6.22 webinar

Celebrate Pride by creating an inclusive care environment for the LGBTQIA+ patient community

July 1, 2022
July 1, 2022

This blog is taken from a recent HealthStream webinar. The webinar was moderated by HealthStream’s Jaclyn Franklin, Product Marketing Coordinator and featured HealthStream’s Director of Health Equity & Belonging, Maria Flowers, MHA and Evan McEwing, DNP, Director of Content Development.

The webinar celebrated the LGBTQIA+ community and informed participants about how to create a safe and comfortable environment in the workplace and how to welcome this community into your healthcare organization in a way that will provide safe and affirming care.

Let’s Start With the Acronym…

Part of creating a safe and inclusive environment is understanding the meaning of the acronym and the appropriate way to use it. McEwing began by breaking down the acronym:

  • L - lesbian
  • G - gay
  • B - bisexual
  • T - transgender
  • Q – queer or questioning
  • I - intersexual
  • A – asexual, aromantic or ally
  • + - captures additional identities that may not be included in the initial acronym

McEwing further explained that lesbian, gay and bisexual describe romantic or sexual attraction while transgender is more about how the person identifies themselves.

He went on to share that the language around diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is continuing to evolve and had some advice on how to deal with worries about whether or not it is offensive to use the acronym incorrectly. “If you are genuine and authentic in terms of what you are communicating and you make a mistake, most people will understand that your intentions are good,” said McEwing.

LGBTQIA+ - Facing Health Disparities

McEwing began by describing four broad categories of health disparities faced by this community:

  • Disparities among adolescents
  • Disparities among adults
  • Access to care
  • Quality of care

McEwing shared that these broad categories of health disparities overlap often, frequently begin in adolescence, and likely continue throughout life. Adolescents may experience bullying related to their gender identity that can lead to depression and anxiety and, in the most serious cases, suicidal ideation or attempts, making mental health services critical. McEwing further shared that “It is important to note that while these disparities can show up in adolescence, they can persist and be exacerbated in adulthood.”

Further exacerbating disparity issues are the conscious and unconscious biases of healthcare workers. McEwing pointed to the alarming number of LGBTQIA+ people reporting some type of harassment by healthcare workers, including everything from verbal to physical assaults.

In addition, LGBTQIA+ people also report having to teach their healthcare providers about their healthcare issues in order to receive proper care.

Providing Affirming Care

Flowers emphasized the importance of providing affirming care – care that affirms the patient’s gender identity as well as care that may include surgery or other interventions to confirm a patient’s gender identity.

McEwing encouraged healthcare providers to remember that providing affirming care includes both the social and clinical elements of care and that means providing affirming care from appointment setting through to billing. “The optimized care for this and all patient populations is a cross-disciplinary approach which requires a team of people who are all on board and committed to providing affirming care,” said McEwing.

Building Inclusive Workplaces

Flowers pointed to the importance of creating workplaces that are inclusive and shared some of the ways in which HealthStream has sought to be inclusive. She encouraged organizations to respect the identity of all team members. “At HealthStream, colleagues are able to add pronouns to their email signature line or that of their team’s name to help others respect and recognize what their pronouns are,” said Flowers. She also added that while organizational culture and policies that promote inclusivity are important, it is also important to remember that the day-to-day interaction with colleagues and managers is what will largely drive perceptions about whether or not that culture is truly inclusive. Flowers also added that “HealthStream has been very intentional about health equity and belonging and that the leadership team has created a diversity, equity and inclusion point-of-view statement which is available on the company’s website.

Education Solutions To Protect the Health of LGBTQIA+ People and Build an Inclusive Workplace

Health equity education is foundational to building a diverse and inclusive culture for employees and to creating healthcare organizations that can improve health equity. HealthStream’s Health Equity and Belonging Education does both. “The program includes more than 55 courses that address topics of health equity and belonging,” said Flowers. Flowers drew special attention to the course entitled “Creating a Welcoming Environment for the LGBTQIA+ Patient which has a designation from the Human Rights Campaign for the Healthcare Equality Index.