Bayer, Geisinger add digital touch to office-visit contraception chat

Bayer is linking with Geisinger to proactively lower the rate of unintended pregnancies with a new women's contraceptive health initiative. (Bayer)

Bayer and Geisinger Health are teaming up to put contraception front and center in women's health visits, starting with some information gathering before a patient sets foot in the clinic.

The aim? Targeting unintended pregnancies, which still account for 45% of all U.S. pregnancies despite a full range of birth control options, Bayer's Yesmean Wahdan, M.D.,  said. Though the effort isn't tied to a specific brand, the German drugmaker sells contraceptive drugs and devices, including its newest IUD, Kyleena.

The two partners are pilot-testing an approach that combines a previsit survey online with in-person counseling. When any woman of reproductive age schedules an appointment at a Geisinger Health center—whether for an annual exam, in-between office visit or pregnancy checkup—they'll be asked to fill out the survey through Geisinger's patient portal, said Wahdan, who's an obstetrician-gynecologist and deputy director of medical affairs for women’s healthcare at Bayer in the U.S.

Women who don't visit the portal receive a reminder email. If they still don't fill out the survey ahead of time, they'll be given an iPad to fill it out in the waiting room when they show up for their appointment.

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“We realized through our relationship with Geisinger that we had a common goal to decrease unintended pregnancy,” Wahdan said. “It makes patient care more efficient and ensures they receive the proper education and access to care they need.”

The program launched in late January, and on the first day the survey was sent out, Geisinger received more than 380 responses from women preparing for visits, she added. The unintended pregnancy rate in the U.S. has already dropped from 50% to 45% over the past five years, Wahdan said, as the World Health Organization, the CDC and other health organizations promote education and access to contraception, along with more convenient and cost-effective options.

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Although the Geisinger partnership is unbranded, Wahdan oversees Bayer’s portfolio of long-acting reversible contraceptives which include hormone-releasing IUDs Mirena, Skyla and Kyleena. Bayer’s women’s health business also extends beyond contraception to menopause management, and it's testing products in phase 3 trials to treat endometriosis and uterine fibroids.