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OpenTelemed: Creating a Safe and Inclusive Telehealth Space for LGBTQ+ Patients

Telehealth offers a convenient and accessible way for LGBTQ+ individuals to receive quality healthcare, particularly in areas with limited affirming resources. OpenTelemed is committed to ensuring everyone feels welcome and safe, and we empower providers to deliver exceptional virtual care tailored to the unique needs of LGBTQ+ patients.

Building an Inclusive Environment:

  • Inclusive Forms and Language: Update intake forms and online assessments to reflect terminology like “sex assigned at birth,” “gender identity,” and “sexual orientation.” Offer space for patients to write in their own answers if the provided options don’t align with their experience. Move away from cis-gendered and heteronormative language, opting for terms like “caregiver” or “partner” instead of “mother/father” or “husband/wife.”
  • Staff Education: Encourage your team to participate in LGBTQ+ health education training focused on youth health, behavioral and mental health, HIV/AIDS treatment, and transgender care. This ensures culturally competent care for marginalized communities within the LGBTQ+ population, such as people of color, transgender youth, and those living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Respectful Communication: Familiarize yourself with your patient’s pronouns and preferred name beforehand. Use inclusive language like “they/them” or “ze/hir” until informed otherwise. Some patients may not prefer pronouns at all, so simply using their name is equally respectful.

Enhancing the Telehealth Workflow:

  • Privacy and Confidentiality: Ensure your virtual platform provides a secure and private space for open communication. Emphasize confidentiality at the start of each appointment, just as you would in person.
  • Accessible Resources: If you’re located outside your patient’s area, offer assistance in finding local LGBTQ+-friendly physicians and facilities for any in-person needs.
  • Telehealth Services for LGBTQ+ Patients: OpenTelemed facilitates various services beneficial to the LGBTQ+ community through telehealth:
  • Prescriptions: Antidepressants, anxiety medication, PrEP, and gender-affirming hormones are among the medications prescribable via telehealth.
  • Counseling and Therapy: Inclusive virtual therapy can address challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals, especially youth, who often lack access to LGBTQ+-focused providers in rural areas.

HIV/AIDS Management: Telehealth expands access to:

  • PrEP and PEP prescriptions
  • Lab orders for testing
  • HIV case management
  • Prevention counseling
  • HIV/AIDS counseling and therapy

Together, we can create a healthcare landscape where everyone feels safe, respected, and empowered to access the care they need. OpenTelemed stands with you in building a more inclusive and equitable future for LGBTQ+ patients through accessible and high-quality telehealth services.

Additional Resources:

  • National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center
  • LGBT Training Curricula for Behavioral Health and Primary Care Practitioners (SAMHSA)
  • Recommendations for Collecting SO/GI Patient Data (Fenway Health)
  • Health Equity Guiding Principles for Inclusive Communication (CDC)
  • Telehealth for HIV Prevention and Care Services (CDC)