Trust in Healthcare


Blog post by Joe Babaian

Now in 2023, more than ever, we think about trust in healthcare – the system and the medical profession are rooted in experience, connections, and perception. Different segments of society have varying levels of trust based on socio-economic status, race, and level of interaction with the healthcare system, to name a few. Social determinants of health #SDoH and demographics are a large part of this equation.

Who do we trust and why? Do we have the tools to differentiate between helpful marketing that aims to inform versus the more darkly-shaded ask of pharmaceutical marketing that often does not align with best practices?

Trust in healthcare is declining. Some sobering facts from the NEJM and the NY Times:

In 1966, more than three-fourths of Americans had great confidence in medical leaders; today, only 34 percent do. Compared with people in other developed countries, Americans are considerably less likely to trust doctors, and only a quarter express confidence in the health system.

Even before COVID, less than one-third of Americans said they trusted public health officials to share complete and accurate information. Only 14 percent trust the federal government to do what’s right most of the time. Now we fear trust in the “system” may be irretrievably broken. 

Imagine – public health emergencies where less than one-third of the people trust the news they receive, plus even fewer trust the government to do the right thing. This is a recipe for disaster.

Some further impacts found from decreased trust in healthcare:

  • Patients less likely to follow treatment plans
  • Vaccine resistance – notable during a time of Pandemic
  • Patients are more likely to decline critical vaccinations for themselves or their children
  • People are less likely to follow medical advice for lifestyle & family planning issues
  • Hurting innovation & research – clinical trial enrollment based on patient trust in their doctor – study
  • Acceptance and use of #DigitalHealth – wearables, EHR, and more based on trust that privacy will be maintained (or not)
  • Avoiding #telehealth / #telemedicine adoption

What can we do?

  • Partnering with patients versus “treating” patients
  • Improving communication and transparency – @myopennotes, for example
  • Empathy in all interactions
  • Fostering and creating a collaboration mindset – tear down walls

Let’s talk about trust in healthcare as we join the extended #hcldr community for another engaging dialog!

Please join me on Tuesday, January 17th at 8:30pm ET for the weekly #hcldr tweet chat where we will be discussing trust:

  • T1 Where are the most significant issues of lack of trust in healthcare?
  • T2 What effects have you seen from lack of trust in healthcare? Examples?
  • T3 What can be done – and by whom – to reverse the trend of reduced trust in healthcare?
  • T4 Where would you like the focus to be when working to mitigate these roadblocks in healthcare?

Image Credit

Vials – Fair Use 

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