All too often, feeling unwelcome or unsupported in medical settings has prevented LGBTQIA+ people from accessing the care they need; and many in the community have faced a variety of health disparities as a result of social discrimination and an absence of culturally competent care. This Pride Month, we’re highlighting five incredible LGBTQIA+ healthcare startups which are working towards making healthcare more equitable for the community. By increasing accessibility, inclusivity, and safety, these startups aren’t just boosting wellbeing, they’re eliminating barriers and working towards building a healthier world for all.
The Need For Digital Solutions For LGBTQIA+ Healthcare
Many LGBTQIA+ people have experienced discrimination in healthcare settings or know someone who has. It’s for these reasons that many approach healthcare with the expectation of a negative encounter, or even avoid accessing care altogether. Over 30% of Transgender people in the US delay healthcare for fear of discrimination or bias, and up to 50% in urban areas buy medication off of the street.
“Discrimination and transphobic violence has fueled a lot of distrust of the medical community.”
Jules Gill-Peterson, Associate Professor of English and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies
With some 18 million adults in the US – around 5.6% of the population – identifying as being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, there is currently a huge number of people lacking access to welcoming healthcare experts. Fortunately, a promising new era of apps, startups and digital solutions for the LGBTQIA+ community are gracing the scene and using their innovative approaches to bring ideas of personal, embodied care to people who have historically either avoided traditional medical care or suffered the consequences of an outdated system.
5 Startups Advancing LGBTQIA+ Healthcare
FOLX Health offers digital healthcare services designed for the LGBTQIA+ community and has quickly become a go-to for queer healthcare. The HealthTech’s completely online model allows non-binary and transgender individuals to bring the process of hormone replacement therapy straight to their home; centering the entire process to where patients are most comfortable. As a startup, FOLX has expanded rapidly since its founding in 2020, and in 2022, it launched an enterprise solution for employers. As an employer, offering these types of benefits can impact the surrounding community in a great way; it communicates solidarity and helps spread positive awareness.
“As a non-binary lesbian and healthcare industry veteran, I have seen and experienced firsthand just how broken the current system is for the queer and trans community […] It’s about time we build a platform ourselves, so Queer and Trans people feel seen, heard, and celebrated.”
A.G. Breitenstein, Founder and CEO
Included Health is a concierge healthcare platform that is focused on improving care equality for LGBTQIA+ employees, making finding quality, queer-friendly care easy. From a list that has been personally vetted, the platform connects people with providers, books appointments, translates and navigates insurance coverage questions, and coordinates authorizations and other complex needs across a care team.
“People are actively seeking out doctors and providers who are not only clinically competent, but also culturally competent in the way they interact and provide care. Included Health members are overwhelmingly seeking out providers who look and identify like them, meaning they are selecting providers based on characteristics like sexual orientation, gender, race and ethnicity. That kind of identification and understanding matters more than employers might realise.”
Colin Quinn, Co-Founder & CEO
Plume is the first and largest HealthTech company built for the transgender community. The mobile app is focused on radically increasing access to gender-affirming care, medication, and products for the trans community. Having received $38 million in funding since launch, Plume is currently planning to expand beyond hormone therapy into primary care and the behavioral realm, visualizing the app’s future as more of a community touchpoint: making gender-affirming care available to every trans person who needs it.
“The trans community has long been denied the healthcare it deserves and Plume is changing that. Our Telehealth model allows us to scale quickly in new markets and provide expert care at an affordable price for our members,”
Dr. Matthew Wetschler, Co-Founder and CEO
Finding a suitable doctor is never simple, however, for trans people it can be particularly challenging to locate one who is sensitive to their specific requirements. A location-based service called MyTransHealth links the trans community with trustworthy, knowledgeable, and compassionate healthcare professionals. Users of the search engine provided by the company are able to look for trans-friendly healthcare professionals in specialized fields like mental health and GRS surgery, as well as in areas like allergies and endocrinology.
MyTransHealth is working to provide high-quality, culturally sensitive medical treatment to all trans and gender-nonconforming people. Their mission is aimed to decrease the number of trans people that leave medical offices feeling upset or as though their doctor was unable to address their concerns as an outcome of the service.
By 2045, over half of Americans will be diverse with race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and more; yet healthcare is failing these Americans. Racial disparities alone have resulted in 3.5M life years lost in just 2020. Violet, the first health equity platform, believes the solution is at the clinical level. The HealthTech has created a proprietary framework that measures cultural competencies in clinicians and uses that data to build personal pathways that power and upskill identity-centered care for patients. Greater health outcomes are clearly visible: 84% of clinicians learning with Violet report increased inclusivity with patients and their care coordination has shown patient retention 3x the industry standard.
“Violet has created provider data that powers identity-centered care, alowing every patient to find the right provider for them. […] We won’t stop until every single patient in this country can access the care they deserve.”
Gaurang Choksi, Founder & CEO
If you’re a HealthTech advancing LGBTQIA+ healthcare and are looking to grow your team, get in touch! Our team of consultants can advise you on how to successfully scale your organization, as well as connect you with their wide network of HealthTech professionals. Alternatively, you can learn more about Storm3 and the roles and companies we work with here.