or Liletta) as an emergency contraception alternative to ParaGard, the nonhormonal copper IUD. These hormonal IUDs have fewer side effects, require no backup methods, and are effective at preventing pregnancy for up to seven years.
PPLM launched its first telemedicine medication abortion (TeleMAB) program. This innovation allowed for expanded scheduling capacity for patients around the state, especially in the underserved Southeastern Massachusetts region.
Navigating Patient Care
Patient navigators offer guidance and support for patients with complex medical needs--patients seeking abortions at a late gestational age; minors seeking abortions through the judicial bypass process; and patients beginning the multi-phase transition process through gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) PPLM’s highly skilled patient navigators helped patients find their way through the health care system, assisting with referrals and logistical barriers such as lack of health insurance, transportation, and child care.
“Our telehealth patients are remarkably satisfied with their experiences. A very high percentage (over 90%!) of our patients indicate that they are likely to recommend our services to others, according to our most recent Press Ganey report.”
Dr. Danielle Roncari, PPLM Medical Director
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