We had just moved to Philadelphia so that Nic could attend medical school and we were both trying to establish care with a primary doctor. Cat had very recently had a terrible doctor experience and she didn’t want to go through that again. So she turned to a queer Philly-area Facebook group. The posts were all over the place and generally inefficient to sift through.
While scrolling through the group, we noticed posts asking for doctor recommendations cropping up over and over again. It made sense- the LGBTQ community in particular finds themselves “shopping” for good healthcare, attempting to find a provider that is both respectful and competent. A bad experience can create unsafe spaces; prevent persons from seeking further treatment; or requiring the person to look for a new provider.
There was no one moment of inspiration--QSpaces came out of the culmination of our own experiences. At some point, Cat + I realized that 1. we could do something about it, and 2. that we were actually the perfect team for this project.
What it does
QSpaces allows users to search, rate, and review safe and LGBTQ+-competent healthcare providers in their area.
How we built it
First, we sketched out wireframes and got together our mission. Then we pitched our idea at JAZ Tank. We didn't win that day, but JAZ approached us a couple weeks later with a $10,000 no-strings-attached award. Nic attends Jefferson and understood that this was a vote of confidence from her home institution.
We used this money to partner with Webjunto, a web dev company that aligns with us on a lot of our core values: diversity, inclusion, and beautiful design. We had only completed the Discovery and Design process when we heard about the wonderful opportunity to present at the Hack 4 Equality. Webjunto offered to get to work ASAP without hesitation- in fact, we're currently sitting here in their office, working way past midnight, to code and design a useable app by Sunday. I'm proud to call them a part of our team.
Challenges we ran into
The biggest challenge by far has been convincing straight investors (such as local hospital institutions) that this app is solving a real problem. In a national survey, over half of LGB respondents reported experiencing physical or verbal abuse at the hands of a healthcare provider, or being refused treatment outright. When looking at transgender respondents, that number jumps to 70%. Nearly 30% of LGBT respondents reported delaying or avoiding primary and preventative care due to fear of discrimination.
And yet, when quoted these institutions hear the statistics and the numbers, their immediate response is, "But not here." Which we know to be untrue due to our data collection on the institutions we approach.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Participating in Jefferson's Acceleration Zone and being awarded $10,000 from them.
What we learned
It's the team that drives the company to success or failure. There are other folks trying to do similar things to QSpaces is trying to do, and yet, Catherine and I have that special ingredient that gets stuff done.
What's next for QSpaces:
First- the web application. Then- a mobile application, both focused on Philadelphia. Next- expand nationwide. From there, we have tons of ideas- from showcasing LGBTQ artists through health-related comics on our site, to creating a compilation of resources for both healthcare providers and patients. We plan to follow through with our mission- to cultivate a happy and healthy LGBTQ community!