Patients from across Massachusetts and beyond look to PPLM for compassionate, high quality sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion, contraception, STI testing and treatment, cancer screening, and gender affirming hormone therapy.
Medication Abortion: Safe and Available
In order to make abortion care more accessible during the pandemic and in preparation for Roe v. Wade being overturned, PPLM expanded access to medication abortion through telehealth as well as in-clinic visits. Based on research indicating the safety of extending the gestation age limit for telehealth medication abortion, PPLM patients up to their 11th week of pregnancy can now receive this care. As more patients have chosen to take advantage of this option, PPLM established an affiliation with an online pharmacy network that facilitated prescription fulfillment. Medication abortion via telehealth has grown rapidly in southeastern Massachusetts, thanks to dynamic partnerships and outreach (see Community Engagement). In other parts of the state, many patients continue to seek abortion care in person at PPLM’s four health centers, where appointment availability was increased to accommodate them.
Clinical Health Network for Transformation
PPLM is part of the Clinical Health Network for Transformation (CHN), a management initiative based on state-of-the-art information technology and collaboration comprised of Planned Parenthood affiliates across 18 states. In FY22, PPLM took significant steps toward combining many operations and services with fellow CHN member affiliates. The overarching goal is to provide Planned Parenthood patients with expert, seamless continuity of care, regardless of where they are. CHN will oversee a robust electronic recordkeeping system, reduce operational costs through shared administrative services, and advance the cause of health equity through use of improved data. Benefits to patients include ready access to their synchronized medical records, even if they visit different Planned Parenthood health centers or move across state lines; efficient online scheduling, follow up, and referral requests; and quicker response time from health center staff. CHN is supported by EPIC, a widely used and respected software that facilitates confidential patient record-sharing, data collection, and streamlined administrative functions. Overall, 40 out of 48 Planned Parenthood affiliates across the country have signed on to use EPIC, significantly expanding the impact of the network.
Navigating Patient Care
Many individuals come to PPLM with complex problems that require special management by patient navigators, staff members who work directly with people making their way through the health care system. Patient navigators help patients arrange health insurance, refer them to community resources such as substance use treatment centers and mental health agencies, guide minors through the judicial bypass system, and provide patients with referral letters that meet state requirements for gender affirming surgeries. They work with patients in Massachusetts and coming from out-of-state seeking abortion care to arrange travel and lodging if necessary and alert them to local sources of financial support. The program is proving highly effective in reducing barriers to care, and it is serving as a model for providers nationally.
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