Engaging SGM Patients in Meaningful Ways

Before we discuss steps for advancing organizational change, we must consider the importance of including community members in efforts to improve services at your clinic. SGM patients, their families, and their allies are often willing to share their experiences to support changes in healthcare practices and policies.1  They can shed light on what is working well, what could be working better, and what is missing altogether in the clinic to best support the healthcare needs of SGM people. They can also advise the Implementation Team on specific things that the clinic might do to enhance or expand its services for SGM patients. Additionally, their advice can assist in tailoring implementation materials, so they do not neglect linguistic terminology and naming preferences, cultural aspects of patient-provider communication and care delivery, or fruitful strategies for outreach and education in communities.

Inviting patients to shape SGM competent care at the clinic is fundamental to the success of organizational change. Because SGM people are racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse, it is critical to consider these and other intersections when determining what SGM competent care should look like.

For clinics to serve SGM patients optimally and facilitate practice-level improvements, we encourage the clinic’s leaders, administrators, providers, and staff to:

  1. Promote a two-way exchange of ideas and information by recruiting one or more members of the local SGM community to participate in the clinic’s governing body or an advisory board;
  2. Invite SGM community members to take part in panels to discuss issues that are meaningful to them to reinforce SGM education and cultural sensitivity training among staff and providers;
  3. Place the needs and desires of SGM patients at the center of health and healthcare quality improvement efforts by distributing a survey or conducting focus groups with questions pertinent to their communication preferences, health, and healthcare needs;
  4. Provide SGM specific information and education on-site at the clinic and when conducting health outreach activities at events in the community; and
  5. Ensure the utmost care when receiving feedback, as the traumatic events that may shape the perspectives of SGM patients must be validated and taken seriously to avoid re-traumatization (Appendix B).