Background: In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a number of population-based approaches to restrict interaction between individuals to reduce transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These approaches caused healthcare practitioners to adapt to being able to support patients whilst reducing face to face interactions.
Method: The protocol being developed to facilitate remote Human Papillomavirus (HPV) self-collection under clinical supervision involves a healthcare practitioner sending a request form to VCS Pathology with appropriate patient details. The patient is then assessed, with assistance from the National Cancer Screening Register, for meeting the criteria for self-collection (?30 years of age, more than two years overdue for screening). If the patient is suitable for self-collection then a pack is sent out to them including instructions on how to collect a sample and how to return the specimen to the laboratory.
Results: This protocol is currently being trialled at VCS Pathology and results of uptake, acceptance, and HPV positivity rates will be presented.
Discussion: Learnings for this novel approach to population-based screening in a time of telehealth and social distancing will be discussed.
Implications for practice: During the current COVID-19 pandemic new ways of facilitating access to healthcare are being adopted across a range of areas. Self-collection for HPV-based cervical screening was available prior to 2020 and as such the model being trialled is scientifically valid but it is hoped that this novel approach within the Australian National Cervical Screening Program will increase access in an under- or never-screened population without increasing the risks of attending a healthcare setting. It is also expected to support improved access to screening in remote areas or where there is a shortage of clinicians to provide conventional screening.