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NYC Health + Hospitals revolutionizes reproductive healthcare with telehealth abortion access

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In a groundbreaking move, NYC Health + Hospitals provided a significant update on its telehealth abortion care initiative, setting a new standard for reproductive healthcare accessibility in the city.

Since its launch in October 2023, the Virtual ExpressCare service has spearheaded telehealth abortion access, making NYC Health + Hospitals the first public health system in the nation to offer such services.

The impact has been substantial, with 870 virtual visits, over 230 mailed abortion kits, and 360 referrals for in-person care within a span of just a few months.

The service enables individuals seeking abortion care in NYC to connect with a licensed healthcare professional through video or phone on-demand. This comprehensive telehealth service operates seven days a week from 9 am to 9 pm, providing swift and secure access to legal abortion care.

Remarkably, the average wait time for a virtual visit is less than five minutes, making it an efficient and accessible option for those in need. Impressively, over 73% of the patients using the service identify as people of color, showcasing its diverse reach.

Erfan Karim, MPH, Executive Director of NYC Health + Hospitals Virtual ExpressCare, expressed enthusiasm, stating, “Virtual ExpressCare makes it easy and convenient to access care, and we are excited to now offer abortion care. We’re here to provide you confidential, immediate care.”

Recognizing the evolving challenges to reproductive rights, Dr. Marisa Nadas, MD, MPH, NYC Health + Hospitals Reproductive Health Clinical Lead, highlighted the importance of breaking down barriers by offering remote medication abortion through Virtual ExpressCare.

This innovative approach circumvents issues related to in-person appointments and expands access to a broader demographic.

The telehealth abortion service is uniquely tailored to New York City, requiring patients to confirm their location during the call and affirm that they will be in the city when taking the medication. Medication is exclusively mailed to New York City addresses and is available to clinically eligible patients up to 10 weeks into their pregnancy.

NYC Health + Hospitals Virtual ExpressCare not only offers telehealth abortion care but also serves as a comprehensive platform for facility-based obstetric and gynecologic services. This includes primary care, family planning, prenatal through delivery care, midwifery and doula services, postpartum care, and various gynecological treatments.

The service, available in over 200 languages, extends beyond reproductive health, providing immediate and confidential care for physical and behavioral health concerns, including COVID-19, minor injuries, fever and flu, and mental health issues.

Financial accessibility is a key focus, with the new telehealth abortion care covered like any other service. Patients with insurance may have a copay, while uninsured individuals or those unable to afford it will receive care with per-visit fees as low as $0, depending on income and family size.

This announcement comes on the heels of Mayor Adams unveiling “Women Forward NYC: An Action Plan for Gender Equity,” a $43 million investment aimed at positioning New York City as a national leader in gender equity.

The plan addresses gender disparities across various domains, including professional development, healthcare, violence prevention, and housing services. NYC Health + Hospitals continues to champion comprehensive, inclusive healthcare, pushing the boundaries of accessibility and paving the way for a more equitable future.

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