SEAFORD — In an effort to enhance that care and to gain a better understanding of patients and their emotional needs, TidalHealth will soon begin asking everyone registering for service or care some new questions concerning sexual orientation and gender identity — or “SOGI.”
The questions are already routine at TidalHealth Peninsula Regional and many affiliated offices. With the expansion of its electronic medical record to encompass the whole health system in July, TidalHealth will now be able to gather this date for all patients, to ensure all are being provided the best care possible.
As everyone (with the exception of infants and young children) will be asked these questions, no one should feel singled out.
“We cannot make assumptions about an individual’s gender at birth or how they identify their gender today without asking more questions. Those answers, like whether someone was born male and now identifies as another gender, is critical information for the healthcare team,” Dr. Kathryn Fiddler, TidalHealth vice president of Population Health, said in a prepared statement. “The information they share, like all health information in their medical record, is private and protected by law. Also, it’s critical to receiving the right care at the right time and place, and it’s just the right thing to do to be the most sensitive and responsive to our patients’ needs.”
Learning about a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity at registration will help TidalHealth to deliver person-centered appropriate healthcare services, improve care and patient safety for everyone throughout their stay.
“To be at our best, we need to know a person’s sex at birth (how they were born), their legal sex (how it appears on an identification card) and their gender identity (how they identify today),” added Dr. Fiddler. “We realize for some people it may seem uncomfortable or unnecessary, but SOGI is part of guaranteeing your provider has the correct information to safely diagnose your illness and design the most appropriate plan of care.”
The process is part of the national “Healthy People” initiative by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to address health disparities. It has practical, immediate applications as well as the ability to look at populations as a whole. For example, while someone being treated at may present or appear to be a female, she may have actually been born a man, and therefore have medical needs that are still unique to the male population, like prostate issues.
By being sensitive to a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity, TidalHealth will also be able to determine if there are gaps in care or the services it provides across all populations. SOGI data will help extend that mission by providing more targeted care and interventions for specific populations on the Delmarva Peninsula, with the goal of improving health outcomes for all.