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.
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!