At the Click of a Button

At the Click of a Button

by McKayla Skinner

The Nurx app (Pronounced New RX) and others like it, promote birth control at the click of a button, without the personal assistance of a pharmacist or a visit to the doctor’s office. Nurx offers birth control such as: the pill, patch and ring, as well as the abortion pill Plan B and STD medication. After choosing an option, you are led through a short health questionnaire, enter your health insurance information (or just pay the 15 dollars per month without insurance), and then click send. Afterwards, a doctor on their panel will oversee the application, write an electronic prescription for the birth control, which is then delivered to your door. Easy enough, but what are the drawbacks?

The main drawback is that it impedes the doctor patient relationship. In the terms of use it states, “I understand that by using the App I won’t receive personalized advice on the most appropriate birth control method,” such personalized health advice, which is crucial for women to have as they prepare for sexual activity (if that is purpose of the patient’s birth control). Additionally, patients may still need to understand how their family medical history may impact the risks of taking the birth control, and an in-person doctor checking for this and anatomical issues can mitigate risks that could make intercourse painful or even dangerous to one’s health. These considerations are crucial when scheduling a yearly checkup, and especially for the first gynecologist exam. If we care so much about protecting women’s health, why should we distance them from doctors for convenience sake?

Furthermore, there are numerous other information issues with the use of this app. While personal information given in the app is encrypted, users and family doctors are intellectually removed. This means that the app collects your information, but does not provide other key information important to patients. For example, the Nurx app users do not even get to see the credentials of Nurx doctors. Additionally, unlike traditional doctors, Nurx doctors do not have access to their patient’s medical records, and traditional doctors do not have access to medical files created with Nurx. The app also undercuts parental consent, even allowing 12 year olds to apply without parental oversight or consulting a family doctor.

Easier access to medical care is not a bad thing, and there are good reasons and situations in which to use birth control. However, we must consider the drawbacks to this kind of access.

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