Monday, April 9, 2018

Conference Preview: Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Patients: Cultural Sensitivity and the Healthcare Industry

Session Title: Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Patients: Cultural Sensitivity and the Healthcare Industry

Presenter: Amanda Watson

Learning Lab: Series 5

Date/Time: May 5, 4:00 p.m.

About the Learning Lab

Over the past five to 10 years, the topic of transgender patients has come up frequently as an important issue in healthcare. I frequently hear questions like, “What does transgender mean?” and “I am sure we do not even see these kinds of patients. Why is this even important?” While many people feel that transgender is a new concept, you may be surprised to find that transgender individuals have existed for centuries in many cultures, potentially going back to the earliest of recorded times. The first known reassignment surgery occurred in 1931 under the hands of Magnus Hirschfeld in Berlin.

There appears to be an increasing number of transgender persons presenting in the last several years because of expanded healthcare benefits and transgender visibility. Healthcare providers need to be culturally prepared to handle patients that are transgender or gender non-conforming for many reasons. As a healthcare provider, we must always work to provide a positive healthcare experience to maximize patient satisfaction. 

A recent survey of transgender and gender non-conforming patient shows some alarming statistics. Of the individuals that have attempted to access healthcare in the year prior, 33 percent noted at least one negative experience based on their identity. An additional 23 percent did not seek treatment when they needed to due to fear of mistreatment. The survey results also found that 40 percent have attempted suicide at one point in their life, due to overwhelming depression and lack of support and/or resources. Please note that the suicide attempt rates for the general population is only 4 percent.

Transgender and gender non-confirming people suffer significant healthcare barriers in accessing care. Additionally, in Meaningful User Stage 3 (MU3), the directive requires that the electronic health record (EHR) have the ability to collect sexual orientation and gender identity.  One of the main goals for Healthy People 2020 is to improve access to comprehensive, quality healthcare services, while improving the health, safety, and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. The American Medical Association House of Delegates stated in a 2017 session that a focus must be to “inform and educate the medical community and the public on the medical spectrum of gender identity.”

Your organization can improve the lives of these patients by making some small changes. The first is ensuring that it has clear policies on non-discrimination. Teach staff to use neutral language until you are familiar with what the patient prefers. Challenge stereotyping of any individuals. Encourage and allow disagreement on issues of gender identity, sexual orientation, and civil rights. In this learning lab, you will learn how to establish a method for your HER to capture Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) data to ensure a positive experience for all transgender and gender non-conforming patients.

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