Barbara Gottlieb (center) reviews care plans with Harvard Medical School trainees Blanca Morales Temich and Alma Onate Munoz.

On June 6, Brigham Health added “LGBT Health” as a clinical interest in 65 providers’ profiles in the Physician Directory. The listings – the first wave of a phased rollout – will enable LGBT patients to easily find clinicians who have demonstrated an understanding of and sensitivity to their health concerns.

While many LGBT patients have positive experiences with their care providers, those who have experienced discrimination or inappropriate comments often avoid seeking care, said Pothik Chatterjee, MBA, chair of the Brigham Health LGBT & Allies Employee Resource Group. Flagging specific providers as specialized in LGBT health can help patients feel more confident about the quality of care they receive, he noted.

“It can be challenging for anyone to navigate the health care system. That is especially true for LGBT patients, particularly transgender patients, some of whom have had negative experiences or received inadequate care. Transgender patients in particular are placed in a vulnerable situation when they are addressed by the incorrect pronoun in the doctor’s office or exam room,” said Chatterjee. “With this effort, LGBT patients can identify providers at the Brigham who have competency, experience and interest in LGBT health.”

Becoming ‘A Better Clinician for All My Patients’

The initial rollout targets specialties where demand is greatest: Emergency Medicine, Endocrinology, Infectious Disease, Internal Medicine and Primary Care, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Surgery. The project will expand to Psychiatry, Social Work and more.

Providers in the pilot group were asked to complete a survey indicating whether they have LGBT patients, feel knowledgeable about LGBT health and have completed, or would be willing to complete, a training program about LGBT health. Clinicians had to respond “yes” to all three to be listed as an LGBT Health provider.

One of those providers is Barbara Gottlieb, MD, a primary care physician at Brookside Community Health Center, who eagerly completed the survey. Striving to make patients feel safe and comfortable, Gottlieb has sought out educational resources and training opportunities around LGBT health over the years.

“As a provider, I need to make sure I’m aware of what patients need based on evidence, not assumptions or stereotypes,” she said. “What I’ve learned over the years is that educating myself about how to improve care for one patient population that may be underserved or have special needs makes me a better clinician for all my patients.”

The effort was spearheaded by the LGBT Health Work Group, led by Robert Barbieri, MD, chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Giles Boland, MD, FACR, chair of Radiology; Jessica Dudley, chief medical officer of the BWPO; Richard Gitomer, MD, vice chair of Primary Care; and leaders from the employee resource group.

“Brigham Health clinicians are enthusiastic about providing a welcoming and safe care environment for all of our patients, which include members of the LGBTQ community,” Barbieri said. “I am confident many more skilled Brigham Health clinicians will add LGBT Health to their Physician Directory listing.”

The initiative is one of several aimed at improving the experiences of LGBT patients, visitors and employees. In addition, new signs outside of single-stall restrooms show unisex icons – depicting a man and woman – to indicate anyone may use them. Previously, single-stall bathrooms were reserved for either men or women. More than 50 restrooms will have the new signs by the end of summer.

To learn more about how clinicians can add LGBT Health to their Physician Directory listing, email bwhclgbt@partners.orgView the list of providers specializing in LGBT Health.

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