Health Care Inclusivity for the LGBTQIA+ CommunityClient Alert
The LGBTQIA+ community, which includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual individuals, largely suffers from disparate health outcomes in the United States, and approximately one quarter of the LGBTQIA+ population either avoids or delays receiving healthcare services due to fear of discrimination.
Healthcare providers, regardless of practice setting, should be aware of the healthcare disparities for LGBTQIA+ individuals, and ways in which they can be more inclusive of these individuals by making modifications to their practices.
First, the patient intake process can be modified by addressing sexual orientation and gender identity. For example, the intake form can allow patients to select their sexual orientation, current gender identity, sex assigned at birth, and their preferred name. These questions not only foster an inclusive environment for LGBTQIA+ individuals but allows providers to render appropriate care. In order to reduce anxieties, providers can consider providing laminated intake forms with dry erase markers, implementing a self-check-in system, or an at-home check-in system. This allows patients to discuss their sexual orientation and gender identity in a more private setting and eliminates the need to speak with someone directly.
In addition, providers can update their documentation processes to ensure that patient sexual orientation and gender identify are included in the medical records. This includes capturing both the patient’s sex assigned at birth and current gender identity, and the patient’s legal name and preferred name, along with preferred pronouns.
LGBTQIA+ Patient-Centered Trainings
Another way to foster a safe and inclusive environment for the LGBTQIA+ community is to implement practice-wide training for all employees. This can include training to identify and treat the unique health needs of this specific patient population, improve patient-provider communication, and enhance compassionate care.
The Joint Commission published a Field Guide, which includes recommendations for training topics. The publication also discusses how providers can be inclusive of LGBTQIA+ employees, such as through recruitment and hiring, and employee support.
If you have any questions regarding how to improve patient care for the LGBTQIA+ community, or about LGBTQIA+ in healthcare in general, please don’t hesitate to contact BMD Health Law Group Member Jeana M. Singleton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-253-2001, or BMD Attorney Rachel Stermer at email@example.com or 330-253-2019.