A study has been released by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania which evaluated the Fast Track to Fertility Program at Penn Medicine. The program was implemented to increase access to fertility care for patients who are having difficulty getting pregnant. The researchers discovered that the program is highly successful, with results demonstrating shorter wait times, more patients served, lower no-show rates, and higher patient satisfaction.
According to the press release, the Fast Track to Fertility program reduced the time it took for patients to receive their first treatment from initial request by half. Additionally, the program enabled for more new patients to obtain fertility care, with the number rising by 24 percent in the year it was established as a standard of care at Penn Medicine. It also decreased the average time it took for new patients to acquire their first treatment from 97 to 41 days. The researchers contend that these results come at an important time, as infertility affects 1 in eight couples in the U.S.. As well as, 2 thirds of patients who seek fertility treatment later discontinue the care due to stress.
The program comprises a group of advanced practice providers who conduct telehealth-based visits with new patients. Patients were also able to use a text messaging system powered by artificial intelligence to obtain instructions during their initial examinations. The program proved highly effective. Early iterations of the software, which texted patients using people rather than AI, cut down on wait times for new patient visits by 88 percent, with an average wait time of only four days. There were several other benefits to the program. For instance, the percentage of missed appointments decreased from 40% to 20%. Furthermore, patients reported a high level of satisfaction with the program.
“Most of the people who seek fertility care have been trying to get pregnant for at least a year, so the emotional stakes are high and they really want to get started as soon as possible,” said the study’s senior author and Fast Track to Fertility co-founder, Anuja Dokras. “Our findings show that this program can significantly speed up the time to treatment and, in so doing, opens the door for so many more people. These findings show this way of doing things can make real differences in people’s lives.”