Intermountain Health increases accessibility to women’s contraceptives

UTAH – Following a change in Utah law, specifically House Bill 178 Pharmacy Practice Modifications, registered pharmacists are now allowed to prescribe and dispense basic hormonal contraceptives directly to adult women in the state. Utah women do not need to make an appointment with a doctor or advanced practice provider to receive a contraceptive prescription.

Changes are made to basic hormonal birth controls that women can self-administer at home, such as vaginal rings, patches, and contraceptive pills. This is especially important for women who desire to receive contraception swiftly or for those who don’t have a primary care or women’s health provider.

“Routine birth control prescriptions and refills for women at low risk of complications can be handled by pharmacists. They are a well-qualified and under-utilized resource for patients. In general, regular check-ups with a women’s health provider are recommended, and with pharmacist-prescribed birth control, proof of a check-up is required every two years,” said Sean Esplin, MD, senior medical director for women’s health at Intermountain Health.

For women in Utah, a new initiative launched by Intermountain Health combines telehealth services with mailed prescription pharmacy services to expand access to these basic hormonal birth control methods.

The new service is for adult women in Utah who are at low risk for complications. After filling out an online form about their medical history, a pharmacist will reach out through a virtual telephone visit about their prescription.

Suppose a pharmacist has concerns about a patient’s health history. In that case, they will refer the patient to a doctor or advanced practice provider who can evaluate them for the most appropriate prescription or other treatment.

Most patients who use the telehealth program will only need an appointment with the pharmacist, and then a prescription will be mailed to the patient.

“Our biggest goal is to improve healthcare access for patients at a lower cost, and this new program does both,” said Carrie Dunford, chief pharmacy officer for Intermountain Health. “This will make care more convenient for our patients and ensure women anywhere in the state have timely access.”

A video consultation with an Intermountain pharmacist costs $20, and after approval, the patient can get their medication through the mail. Some insurance plans will cover both the patient’s prescription and the telemedicine evaluation.

Pharmacists at Intermountain Health work closely with the Intermountain women’s health providers to facilitate access to care and document their care in the medical record so all providers involved in the patient’s care stay informed.

“Pharmacists complete six years of education and have a wealth of specialized knowledge about medication and its various uses, management, and dosing, as well as how medications can interact with each other,” Esplin said.

For more information on the new pharmacy program and to sign up, click here.

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