Beyond the fear of discrimination, it's hard for transgender people to find medical care in rural areas because there are far fewer doctors and nurses competent in transgender care. And that's on top of the challenges cisgender people face in finding rural medical care: long drives and long waits to receive care.
That's why Izzy Lowell, an Atlanta family practitioner who specializes in transgender care, created QMed in 2017. Transgender or gender non-conforming patients in the Southeast can set up telemedicine appointments with Lowell in which she addresses sensitive topics like body changes or sexual function. To ensure privacy, Lowell uses headphones during webcam visits and uses white noise machines in her waiting room for in-person visits.
As with other telemedicine services, lack of reliable, affordable broadband may be a barrier for potential patients. And though 32 states have laws mandating that private insurance companies compensate doctors as much for telemedicine appointments as they do for in-person appointments, telemedicine providers in other states may struggle to get reimbursed and turn a profit, Landman reports.
Lowell reports that, less than a year after starting QMed, she's almost covered her startup costs and will soon turn a profit. But she says the administrative headaches are worth it. "The current system is not at all fair to transgender people," she told Landman. "And I don't like unfairness."