4 Ways Telehealth Can Deliver Culturally Competent Care for AAPI Patients
In honor of AAPI month, we investigate ways telehealth and remote care options such as at-home diagnostic testing can improve health outcomes for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. AAPI patients can encounter barriers to care as a result of medical discrimination, lack of financial assistance, and language barriers, but also face cultural stigma when it comes to pursuing certain types of medical care. In this blog, we discuss how providers and public health officials, as well as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders patients themselves, can take advantage of telehealth.
1. Virtual mental health care for all AAPI people, but especially LGBTQ+ patients
Some AAPI communities encounter and enforce stigma around accessing mental health care. Research and data collected from the National Latino and Asian American Study suggests Asian Americans are three times less likely to seek mental health services than white Americans. A separate study from The University of Maryland School of Public Health reviewed mental health needs in Asian American young adults, and reported several common sources of stress in participants, such as parental pressure to succeed in academics, cultural pressure to dismiss symptoms, family obligations, and cultural or racial discrimination, all of which factor into ongoing mental health concerns.
LGBTQ+ Asian Americans and Pacific Islander patients may face additional stressors and stigma that impact their likelihood to pursue mental health care. These patients often experience dual pressures of anti-Asian and anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, which includes high rates of school-based bullying and parental and family rejection.
Virtual mental health services can provide a discrete alternative to in-person care for Asian Americans and Pacific Islander communities. With virtual care, AAPI patients can choose from a wider pool of providers who may have personal experience with Asian American and Pacific Islander issues, which can increase long-term compliance and success. In particular, the United States Department of Health and Human Services notes telehealth as a safe, convenient way for LGBTQ+ patients to access healthcare when they do not feel comfortable with in-person services.
2. Remote diabetes management services for high-risk AAPI patients
One in three Asian Americans with diabetes are unaware they have it, compared to one in five white Americans. People of Asian descent often store subcutaneous fat, which is a major risk factor for diabetes. In particular, Chinese Americans suffer from type 2 diabetes up to twice the rate of white Americans.
In a review of medical literature conducted by the Asian/Pacific Island Nursing Journal, researchers found that it was possible to reduce patient HbA1c levels in Asian Americans and Pacific Islander patients over telehealth, so long as nurses facilitated follow up care within 6 to 12 months. Not only are advances in healthcare technology such as telemonitoring more economical for diabetes patients, but they allow Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to be more involved in their own care.
3. Discreet screening for hepatitis B with at-home diagnostic tests
Asian Americans are twice as likely to develop chronic hepatitis B compared to white Americans, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health report, and eight times more likely to die from hepatitis B. HBV is transmitted through blood, semen, or another body fluid.
Researchers speculate that many Asian Americans became infected with hepatitis B before entering the United States, as countries like Vietnam, Mongolia, Laos, China, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore and Cambodia have a higher prevalence of HBV. Remote HVB screening at home alongside in-office testing can make HBV care more accessible to these communities.
Chat with Ash Wellness about HBV screening with remote diagnostics for your patient population.
4. Access to health care interpreters from anywhere in the country
One major barrier to care for some Asian American and Pacific Islander patients are the lack of English language skills for medical settings. Even patients with conversational English abilities may struggle to describe intimate or medical details in a second language.
In one study, fifty-seven percent of Cambodian women reported difficulty accessing care due to a lack of interpreters. While larger institutions may offer medical interpreter services, many smaller clinics are unlikely to provide specialized language assistance. Telehealth enables patients to search for and chat with providers across the country that either speak their preferred language or provide an interpreter to intercede.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders face medical barriers, cultural concerns, and unique health challenges that make it difficult to receive appropriate care compared to white Americans. Providers interested in reaching Asian American patient populations should consider telehealth advancements such as at-home diagnostics and telemonitoring to provide culturally competent care options.
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