There are a myriad of healthcare issues plaguing patients these days–from snowballing costs, to backroom deals, to misdiagnoses, to a general lack of quality time with providers–and that’s leading people to increasingly distrust the industry.
According to The New England Journal of Medicine, “public trust in the leaders of the U.S. medical profession has declined sharply over the past half century.” More specifically, surveys show that 73 percent of Americans had confidence in medical profession leaders back in 1966–a far cry from only 34 percent in 2012.
Despite the same survey showing that Americans believe in their physicians’ integrity and ethics, the overall lack of trust seems to be stemming from the more systemic changes and issues with healthcare as a whole.
Public confidence in the U.S. healthcare system as a whole is only at 23 percent, according to the NEJM, which speculates: “The decline in trust is probably attributable to broad cultural changes in the United States, as well as rising concerns about medical leaders’ responses to major national problems affecting… healthcare.”
Globally, the U.S. stands alone on this. Out of the 29 countries surveyed, Americans’ confidence is just about the lowest.
There are plenty of reasons for this mistrust, as we’ve already identified in this blog series. The New York Times shared a collection of articles that speak to a larger, understandable position that the healthcare industry puts profits ahead of patients.
Trust is a big deal when it comes to treatment.
According to the NEJM, research suggests that for doctors’ advice to carry any weight, trust is essential.
An article by Health Affairs spells it out:
“In addition to its intrinsic value, there is increasing evidence that patient trust is linked to intended or reported patient adherence to treatment recommendations. In a 1999 study by David Thom and colleagues, 62 percent of patients in the highest quartile of trust reported that they always took prescribed medication and followed their doctor’s recommendation, compared with just 14 percent of patients in the lowest trust quartile. Similarly, Dana Safran and colleagues found that patients with higher trust in their physician were significantly more likely to report engaging in eight recommended health behaviors, including exercise, smoking cessation, and safe sexual practices. Trust in the physician was also found to be one of the strongest predictors of patients’ decision to enroll in a study of a new treatment for cancer.”
One New York Times article shared that states with higher levels of social trust tend to have lower rates of late HIV diagnoses, “partly because people feel more comfortable seeking care and getting tested.”
Furthermore, trust makes patients more responsive to treatment, either by the aforementioned adherence to doctors’ advice, or by a placebo-type effect.
So how can trust be restored? Well, it’s going to take a lot of work at just about every level to restore that trust from a societal, macro perspective, but for you and your company, it is possible.
Trust requires placing healthcare plans in the hands of transparent, accountable individuals who can vouch for the value of the services being rendered, stay away from the convoluted games hospitals, doctors and insurance providers play, and earn their reasonable fees.
These all are things we do at Captiva Benefit Solutions as an employee benefits brokerage. We build trust as we create teams of transparency that bring about real change in your company’s healthcare spend.