telemedicine offers new innovation in healthcare for transgender patients
Unfortunately, there is a high percentage of transgender people who avoid doctor visits because so many healthcare provider offices are not well informed about transgender patients. A visit to a doctor’s office can be awkward for a number of reasons. Just one example is the situation that there can be differences on various forms of identification between names and gender and prefered names and true gender identities. Having to clarify such things for confused receptionists can be a source of anxiety for a transgender patient.
A recent survey performed by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that about one-third of transgender people avoid seeking medical aid for an injury or illness because they have fears of discrimination from medical professionals. The same survey revealed that half of those who were surveyed indicated that they themselves have had to educate their own doctors about transgender healthcare.
Fear of discrimination is very real considering another 2017 poll showed that 10 percent of the transgender population say they’ve experienced discrimination first-hand from healthcare providers. New mandated protections for doctors and nurses who refuse to provide healthcare for transgender patients because of their personal religious beliefs is adding to that already existing anxiety. Needless to say, religious beliefs ought to be left out of the doctor’s office, but the reality of the current political climate is less than desirable as the Trump administration in the White House overturns Obama-era regulations put in place to protect patients from discrimination.
Another challenge in transgender healthcare to consider is that in rural or remote areas it’s difficult to find doctors and nurses competent enough to understand transgender patients. The new and innovative avenue of telemedicine, medical consultations performed by video-conference over the internet offers one possible solution. This way doctors who specialize in transgender care can reach patients who may not otherwise have access to respectfully informed medical care.
Telemedicine is an exciting new field, but further innovations will be necessary to make it more viable. Rural areas often have poor internet service and that can cause video-conference connections to fail. Also, most private insurance companies pay out at rates 30 to 40 percent lower for telemedicine than face-to-face doctor’s appointments. Fortunately, many states are beginning to mandate by law that insurance companies pay as much for telemedicine services as they do for in-person visits.