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Lantern Transgender Care Research Project

Kaiser Permanente Innovation Consultancy


The statistics are alarming:

  • Forty-one percent of transgender people in the US aged 18 and over attempt suicide. That’s a rate nine times higher than the overall population.
  • Transgender people also fare poorly in health care settings: 25% report harassment and 2% report being victims of violence in medical settings.
For transgender populations, accessing medical care can mean being disrespected, mis-gendered, asked inappropriate questions, or even refused care. Yet individuals who forgo transition services such as gender-reassignment surgery and ongoing hormone therapy are more likely to develop other health issues, such as depression, suicidality, HIV, and drug abuse.

A 2011 study by the Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission appearing in the Journal of General Internal Medicine estimated the avoidable costs of these health issues at an annual $11,000 per patient. 
Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest health plans serving more than 10.6 million members, saw an opportunity to eliminate disparities and provide equal care for all of their members.

The Kaiser Permanente Innovation Consultancy began the Lantern Team Project, a design research initiative to understand the diverse needs, challenges, and goals of transgender individuals.

The team led research with transgender individuals varying in age and stage of transition, also talking with family members and loved ones. 

Although the primary goal of Lantern was to provide insights to help improve the care experience, outcomes also include both member and employee attraction and retention. As one Kaiser employee said:

"I've never been more proud to be part of this organization. As a health care provider for everyone in our community, are truly walking the walk when we consider the needs of our diverse membership.”

As described by a research participant:

"Being in a room mixed with allies and trans people is probably the most healing and life-affirming thing I can think of. It's actually better than going to a support group solely for trans folk. To be seen by non-trans people and not only seen but deeply valued for what we have to offer is a gift beyond words. ... Your genuine interest in my story and perspective did wonders for me when advocating for my own health care outside of Kaiser. I became a better advocate for myself because I saw that it is possible to be treated with respect and dignity and that I deserved this." 

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