How many times have you felt just a wee bit uncomfortable talking to your obviously straight male doctor about anal sex, or turning and coughing for a female physician? Well, those days may soon be behind you.
Introducing SpectrumScores, a new app that aims to connect LGBTQ patients with LGTBQ and LGBTQ-friendly health care providers.
The app is the brainchild of Phil Williams, a second-year med student at Penn State. When he was 11 years old, Williams told his doctor that he was gay. The doctor, in response, referred to a mental health care provider.
The experience, which stuck with Williams well into adulthood, inspired him to find a way to help LGBTQ patients find less judgmental, more inclusive doctors.
SpectrumScores allows users to search, rate, and review health care providers based on four different categories: a welcoming environment, inclusive policies, LGBTQ specific knowledge, and an aggregation of the three rankings. The information will be supplied by LGBTQ advocacy groups, medical centers and, eventually, by app-users themselves.
“Despite improvements in several areas, LGBTQ+ people continue to face significant disparities in terms of healthcare access and outcomes,” the app’s About page explains. “SpectrumScores will empower you to take healthcare back into your own hands by offering an intuitive ranking and review system for physicians across disciplines on the basis of their LGBTQ+ competence.”
The app, which is about to begin beta testing, is being developed by Williams and two other medical students, Jun Jeon and Naven Jain.
“We envision building a community where LGBTQ+ patients can leverage their experiences so that nobody has to feel left in the dark anymore when it comes to healthcare,” Williams tells Philly Mag.
“SpectrumScores isn’t just an app, it’s a mission,” Jeon adds. “Accessibility to proper healthcare is a fundamental human right, no matter where you lie on the spectrum.”
He points to a recent nationwide study showed that more than half of LGBTQ patients have reported discrimination in healthcare settings.
SpectrumScores will launch in select cities, including New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, with plans underway to expand across the United States.