AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new app launched this week allows women and teen girls to get birth control delivered to their door.
It is called the Nurx app. Thanks to a new law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott last month, patients can answer an online questionnaire, speak with a Nurx doctor, who will write a birth control prescription based on those questions.
“We were getting hundreds of messages from patients in Texas and we were just really prohibited by the limited Texas telemedicine laws,” said Dr. Jessica Knox, the app’s medical director.
Nurx comes at a time when the state just expanded its telemedicine laws, which opens the door for patients to chat with a doctor on their computer, smart phone or tablet without a previously-required initial face-to-face visit.
Knox said it’s a game changer for low-income, minority and rural-based women, who are 18 and older.
“Really, in the United States, our women have been left in the archaic time of birth control where we have to schlep to the doctor’s office and schlep to the pharmacy’s office to get an overwhelmingly safe drug,” she said. “And gives us the power to make decisions about our own reproductive health.”
She said patients are also more likely to use the app from the comfort and convenience of their own homes, which allows them to open up to doctors.
“We have had patients tell us that, ‘I feel way more comfortable talking to you and asking you sensitive questions. You’ve provided me way more information because I’ve been able to ask questions that I felt asking face-to-face with my own doctor,'” she said.
But, some opponents of expanded telemedicine in Texas fear a spike in misdiagnoses. Knox says with the click of a button patients can get back in contact with doctors for follow-up questions.
“A lot of doctors aren’t comfortable with changing the model so dramatically,” Knox said. “But, the model needs to change because it hasn’t been working for patients for a really long time.”
The Nurx app can also get in contact with insurance providers and pharmacies. For some patients with health insurance, the prescription may be free. Patients who wish to pay out of pocket may select birth control that costs about $15.
Currently, the app only offers several forms of birth control, emergency contraception and HIV prevention medication. It plans to offer other prescription drugs over the next few years.