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Minerva Obstetrics and Gynecology 2022 Mar 25

DOI: 10.23736/S2724-606X.22.05074-6


language: English

Telehealth for infertile patients during SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: far and yet close

Sara STIGLIANI 1, Claudia MASSAROTTI 2, Elena MACCARINI 1, Fausta SOZZI 1, Simona REBORA 3, Paola SCARUFFI 1 , Paola ANSERINI 1

1 UOS Physiopathology of Human Reproduction, IRCCS Ospedale Policlinico San Martino, Genova, Italy; 2 Department of Neuroscience, Rehabilitation, Ophthalmology, Genetics and Maternal-Child Health (DiNOGMI), University of Genova, Genova, Italy; 3 UO Psicologia Clinica e Psicoterapia, IRCCS Ospedale Policlinico San Martino, Genova, Italy


BACKGROUND: In Italy during the first pandemic wave of SARS-CoV-2 the activity of fertility centers was stopped, with the exception of fertility preservation in oncological patients. We adopted telehealth and we evaluated whether it could help in the management of infertile couples at a fertility center.
METHODS: A longitudinal study performed at a public fertility center. Telehealth was offered to 72 couples referred to our center for a first consultation from March 17th to May 31st, 2020. Percentage of patients who performed the first assisted reproduction technology (ART) cycle or intrauterine insemination (IUI) within 6 months from the first visit and drop-out rate were analyzed during COVID-19 pandemic and compared to historical controls (couples admitted to our center in 2017-2019).
RESULTS: Eighty-five (61/72) percent of couples accepted telehealth. Time to first treatment after online consultation in telehealth group (4.5 (1.8) months) was significantly shorter (p = 0.033) respect to time to first treatment after face-to-face visit of historical controls (7.5 (6.9) months). After telehealth consultation, we observed a significant reduction (p = 0.002) of drop-out rate from 39% in historical controls to 17% of telehealth group. Telehealth significantly diminished the drop-out rate also during the COVID-19 pandemic respect to 73% after traditional face-to-face visits (p = 0.0005), with a time to first treatment of 3.7 (2.1) months in couples who refused telehealth.
CONCLUSIONS: Telehealth could be a useful tool to facilitate the path of patients in a fertility center.

KEY WORDS: Telehealth; Telemedicine; COVID-19 pandemic; ART; Infertility

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