Trust in Healthcare System Is Key During Pandemic

March 31, 2021 Alexander Health


Regrowing trust in the industry.

A McCann Health survey shows that a consumer trust toward healthcare providers, which has been going down, increased during the pandemic. In 2016, McCann found that nearly a third of consumers (32%) felt they could be doctors with little-to-no training. 25% said they trusted social media more than doctors.

This year, consumers say healthcare providers are their top resource (41%), and they value traditional medicine more than technology. McCann notes that the pandemic has boosted the four pillars of “doctorness” in healthcare. “Authority, trust, gratitude, and relationships” have all gone up since 2016. (MM+M)

"We realized this incredible moment of clarity where you need health experts to solve a health crisis. We need scientists. And we need people who are trained and people who have the expertise to tackle this issue."

Hilary Gentile, Global Strategy Officer, McCann Health

But there is still a long and winding road ahead to getting everyone on board. 

Sadly, this new trust in healthcare providers isn’t universal. A story in the Journal of Hospital Medicine says that “public health is invisible when it is most effective.”

It’s not always easy to provide a convincing case for prevention and nonmedical approaches to health and well-being. By managing the problem, we convince people that there is nothing to worry about. Then, they see no reason to follow health recommendations and guidelines.

Pitting government and the economy against public health leaders leads to an erosion in public trust in many communities. Unfortunately, few public health leaders are trained in advocacy communication.

In the Journal of Hospital Medicine article, Marianne Udow-Phillips, MHSA, and Paula Lance, PhD, say that it is “exceedingly difficult for governments to design effective pandemic interventions that protect the public’s health without negatively affecting the economy, healthcare system, schools, and the financial and psychosocial welfare of citizens.”

"To compound this challenge, while local, state, and federal governments have the authority to act strongly and swiftly in a public crisis, Americans’ passionate political and philosophical attachments to freedom and self-determination and their skepticism about government interference cannot be dismissed."

Journal of Hospital Medicine

Amy Acton, MD, MPH, director of public health for Ohio, takes an “inspire, rather than order” approach to communications. She tries to appeal to widely-shared core values and encourages isolation to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Other tactics for gaining public trust include transparency in sharing known and unknown risks. Admitting when errors are made and engaging the public in policy decision-making also help.

In the face of a global pandemic, public trust in the healthcare system is paramount, and communication is key.


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