The telehealth market has grown dramatically over the past year. In fact, at the start of 2020, before the pandemic, the use of telemedicine platforms had seen a 33% increase. This sector’s success continues.
It’s easy to understand why. Telemedicine’s numerous advantages include allowing anyone access to care, regardless of their geographic location; eliminating illness exposure risk (a “must” in these troubled times); and making some patients feel more at ease due to their familiar surroundings.
One benefit of telehealth that we may not immediately think of is serving underrepresented or often misunderstood groups. Several telehealth platforms that were created to do just that were spotlighted in a recent article on Healthline.com.
One of the platforms, FOLX, focuses on members of the LGBTQIA+ community. This includes connecting users to supportive healthcare providers, as well as providing access to treatments, including hormones and PrEP.
Founder A.G. Breitenstein also wants to give members of the LGBTQIA+ community a safe space. Breitenstein notes that 1 in 5 transgender and gender nonconforming people have been refused medical care, and many are concerned about visiting doctors’ offices.
This priority is clear the moment you load the site’s homepage. Proudly shot photographs of community members and slogans and phrases that include “Queer & Trans Health, Delivered on Our Terms”, and “From HRT to PrEP, no ignorance, no judgment, no hassle” leap to the visitor’s eye.
Startup platform Tia is another specialized telehealth service, this time catering specifically to women. Founder Carolyn Witte explains that reproductive health is often the focus of women’s health but there are many other health issues and challenges that women face. Her platform offers an integrated approach, with a goal of both helping women find and consult healthcare providers, and keeping them informed about health in general.
The platform is especially sensitive to victims of trauma, with a 40-minute meeting that allows new users to talk about their health history, as well as trauma they might have experienced.
Like FOLX, Tia’s website has a bold design. Its featured sections include “Mental Health” alongside “Primary Care” and “Gynecology”. The language used feels welcoming but also straightforward, a refreshing antidote to the condescension or double-talk many women may have experienced in traditional healthcare.
But it isn’t just minority or misunderstood groups that can benefit from specially tailored telehealth services. The article also discusses tethr, a startup that was created to promote better mental health among men.
Studies show that while a high percentage of men report feeling anxious or depressed, nearly half of them would only seek out a mental health professional if they had reached a point of suicidal thoughts or self-harm.
According to tethr co-founder Addison Brasil, studies also show that men tend to follow the behavior of other men when it comes to mental health, and so, with that in mind, he and Zerker created a platform that allows men to connect with one another to discuss their mental health issues, as well as offer advice to others.
tethr isn’t a telehealth platform in the typical sense; it doesn’t offer members access to mental health professionals, for instance. But maybe by talking about their issues, at least some of the men on the platform will seek out this help if they need it – especially if they know that others would do the same.
All three of these telehealth platforms show the range of possibilities for telemedicine. Not only can this relatively new concept make healthcare more accessible to millions of people; with the right focus and the right words, it can be a way for some patients to get the care they need for the first time in their life.
Contact Our Writer – Alysa Salzberg