Finding a health provider
Choosing the right health care provider for you is a very important decision. There is evidence that the quality of the provider-patient relationship has a direct effect on the quality of care a person receives, and on health outcomes. For GLBT persons, the ability to have a candid relationship with a health care provider who is comfortable and experienced addressing health issues of concern to sexual minorities can be extremely valuable.
If you are happy with your current health care provider, by all means stay with him or her. Good health care providers are valuable assets. If you don't have a health care provider right now, or if you aren't satisfied with your current provider, we offer some tips on finding one who is right for you. Ultimately, you will want to find a provider who is knowledgeable about any medical problems you may have and, most importantly, one with whom you feel comfortable and respected.
Ask others. Friends and colleagues are a great resource when you are looking for a health care provider. Ask people you know who their provider is and what he or she is like. Ask friends what they like and value about their providers. It can be especially helpful to ask other GLBT people for referrals.
Interview potential health care providers. Once you have a list of potential providers (make sure that your insurance is accepted, if you have it), you may chose to set up visits with several of them in their offices. Let them know you are looking for a health care provider, and would like to briefly meet and talk with them. Ask if this interview can be free, and ask how much time you will have with the provider.
The following questions can help you choose the right provider:
- What is your experience working with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender patients?
- What training have your staff have on GLBT issues?
- Who takes backup calls when you are on vacation? Are they experienced with GLBT patients?
- Do you maintain a list of GLBT friendly providers to whom you refer ? (A terrific primary provider still might refer you to a homophobic cardiologist or endocrinologist.)
- How will you maintain patient confidentiality? (This may be especially important if you are a minor and you aren't "out" to your parent/guardian.)
- Are you willing to work with my other providers? (This is important if you decide to work with alternative health care providers such as naturopaths or acupuncturists.)
- What do you think your patients appreciate most about you?