Innovation in Action - The first digitally native LGBTQIA+ health provider pushes the boundaries of healthcare delivery models

By Carley Thornell | September 13, 2022


Innovation is about a lot more than technology. It’s also about new ways of thinking. Across the athenahealth network, healthcare organizations are meeting challenges head-on with fresh approaches to revolutionize care delivery models, increase access, and enhance the day-to-day experiences of patients and clinicians alike.

Here is one of them:

In an era when access to gender-affirming care is increasingly varied geographically, serving patients virtually is needed more than ever before.

FOLX Health officially launched in December 2020, and is now in 33 states providing a variety of services to the LGBTQIA+ community. Thousands of members use FOLX Health’s products, including their gender-affirming hormone therapy and virtual primary care offerings. “We develop and operate industry-leading care protocols, delivered by our own community-competent providers,” says chief technology officer Ryan Scharer.

The providers are the significant differentiator for the organization, he says,  representing hundreds of years of experience delivering critical, empathetic, and expert services to a historically underserved population. According to Patient Engagement Health IT, barriers to care for this population can include everything from physical access to clinicians and knowledge gaps in how to care for transgender patients, to long appointment wait times for experienced clinicians.

FOLX’s model made them the first digitally native LGBTQIA+ health provider, and positions them to build a more equitable healthcare system.

One of their building blocks is the athenahealth platform. Scharer says that from the very beginning, it was “critical” that the company could reliably scale its services with a partner that had a modern clinical system of record and could support API-driven workflows. Creating FOLX’s game-changing telehealth offering meant Scharer’s team needed to incorporate a variety of owned and third-party services including customer relationship management and scheduling solutions, online pharmacies, labs, and more. The result is a user-friendly experience for both clinicians and patients, and a platform that helps connect the dots between technology partners while enabling flexibility to expand services. FOLX Health expects to offer care in all 50 states by year’s end.

Read more Innovation in Action stories here and here.

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