Our identities affect, inform, and define the ways that we experience all parts of our lives—including our relationships with healthcare. Even with increasing national visibility1, LGBTQ+2 Americans continue to face more discrimination in health settings and lower-quality healthcare compared to non-LGBTQ+ Americans. In a national survey, 12% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported having to teach their providers about their identities and needs in order to get adequate treatment. In another report, eight percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual respondents and 29% of transgender respondents said that a clinician refused to see them in the past year because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Digital health alone won’t solve for the care gap that LGBTQ+ individuals face, but it can help to work toward a more inclusive healthcare experience. At Rock Health, we’re tracking a number of existing digital health companies, such as BetterHelp (owned by Teladoc Health), Progyny, and Grand Rounds Health, that are expanding their product and service offerings to address LGBTQ+ individuals; we refer to this category of companies as “LGBTQ+-minded.” We’re also seeing the emergence of new digital health startups that focus on delivering “LGBTQ+-specific” care and services.3 2021 is already the largest funding year to date for LGBTQ+-specific companies, driven by startups Folx Health (raising $25M) and Plume ($14M).
In this post, we’ll discuss how digital health can be an especially powerful tool for the LGBTQ+ community, review different approaches that digital health startups are taking to support LGBTQ+ individuals, and highlight opportunities for queer-competent care moving forward.