Facing Systemic Exclusion, can the LGBTQ+ community receive better care Accessibility via HealthTech?

Healthcare is a fundamental necessity of life, but its accessibility and quality differ for different communities in India, especially for the LGBTQIA. For them, it is a privilege to get basic healthcare needs satisfied due to the deep-rooted stigma in the society. This often leads to creating gaps in essentials and basic healthcare needs. Plunged in ‘the swirl of social biases’, it is critical to address the medical needs of this community by leveraging modern healthtech platforms.

From waiting outside a clinic to booking consultations for yearly health checkups at diagnostic centers, the healthcare journey differs for each one of us. We all have our share of concerns while reaching out to a medical professional, but what if a social stigma around a human’s “partner choice” becomes the first barrier while seeking medical help?

It is generally the first thought for nearly 8% of LGBTQ+ people living in India while going for a medical visit.  

For the LGBTQIA community, discrimination and fear of non acceptance leads to care disparities. As a result, they are more prone to chronic diseases and mental health issues that may often be left unattended, degrading their quality of life. 

As a thumb rule for any thriving society, access to quality and continued care should be a basic and fundamental right and healthcare systems and the approach should be equal for all its beneficiaries irrespective of their biological gender or choice of partner.

Since, the patient experience for this special case, varies to a dipping point in India, we need to look at ways of restructuring care delivery right from its foundation. Primary care should and must evolve to be inclusive of all humans from all communities. 

The Current state of Primary care for LGBTQIA community in India

Indian LGBTQ+ comprises 104 million people, and their exclusion is relatively tied to socioeconomic status, identity and community. Moreover, poverty and distance to care centers have exacerbated the lives of LGBTQ+ communities. In a recent study by NCBI, LGBTQ+ youth are more prone to substance use, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), cancers, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, bullying, isolation, rejection, anxiety, depression, and suicide as compared to the general population.

“When medical help comes with societal barriers, they choose to suffer in silence.” 

On the flip side, the situations are different while yielding an inclusive care system with better health outcomes for anyone & everyone via TECHNOLOGY. On this side, Healthtech platforms facilitate medicos to build comfort and trust for the LGBTQIA community, to help patients get the best care possible at their fingertips.

Let us explain!

Telehealth can change the preconceived notions or experiences of the community members by connecting them with healthcare practitioners who can take care of their unique physical needs in a more confined and confidential way. While, going to a clinic might be inconvenient for most of the patients, humans from LGBTQIA community face those extra and not required “societal looks” while in the waiting area. Though this problem should not exist in the 21st century, it can be easily overcome with telemedicine. 

In the future perspective, the wave of online consultations, homecare regimes via Virtual Care modules, DIY Kits and many other care delivery mechanisms this lines will assist LGBTQIA community to connect to Mental health groups, specialists, certified hormone replacement therapy (HRT) experts, and HIV specialists while giving the patients a chance at periodic monitoring and stigma-free treatment. Assisted telemedicine kiosks will successfully help in delivery care in trans member localities and government organizations for LGBTQ+, where these standalone kiosk modules will deliver public awareness and permanent health camps.

Empowered with Rapid Test Kits and battery operated pathological machines, these freestanding care delivery modules can even provide diagnostic capabilities with privacy  to LGBTQIA community members and help in eradicating several communicable and noncommunicable diseases, right from the deepest levels. 

Wouldn’t that be a befitting and cost-effective initiative for the Health authorities and society in General? 

The surge in telemedicine in the LGBTQIA community is necessary to concurrently streamline and tailor the services for these under-served individuals.

Building Inclusive Clinical Trials

Clinical trials help the world population towards a healthier and better quality of life. However, generally speaking, members of the LGBTQIA+ community are often left out of these clinical trials. The lack of such diversity in clinical trials has significantly affected the LGBTQIA population while restricting them to only generic medications. 

Such a diversity lacking study data fails to collect the drug effects on genetic levels of these marginalized sections of the society, especially the transgender communities. And, being uncertain of the risk factors of the medications, a medical practitioner will be indecisive to write  the prescription. 

Had it been for an inclusive clinical trial which was being run on a technology platform which does not discriminate, a patient’s clinical trial participation would have been strategically recorded in EMRs to assist care professionals in the longer schema of things. 

HArbor Says

Social stigma in India has been forcing the healthcare system to be viewed under the lens of heteronormativity, sidelining the  LGBTQIA community’s needs. As a result, this has led to the negligence of their health, driving the situation to a point of concern for the entire community.

Assisted Telemedicine can significantly assist private and public care practitioners to address the community-specific health issues while spreading awareness among LGBTQIA.

Let’s Rethink, Redesign & Rebuild a healthcare system which is inclusive and caters to the medical needs of every community!

Amidst the global health crisis induced by wars & Covid, assisted telemedicine is the only ray of hope for Billions.

Unprecedented time calls for extraordinary measures, especially when lives are at stake and healthcare is pushed into the forefront. This technology-leveraged shift has not only boosted care engagement but also bridged the existing healthcare systems to the future care modules. Telemedicine continues to address care delivery challenges within the care systems  & may shine even brighter if operated via assisted care!

