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Virtual Innovations Allow Continuity of Fertility Care During COVID

In This Video

  • Virtual innovations due to COVID-19 restrictions including online consent forms preoperatively and at-home semen collection, enabled continuity of care for fertility patients
  • Close coordination with the lab allowed for blood tests and buccal swabs at home in order to accommodate patient needs and COVID-19 guidelines
  • Moving forward, the Fertility Center hopes to incorporate these innovations into their practice

John Petrozza, MD, chief of Division of Reproductive Medicine and IVF and director of the Fertility Center in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Massachusetts General Hospital, discusses virtual innovations by the department that provide continuity of fertility care and enable the Fertility Center to accommodate our patients during COVID-19.


One of the things that we've learned and experienced with this COVID pandemic is trying to make changes on the fly, trying to accommodate our patients, trying to get them seen, trying to provide some continuity of care, and having to live in this virtual world has really forced us to look at how we do a lot of these processes. And in particular, reproductive surgery, where typically we needed to see the patient prior to surgery, we needed to see the patient after the surgery, has now given us an opportunity to evaluate this, and what we're starting to look at are doing consent forms online preoperatively, and trying to manage them the best that we can without having to see them in person. And because most of what I do is laparoscopic, or minimally invasive surgery, it really lends itself well to being able to manage these patients virtually.

When COVID hit in the early part of this year, our fertility practice was following the guidelines that were being given nationally and within our scientific organizations. The silver lining in that is that it's really changed how health care is going to be delivered in the world of fertility care moving forward. And some of the things that we really got off the ground, you know, collecting at home. In the past when we wanted a guy to collect a semen analysis, he would have to drive to one of our clinics, we weren't sure we were going to get valid results if they collected at home, but the COVID pandemic forced us to have guys collect at home.

It also gave us an opportunity to look at it a little bit deeper from the research standpoint and we realized that as long as guys collected and got it in within a couple of hours, the semen parameters weren't that different than if they collected in the office. Likewise, a lot of our blood tests that we did on both the men and the women, they had to come into the hospital or two one of the satellite clinics to collect their blood. We actually worked with a company, a national company, that was doing blood tests from home. So they would send them a special card, the patient would do a fingerstick, put a little drop of blood on this card, send it back to the company, and we would get most of the hormonal studies that we needed to do their testing. So it was phenomenal.

We worked with one of our genetic companies because we do a lot of genetic testing on our patients, and they're able to send kits to the patients' homes. The patients can then do a buccal swab, send it back to the lab and we can get a wealth of genetic information on the patient and her partner. I think moving forward, these types of conveniences are really gonna stay within our practice.

Learn more about fertility care at Mass General

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