Nothing rings more true these days than Apple's famous catchphrase, "There's an app for that." You can order takeout, hail a car and control the lights in your house, all with the swipe of your smartphone.
So it's not surprising that more and more apps for healthcare, a very vital part of our lives, would pop up these days. The latest healthcare app you can download on your smartphone comes from Planned Parenthood, and it has the potential to change how women access contraception.
Planned Parenthood recently launched a new pilot program in Washington and Minnesota where residents can use the organization's app to have video visits with a provider online. Then, the patient can receive the birth control pill, patch or ring in an unmarked package in the mail, with no need to physically visit a doctor, clinic or pharmacy.
"Always discreet, always secure, conveniently available," reads the official website for the app. Though 99 percent of women aged 15 to 44 have used at least one contraceptive method at some point in their lifetime, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, there is still a stigma in the United States attached to using birth control. With this new Planned Parenthood app making access to birth control a more private affair, more women may be encouraged to use contraception.
Not to mention, in the digital age that we live in, everyone is about convenience and instant gratification, especially young people who live their lives on mobile technology. And since this age group is most at risk for unintended pregancies and contracting sexually-transmitted diseases, the Planned Parenthood app seems like a smart way to get contraception to the women that need it most.
The app also might help reduce the number of people buying birth control from "shady online 'pharmacies,'" Slate notes. You have no idea if the birth control you buy from these online retailers is legitimate, which could obviously be very dangerous.
Some worry that the app may dissuade women from having in-office exams completely and make them forgo visiting their gynecologists, which could make important health conditions go undetected. The only relevant test for prescribing birth control is actually just blood pressure, which patients can find out at most drugstores and community centers, Chris Charbonneau, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, told The Seattle Times. The online provider will also ask women to come in for an exam if they need to. Plus, the American College of Physicians announced in June that there is no medical evidence to suggest that annual pelvic exams have any benefit.
Planned Parenthood hopes to take the app to Alaska next and then nationwide.