News & Views

Feature Story

LGBTQ Patient Voices Can Reveal Powerful Insights

Richard S. Isaacs, MD, in Modern Healthcare

June 20, 2018



Richard S. Isaacs, MD, FACS Richard S. Isaacs, MD, FACS

Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and queer communities across the nation this month hold pride observances to recognize hard-won civil rights battles and to celebrate sexual diversity. Despite progress in securing freedom, rights and acceptance, LGBTQ communities still struggle with limited access to basic health care, writes Richard S. Isaacs, MD, FACS, CEO and executive director of The Permanente Medical Group, in a commentary published this week by Modern Healthcare magazine.

Dr. Isaacs also serves as president and CEO of the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group and co-CEO of The Permanente Federation.

In the commentary, “Listening to LGBTQ patient voices,” Dr. Isaacs writes that limited access to health care and mental health care has long affected LGBTQ communities because of discrimination, societal stigma, and fear. As a result, members of LGBTQ communities face greater health challenges and poorer health outcomes than the general population. These poorer health outcomes range from higher risk factors for heart disease among lesbian women to greater risk of mental health conditions including substance abuse and suicide.

To reduce health disparities and increase access to basic care, Dr. Isaacs shares how the Permanente Medical Groups and Kaiser Permanente have applied three approaches: an emphasis on listening to the patient voice, improved data collection for LGBTQ populations, and the development of organization-wide policies and culturally responsive training.

Most importantly, Dr. Isaacs writes of how “devoting time to listen to patients,” who may feel marginalized by society and seemingly invisible to the world, “can reveal powerful insights … that can lead to better outcomes for all.”

To read the entire commentary, visit the Modern Healthcare website.