The U.S. Healthcare System is one of the largest industries in America, comprising more than one-sixth of the nation’s gross domestic product and involving a massive supply chain that flows medical goods and services to patients. . As patients demand for easily-accessible care has increased, healthcare organizations have grappled with the incorporation of digital medicine, such as virtual visits, secure messaging, and mobile health, into this supply chain to compete with new disruptive models of affordable care, like retail clinics, urgent care centers, and internet-based medical care companies . Telehealth interventions provide one possible solution for healthcare organizations to meet demand of the growing aging population in the setting of fewer clinicians to provide goods and services . As well, as reimbursement moves towards a value-based system, telemedicine allows for healthcare systems to match resources with value by expanding access to a cheaper supply chain to the healthier population while allocating the more expensive resources to the sicker pricier patients .
Planned Parenthood is one healthcare organization that has been working to incorporate telemedicine into its short-term and long-term strategy in order to address the pressures of increased patient demand, competition from other models of care delivery, and payers changing its reimbursement systems. Planned Parenthood is an organization that serves a diverse population across the United States with comprehensive reproductive, primary care, and educational services. In the short term (the next two years), Planned Parenthood has been focusing on expanding the routes of telehealth interventions to reach its core diverse patient population and expand access to care. The organization launched a mobile texting platform for patients to receive sexual and reproductive health information and questions from their providers ; created a mobile application for patients to have virtual visits with direct-to-consumer testing for sexually transmitted diseases ; launched an mobile application to track one’s birth control and period to improve upon family planning initiatives ; and offered prescriptions for birth control and urinary tract infections through its telehealth platform “Planned Parenthood Care™” . In the medium term (three to ten years), Planned Parenthood hopes to focus on virtual reality and other technology to transform how health education and information is provided to its patient base and how the organization uses the vast information it is receiving through telemedicine . As well, Planned Parenthood hopes to be able to use telehealth to provide family planning resources such as legal medical abortion to low-resource poor rural areas; though successful in several States, this telehealth resource has been met with lawsuits and court-interventions to strike down this capability [10,11].
There are additional steps that Planned Parenthood needs to make in order to address the growing concerns of changing reimbursement, increased demand, and competition. In the short-term, the organization needs a better overall structure and presentation of the telehealth capabilities to its patients. There have been too many platforms of telehealth across multiple avenues that makes it difficult for a patient to understand the scope of what Planned Parenthood has to offer. Its competitors have a single website and mobile application that offer similar services that allow for patients to understand the breadth of the digital capabilities [12,13]. In addition, in the short term, Planned Parenthood should consider how to expand upon its direct-to-consumer capabilities for educational, reproductive, and general primary care services as the organization has scale to be able to distribute these medical goods and services. In the medium term, Planned Parenthood needs to consider how it will face the political climate while addressing its core mission for sexual and reproductive health. Currently, they only provide telehealth services in six states and should focus on how to expand their telehealth capabilities across the large national network of Planned Parenthood.
Thinking about how telemedicine has impacted Planned Parenthood thus far and how the organization could consider moving in the future, I ask my peers the following questions:
- Should Planned Parenthood expand its telehealth and direct-to-consumer medical program in the setting of a political and cultural climate that stigmatizes sexual and reproductive health? How can it compete with smaller telehealth firms without the Planned Parenthood reputation?
- What are the advantages or disadvantages for Planned Parenthood to have a telehealth program that focuses on sexual health across all populations?
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 “Planned Parenthood’s New Mobile App Brings Confidential and Convenient STD Testing and Treatment to Your Doorstep” Planned Parenthood, June 16, 2015. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/planned-parenthoods-new-mobile-app-brings-confidential-and-convenient-std-testing-and-treatment-to-your-doorstep accessed November 2017.
 Giorgio, M, Kantor, L, Levine, D, Arons, W, “Using Chat and Text Technologies to Answer Sexual and Reproductive Health Questions: Planned Parenthood Pilot Study” Journal of Medical Internet Research. September 20th, 2013. http://www.jmir.org/2013/9/e203/ accessed November 2017.
 “Spot On” Planned Parenthood. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/get-care/spotontracker accessed November 2017.
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 “Planned Parenthood Highlights the Power of Technology for Health Care and Education at ‘VR for Good’ Summit” Planned Parenthood, August 2, 2017 https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/press-releases/planned-parenthood-highlights-the-power-of-technology-for-health-care-and-education-at-vr-for-good-summit accessed November 2017.
 Sifferlin, A, “Planned Parenthood Appeals Ban on Telehealth Medication Abortions” Time Magazine, August 28, 2014. http://time.com/3207170/planned-parenthood-telehealth-abortions/ accessed November 2017.
 Mack, H “Planned Parenthood settles Idaho lawsuit that banned telemedicine for abortion-inducing medication”. Mobile Health News. January 24, 2017. http://www.mobihealthnews.com/content/planned-parenthood-settles-idaho-lawsuit-banned-telemedicine-abortion-inducing-medication accessed November 2017.
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