Early medical abortion by telemedicine in the United Kingdom: a costing analysis

BJOG. 2022 May;129(6):969-975. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.17033. Epub 2021 Dec 20.


Objective: To determine the potential cost savings resulting from the introduction of routine early medical abortion (EMA) at home by telemedicine in the UK.

Design: A costing study.

Setting: The UK.

Population: Women in 2020 undergoing EMA provided by three independent abortion providers and two National Health Service (NHS) abortion clinics.

Methods: Computation of the costs of each abortion procedure and of managing failed or incomplete abortion and haemorrhage requiring blood transfusion.

Main outcome measures: Cost savings.

Results: Overall estimated cost savings are £15.80 per abortion undertaken by independent abortion providers, representing a saving to the NHS of over £3 million per year. Limited data from NHS services resulted in an estimated average saving of £188.84 per abortion.

Conclusions: Were telemedicine EMA to become routine, an increase in the number of women eligible for medical rather than surgical abortion, and a reduction in adverse events resulting from earlier abortion, could result in significant cost savings.

Tweetable abstract: Early medical abortion at home using telemedicine could save the NHS £3 million per year.

Keywords: Abortion; economics of health care; termination of pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced* / methods
  • Cost Savings
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • State Medicine
  • Telemedicine* / methods
  • United Kingdom

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