In addition to those barriers, gender affirming care is not a standard part of the training most healthcare professionals receive, leaving many physicians and practitioners unprepared to provide treatments such as hormone therapy or understand the unique needs and lived experiences of trans patients. This is especially true outside of metro areas, making it difficult for LGBTQ patients in rural areas and in the suburbs to find clinicians trained to treat the community’s unique needs.
“If you go through that whole physical process of getting to the clinic, often the clinicians aren’t able to provide the care you need, or they may do it in a way that can be very nonaffirming and upsetting,” says Kirkley.
Virtual care can remove these barriers and increase access to care for LGBTQ patients, wherever they are, without creating another potentially negative healthcare experience. However, it’s important that healthcare organizations looking to provide telehealth services to the LGBTQ community understand best practices to ensure a positive experience.
Telehealth Expands Care Access for LGBTQ Patients
Virtual care companies such as Plume can source providers from all over the country. If a physician anywhere in the U.S. has the appropriate medical license for the state where the patient is, and follows the relevant laws, that physician can provide care no matter where they live.
“We’ve built a system that is virtually accessible. The core premise is to be affirming, provide joy in the healthcare experience, meet patients where they are and provide high-quality healthcare by bringing together a group of clinicians that otherwise would be unable to come together due to geographical constraints,” says Kirkley.
Plume is 100 percent virtual. Patients find the service through advertisements, community webinars, social media, blogs or word of mouth. The website takes patients to a HIPAA-compliant patient communication platform that allows them to communicate with their care team at any time via messages, phone calls or video calls. Medication information, consent forms and other resources are also available through the platform.