Inclusivity in Healthcare: How to Foster Support for the LGBTQ+ Community
Many of us feel a bit of trepidation when going to the doctor’s office. Often, we are confronted with the health-related questions that have been pushed to the back of our minds throughout the year leading up to the visit. “Should I get this looked at?” “I haven’t been feeling quite right.” “When should I start thinking about this?” So on, and so forth.
Everyone has their specific questions and unique issues that require open discussion in order to receive the appropriate attention and treatment. Unfortunately some people, including members of the LGBTQ+ community, are at greater risk of negative experiences, which can make it difficult to have important conversations because of concerns about being treated differently. When it comes to inclusive healthcare, here are some ways to foster a more supportive environment within your clinical setting and around healthcare benefits.
Create a welcoming environment
Premise Health’s vice president of clinical operations, Meghan McManama, spoke with Employee Business News about the broader medical community’s efforts over her career in creating best practices and standards of care for LGBTQ+ individuals. She promotes practices that can lead to better experiences and outcomes in the exam room. For example, healthcare providers can create a welcoming environment by displaying inclusive posters or slogans. They also can ask for a patient’s pronouns, sexual orientation, and gender identity at the beginning of an encounter, to correct any biased language or assumptions based on a patient’s appearance. By getting comfortable with talking about how both sexual orientation and a patient’s gender identity affect their health, providers can ensure they’re on the same page as their patients and build trusted relationships that improve health over time.
Learn more about the LGBTQ+ community
The LGBTQ+ community includes a broad range of individuals with various backgrounds, behaviors, identities, and social determinants of health. So, there are a wide range of factors that can affect individuals’ health and wellbeing. Plenty of resources are available to help providers familiarize themselves with many different types of identities. One reputable resource is the National LGBT Health and Education Center’s, “Providing Inclusive Services and Care for LGBT People: A Guide for Health Care Staff.”
Healthcare providers regularly tailor their care approaches to the intricacies of patients’ health profiles, including factors like family history and ethnic predispositions. Referencing reputable resources to learn about the LGBTQ+ community is part of providing culturally competent and inclusive care that promotes health and wellbeing and leads to a better quality of life.
Lead by example
In addition to healthcare providers, employers also have a responsibility to their LGBTQ+ workers to ensure their healthcare offerings are representative of their employees’ needs. Inclusive benefits also support employers’ goals to recruit, hire, and retain top talent, as benefits are a key motivator for employees when they are considering whether to start or stay at a job.
A major project that quantifies the impact of an effective benefits strategy regarding LGBTQ+ protections and considerations is the annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI) report published by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF). This report rates employers on four main sets of criteria: nondiscrimination policies across business entities, equitable benefits for LGBTQ+ workers and their families, support for an inclusive culture, and corporate social responsibility. Through HCRF’s continued work with various companies, they’ve seen gradual, yet significant increases in these metrics over the past 20 years, including concrete examples of change like the implementation of nondiscrimination policies, spousal and domestic partner medical and other benefits, and creation of LGBTQ+ employee resource groups and diversity councils.
Employers and human resources leaders can use the report to frame conversations about inclusivity in their benefits strategies and workplace policies. For those organizations who are just getting started, the report can also be a helpful and influential guide for “what’s possible.” It features many of the Fortune 1000 and 500 companies who are already leading the charge in this area, while showcasing how important LGBTQ+ protections are on a larger international scale.
Getting the proper care that one needs shouldn’t be avoided for any reason. Yet, there are many factors that contribute to people putting off care, including experiencing discrimination in a healthcare setting, a current lack of inclusive benefits, or other personal reasons. However, there are ways that healthcare providers and employers can encourage individuals to get the proper medical care they need. Supporting the LGBTQ+ community in their pursuit of healthcare access and affordability requires respect and understanding. Providers can create the space for inclusion and understanding once the employee enters the clinical setting, while employers can re-evaluate their benefits plans to offer inclusive healthcare solutions for their employees and their families. Care for LGBTQ+ patients is attainable and should be a priority.
Premise Health is committed to providing an inclusive clinical experience for the LGBTQ+ community. If you’re interested in learning more about how to maximize your benefits plan to cater to your diverse workforce population, get in contact with Premise Health today.