Planned Parenthood Launches App for At-Home STD Testing
Planned Parenthood launched the Care app last year in Minnesota and Washington State, allowing people speak to a representative of the organization online through a secure, confidential system. If needed, Planned Parenthood will then send birth control or an STD test kit (and treatment if necessary) to their home.
Planned Parenthood's Vice President of Health Innovation Jill Balderson said, "The future of health care is online, and for Planned Parenthood that means developing and testing new programs that allow people to fit the sexual and reproductive care they need into their busy lives ... [these apps] are only the beginning for Planned Parenthood."
Knowing that in order to scale to help its patients, Jill continues to state that innovation and technology will be a key focus in the organization's initiatives: "As online health care delivery evolves, Planned Parenthood will evolve with it. We're committed to finding innovative solutions to bring quality, accessible reproductive and sexual health care to people wherever they are."
From a personal perspective, it's forward-thinking of Planned Parenthood to anticipate the need to implement technology in their new and current initiatives, but the question of how safe this is comes into play. Are the at-home STD tests safe? Is the treatment OK to take at home without directions from a certified provider?
In a 2014 report from Mayo Clinic (the largest, integrated nonprofit medical group practice in the world) states that while in-home test are safe to use, they have a higher chance of being inaccurate if not performed by a medical professional. One can also argue that a patient is more likely to know and seek the right treatment if the test is performed in a certified medical facility, as opposed to in the privacy of a person's home.
What trumps these concerns (IMO) is that Planned Parenthood's initiative addresses a broader view: awareness and education. The No. 1 cause for untreated STDs is lack of knowledge and access to testing and treatment. Planned Parenthood's at-home STD testing may not be the end-all-be-all for STD testing and treatment, but it's a step in the right direction in getting to a safer and more accessible solution and making seeking treatment part of the social norm.
Apps are available on the App Store and Google Play, but are currently only available in certain states. Visit Planned Parenthood's website to see when Planned Parenthood Direct is available in your area.