What is causing these large drops in trust in the U.S. in healthcare?
One hypothesis is that the ongoing blame game across the industry over the high cost of healthcare had an overall negative impact on all that touched health. The trust decline was further compounded by uncertainties around the fate of the Affordable Care Act and the accompanying political battles. Changes in the out-of-pocket expenses for families and frustration with an overly complicated system also add drags in trust.
To regain trust in the U.S., healthcare companies must leave the blame game behind and focus on solutions. This means addressing both unmet patient needs and the costs of care. The industry must double down on messaging around benefits and innovation or run the risk of being overpowered by the pricing outrage cycle. This includes focusing messages around R&D, innovation and hard science – versus profits, sales, and marketing.
Trust is also built on treating the whole person. Patients are looking to health companies to build and create solutions beyond the products they sell. Edelman data also show the general population has largely positive sentiment toward the future of health technology. While developing new treatments is expected of the health industry, providing holistic wellness and disease management solutions will further build trust.
Healthcare communicators can also look to those trusted within the industry, like hospitals and clinics, which Edelman hypothesizes benefit from the human faces associated with the care delivered, to help determine how they may establish a more personal connection with patients.
Healthcare companies have ample room to share their positive contributions to society their own content and platforms.
This year we have global data that show content provided by health companies is viewed as credible, while only 53 percent trust health news reported by the media. This is a clear opportunity for health companies to share interactive, creative content. With the changing media landscape and general distrust in this institution, health companies must leverage their own channels to share their stories.
Because it helps to lead with a humanized approach, Edelman also recommends activating a chorus of spokespersons, including experts and employees to tell the story. With the polarization of trust seen across markets, it is also essential to tailor programming locally.