While people in the LGBTQ community have the same diseases, injuries, and other health issues common to members of non-LGBTQ communities, we know that the LGBTQ community often experiences different treatment. This population has a higher risk of certain diseases and has historically faced discrimination within many healthcare settings, which can create barriers to receiving appropriate care. In addition, clinical and non-clinical training frequently overlooks information on how to provide affirming care to the LGBTQ community.
How Do LGBTQ Patients Describe Their Patient Experience?
Once a member of the LGBTQ community overcomes concerns about discrimination or any reluctance based on previous experience, what are they likely to encounter? Are healthcare providers doing what they should to provide an affirming experience or is the experience itself creating a barrier to good health? It appears that the question may be a difficult one for many of us in healthcare to answer. LGBTQ patients may experience:
- Judgmental tones from healthcare staff
- Reluctance or refusal of staff to provide care
- Denial of spouse or partner visits or involvement
- Violation of privacy involving gossip
These Problems May Be Somewhat More Acute for Transgender Patients
For transgender patients the experience may be even more difficult, from being called by the wrong name or incorrect pronoun to being denied access to a room appropriate to their gender. These patients even may be asked to “prove” their gender or simply refused medical care. In many cases, patients must educate providers on their unique healthcare needs and have difficulty obtaining life-saving, sex-specific screenings.
The Legal Framework for Providing Affirming Care
Providing affirming care to the LGBTQ community is the right thing to do—failing to do so may bring healthcare providers some unwanted attention from regulatory agencies and insurers. Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits discrimination in both health coverage and health care on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. Health and Human Services defines “sex,” in this case, as inclusive of gender identity. In addition, certain states have health insurance protections for transgendered patients.
Main Line Health Has Launched LGBTQ Inclusive Care
HCCS customer Main Line Health, located in the Philadelphia, PA area, has launched LGBTQ Inclusive Care—a specialized primary and preventative care program for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning community, for patients from childhood through their senior years. LGBTQ Inclusive Care is launching at two locations with LGBTQ Inclusive Care providers and other staff who have undergone specific training to understand the unique needs of the LGBTQ community and to provide them with highly competent care.
This service follows Main Line Health’s January 2013 launch of a Diversity, Respect & Inclusion initiative across the system, which has since been made it a core value of the organization, along with safety, communication, compassion, excellence, innovation, integrity and teamwork. As Main Line Health continues to expand upon its diversity, respect and inclusion efforts, its list of practices that will be designated as LGBTQ Inclusive Care providers will continue to grow.
Compliance Training: Creating a Welcoming Healthcare Environment for LGBTQ Patients
Main Line staffers have access to this training course available from HCCS, A HealthStream Company, that focuses on developing sensitivity to LGBTQ patients in a healthcare environment, and encourages care staff to interact appropriately with these patients to ensure they receive the best patient care. This includes accommodation of people across the spectrum of gender identity and promotes being sensitive to their needs, the laws around LGBTQ patient care, and other important patient care considerations. The course examines how to be allies with patients of different sexual orientations, people in transition, health factors common in this patient population, and also provides additional resources.
This training is approved by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and can be used to meet the Healthcare Equality Index’s on-going training requirement.
Learn more about the training.