During the initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine usage surged as patients and doctors sought ways to access and deliver medical care. As a result, global telehealth utilization for outpatient care increased 78 times, along with tangible increased numbers for, 

  1. Patients’ engagement rates during the video consultations 
  2. Care professional’s efficiency due to virtual care convenience
  3. Contactless and faster medical care delivery
  4. Treatment and medication adherence

Moreover, a research survey by McKinsey & Company, in 2020 showed 40-60% of telehealth consumers’ interest in using ‘digital front door’ for a seamless care delivery experience & to remove barriers in providing care, while moving towards better healthcare systems. It not only helps with proactive consumer engagement, improved data integration but also improves the access to expert care, making care-giving more timely and convenient for anyone living anywhere in the world. 

Yet, how convenient it can be, while facilitating telehealth in disaster & war zones?

Since its emergence, telemedicine has developed in terms of connectivity and design; for enhancing its usability. However, these modules tend to reach their limits when used by a ‘technologically illiterate’ or a population with no resources to access video-based telehealth (VBT). Similarly, in a natural disaster or war-prone zone, a significant disruption in healthcare facilities can quickly turn the situation into a health hazard. In such cases, pre-existing basic telemedicine needs assisted care modules for delivering more than just HEALTHTECH! 

In natural disasters or war zones, assisted-virtual response enhances the care capacity while minimizing the logistical & security issues associated with deploying the care specialists. Assisted telemedicine introduces the concept of kiosk centers with trained professionals to provide round-the-clock medical care. Not only these setups can be light-weighted, but they are well equipped with basic diagnostic kits, vaccines, and medicines to provide comprehensive primary care. This futuristic digital care model will not only assist in primary care but rather will also assist in creating value-based healthcare, which involves;

  1. Quick evaluation, diagnosis & medical consultations 
  2. More active patient participation opportunities 
  3. More active patient participation opportunities
  4. Reduction in expenditure incurred while care-taking
  5. Continuity of care even after the primary consultation is delivered

 Assisted-telemedicine holds a key component to future virtual care, thereby creating a care model that integrates doctors, patients, diagnostics and other healthcare stakeholders on a single platform. That will be functional for any geographical area or any global crisis. 

Future of healthcare with Telemedicine

From “virtual urgent care” to a convenient, value-based model; Telemedicine is gradually redefining the parameters of healthcare. 

Future healthcare systems are supposed to redesign into a hybrid virtual/in-person care model to enhance the consumer experience, care access, treatment outcomes, and affordability. And, to be prepared for any healthcare delivery requirements of the future. Be it a natural disaster or war. 

HArbor Says: 

2019-2021 has given quite a boost to the Virtual Based care (VBC) model. However, at present, on the road to a post-pandemic world; Assisted Telemedicine offers a better fighting chance to reinvent virtual care models while improving healthcare access, outcome and cost-efficiency. It’s time we move towards sustainable healthcare for a future that holds healthtech at its heart. 

Hope often comes after a lesson learned and if the global crisis between 2019-2022 has taught us anything; it is to strengthen while advancing the healthcare core. And, this time assisted healthtech is our HOPE!

Digital Receptions – A step forward in healthcare delivery

Over the years, while digital care platforms have largely come up with innovate solutions to ease out operations for doctors & patients, the most crowded corner of any hospital remains to be a reception desk, still operating under heaps of paperwork and manual processes.

Manual reception desks do not only consume valuable human time but also exposes medical staff to unnecessary exposure especially during these pandemic times. A study was done at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey, USA revealed that hospital support staff is generally hit harder than doctors. This trend was later confirmed and observed during the second wave of pandemic in India too. The primary reason for such a trend was mainly associated with lesser awareness and an extremely large number of footfalls happening on the reception desk of any hospital.

The largest crowd gathering in any medical setting is always at the reception desk, where queues of patients can always be seen waiting to get themselves registered, make bill payments or even simply inquire repeatedly about their turn to see the doctors. In a country with population to doctor ratio of more than 6000:1, these problems will always be congruous with overcrowded reception desks.

How do we solve this issue in a country like India where 80% of doctors are concentrated in urban settings & 313 Million people are still illiterate?

The answer is simple – Automate the receptions, remove the humans in urban setups, remove redundancies & create infrastructure in rural India, namely Bharat. WOW! That seems quite a task but that’s the most relevant solution to the Indian healthcare industry’s underlying volcano waiting to burst out.

A digital front door with a capacity to do everything a medical staff can do while manning a reception desk is necessarily one-stop answer to all of India’s healthcare delivery problems, at least related to processes. The redundant activities of a reception desk can be easily automated to provide self-checkouts & appointment systems to the patients. Information should be displayed in a form legible to patients & all relevant stakeholders in Audio-Video formats only. Such a system would also be of particular interest to the majority of pharmaceuticals which can then use these front doors to create mass awareness amongst patients about the latest innovations in the drug world.

So these automated kiosks would result in loss of Jobs for receptionists?
Absolutely, NO!
The hospital trained medical staff can be relocated to smaller towns & villages where such kiosk would prove as single points of touch for telemedicine and registrations creating a bridge for a population with a lesser amount of literacy levels. Diagnostics, local language support, video camera and integrated network should be an essential part of such terminals, least in remote areas.

HArbor Says: In the era, where the healthcare domain is desperate for cost-effective ways to automate setups & extend care in remote locations, a digital reception will be our golden chance! A digital front door for a the clinic will provide continued care with improving patient experience to a level beyond imagination.