New Intermountain Health Program Allows Pharmacists to Prescribe Hormonal Birth Control to Adult Women in Utah Through Telehealth Visits, Following Changes to Utah Law

A change in Utah law allows registered pharmacists to prescribe and dispense basic hormonal contraceptives directly to adult women, so they don’t need to make an appointment with a doctor or advanced practice provider to receive a prescription. Many Utah women are not aware of this increased access to birth control.

The changes apply to the types of basic hormonal birth control that women can self-administer at home, such as contraceptive pills, patches or vaginal rings. This is especially important to women who want faster access to contraceptives or don’t have a primary care or women’s health provider.

A new program now available through Intermountain Health combines mailed prescription pharmacy services and telehealth to increase access to these basic forms of hormonal birth control for women in Utah. 

“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,” said Sean Esplin, MD, senior medical director for women’s health at Intermountain Health.

“Routine birth control prescriptions and refills for women who are 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,” he added.

Another benefit of having pharmacists prescribe birth control, is that it could free up additional appointments for some women’s health specialists such as obstetricians, gynecologists, midwives and nurse practitioners who see patients for various women’s health concerns.

The fee for a virtual visit with an Intermountain pharmacist is only 20 dollars, and once approved, the medication can be shipped directly to the patient. Some insurance plans will pay for the telehealth evaluation as well as the prescription for patients.

“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.”

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.

If a pharmacist has concerns about a patient’s health history, they will refer the patient to see a doctor or advanced practice provider who can evaluate the patient 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.

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 of the providers involved in the patient’s care stay informed.

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

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NOTE TO MEDIA: Images and video available upon request.

Many women in Utah not aware of increased access to birth control thanks in part to new law.