Choosing a primary care physician can be a daunting challenge for anyone, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ patients are more likely to delay receiving care due to the fear of not finding a provider they can trust, which can lead to missed health maintenance and late diagnosis of medical problems. Hopefully, your primary care provider (PCP) is the person who will be your healthcare leader for years to come. It’s important that your PCP is someone who you can trust all the details of your life in order to have the best therapeutic relationship. For the LBGTQ+ community, it may be difficult navigating how to find the right provider for you.
How to get started
One of the best ways to find a provider experienced with the LGBTQ+ community is to ask your LGBTQ+ friends and family who they go to and how they feel about their provider. Receiving a referral from a friend or family member of a patient is one of the best compliments a provider can get. While some physicians work in private practice, many practice in group settings, such as Ochsner Health. Ochsner offers a multidisciplinary team for our LGBTQ+ patients.
It’s also important to look at your physician’s group or organization’s LGBTQ+ services and quality metrics, such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The HRC provides information and resources to educate the public and foster sound public policy to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the U.S. and abroad. At Ochsner, we have been recognized as “Top Performers” in caring for LGBTQ+ patients by the Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) . The Healthcare Equality Index evaluates healthcare facilities for their dedication to the equitable treatment and inclusion of their LGBTQ+ patients, visitors and employees. Ochsner has an LGBTQ+ inclusive patient nondiscrimination, visitation and employment nondiscrimination policies.
If the provider’s organization is not actively supportive of the LGBTQ+ community, it may be difficult to feel supported if you need to receive services from other specialties. You should look for doctors within organizations who offer specialized LGBTQ+ services, such as gay health services and transgender clinics. Also, reading reviews of doctors on the internet can be helpful. However, keep in mind that people tend to only write reviews if they’ve had an exceptional experience or a poor experience so it may not be representative of all their patients. Some organizations recognize that there are considerable health disparities in the LGBTQ+ community and have tried to make this process easier by recognizing LGBTQ+ experienced providers. Click here to learn more about Ochsner’s LGBTQ+ experienced providers.
After you’ve identified a person who you think will be a good fit, set up an appointment to meet them and review your medical history, current issues and health goals. At your first appointment, you should:
- Pay attention to how they ask questions about your sexual or social health.
- Ask them about their comfort level with your healthcare needs. This will give you a sense of if you feel supported by this provider and if it’s someone who you want to continue seeing.
- Assess how you feel after your first appointment. A provider who is a great fit for one person may not be for another.
If the therapeutic relationship is not working, it’s important to seek someone who you do trust. Doctors and primary care physicians are here to help manage all your healthcare needs.
At Ochsner, the services that we offer include gay and bisexual men’s health, lesbian and bisexual women’s health, LGBTQ+ youth services, pediatric gender-affirming services, adult transgender health and transgender multidisciplinary clinic and spiritual care.