By Harlon Davey, first published in A Patient Voice, June 2, 2014
As healthcare evolves, there will be surveys to identify gaps in the system where a patient is at harm. Data will be collected to ensure that our healthcare machine marches towards patient-centric. Data will be analyzed to identify where we are not being universal in our healthcare, which by my definition is what patient-centric should be. All inclusive.
Data will generate results which then lead to recommendations based on the collective data of healthcare consumers. In order for the data to be relevant, for healthcare to hit the target of patient-centricity, it must be accurate. Accuracy is improved when we include all.
How many times have you filled out a form while waiting to see a Doctor, Specialist, or seek any kind of therapy? Imagine that if every time you filled out a form and one of the first questions provides only two answers and you answer to neither. Imagine what that it must feel like to be reminded every time you access healthcare that you are not on the list. That you are invisible. Excluded. How would that make you feel?
When any personal information is solicited from a consumer of healthcare and the individual is asked to identify their gender, we must include options for those that do not identify as male or female. We are excluding a community that does not have a place to put their check mark. That’s not a very nice thing to do. A human being’s data is not being truly captured and any analysis then becomes inaccurate and services and programs are not designed to respond to and reflect the needs of the community.
I myself do not have the answer as to what the third of fourth or however many boxes it takes to INCLUDE ALL, however, I would encourage consultation and consensus with the trans community – and I apologize if trans is not reflective of community standards – it’s what I am familiar with at this moment, but I am not an expert. Consult the community, they are the experts, and come to consensus on options for gender so that all can be included.
This is an easy thing to do. If you, in your capacity, design, print, distribute or collate patient information which asks consumers to identify their gender or you are in the position of filling out a form and observe this discrepancy I encourage you to please speak with, make a phone call or send an e-mail to the person whose job responsibility includes designing forms so that they will follow best practices and amend the template by September 1, 2014 (chosen arbitrarily as a starting point, I always figure back to school time is a good time to start learning lessons and making change).
To be treated with dignity. It’s your right as a patient.
If you work in healthcare it is your duty to provide it.
It’s the right thing to do.
Harlon Davey blogs about gaps in our healthcare system to bring about awareness and change, and to elevate the voice of the patient.
For more information about LGBTQ+ and Trans health, visit the Rainbow Health Ontario website.