Giving LGBTQ Patients A Voice at the University of Miami Hospital

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As healthcare surges forward into the digital age, it’s easy to forget about patient inclusivity. At the University of Miami Hospital (UMH), that isn’t the case. Part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, UMH is already known for being one of the only hospitals in the nation to perform gender affirming surgery and is now pioneering an effort to ensure that LGBTQ-identifying patients are also considered during the transition into digital rounding.

Recently, UMH embraced CipherRounds, CipherHealth’s digital rounding solution, in order to better coordinate, review, and check up on patients whilst in the hospital. Although previously relying on pen and paper, UMH nurses have taken the progressive initiative to transfer the rounding process to an iPad. They have worked with CipherHealth to develop specific rounding scripts that function as customizable patient surveys depending on the patient’s reason for visiting the hospital. For instance, a surgical patient’s script would be different from a patient with an infectious disease.

However, UMH has also recognized that patients do not solely differ based on their physical ailments. LGBTQ patients, for instance, may not have the same health inquiries as a heterosexual patient. Therefore, UMH and CipherHealth worked together to create the first-ever LGBTQ digital rounding script.

“It’s incredible that we’re able to comfortably give LGBTQ patients a voice in healthcare,” said Lauren Foster, Director of LGBTQ Services at UMH. “The rounding script definitely brings inclusivity into the tech movement.”

The script starts off by asking patients about how they would identify their gender/sexuality. If a patient notes they are LGBTQ-identifying, the survey will then ask the patient to rate their rounding experience and hospital stay. A patient can expect to see questions like:

  1. During your interactions at the hospital, have members of the care team consistently respected your gender identity and expression?
  2. During your interactions at the hospital, have members of the care team consistently respected your sexual orientation?
  3. If you have a partner, has the care team been respectful and inclusive in their interactions?
  4. Is there anything we could do to improve your care or experience here?

By allowing LGBTQ-identifying patients to rate their stay in regards to how staff members are interacting with them, UMH is actively demonstrating that its staff cares about the services they provide and believe in honoring the patient’s preferences. “We really want our patients to feel comfortable here,” stated Christy Ugarte, a Clinical Practice Specialist-Nursing Administrator at UMH. “The national tragedy in June at the nightclub in Orlando really shook people’s roots, LGBTQ and otherwise, and it’s important to create safe spaces. We at UMH believe that a hospital should not be excluded from that.”

Today, UMH continues to implement the LGBTQ rounding script to much positive acclaim. Patients take the inclusivity initiative very seriously and are thrilled when they see the survey questions. One anonymous patient even stated that he was “so happy with the UMH staff and the way they deal with trans patients.” Although very satisfied with the rounding solution, providers at UMH don’t stop there. They are urging physicians and nurses at other hospitals to do the same. In the words of those providers, “It’s just good healthcare.”

As CipherHealth’s Chief Nursing Officer, Lisa Romano, MSN, RN brings more than 25 years of experience in clinical practice, healthcare IT strategy, and healthcare operations to her current role. Prior to previous CNO roles, Lisa spent 19 years as a nurse and hospital administrator at Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network in Allentown, PA, where she was responsible for all patient flow and transfer center operations as well as numerous quality and patient satisfaction initiatives. Lisa is passionate about improving the health of patients across the healthcare continuum.