Public trust in healthcare institutions is ranked as one of the nation’s lowest sectors, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. We explore how health systems and hospitals can work to build trust in their organization.

Individuals who trust a company—whether it’s a department store, hotel, bank or any other organization—are significantly more engaged, loyal and likely to advocate for that group. The trust/loyalty correlation certainly applies to the healthcare industry. Whether or not a community trusts its hospital or health system impacts its ability to influence individuals to maintain and improve their health, and it affects employers looking to attract and retain talent in tight employment markets.

Unfortunately, public trust in healthcare institutions is now ranked as one of the nation’s lowest sectors, below energy and telecommunications, according to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer survey. The need to combat those perceptions and rebuild the public’s trust in healthcare was one of the featured sessions by Lynn Hanessian, chief strategist at Edelman, and Cydney Roach, EVP, U.S. Employee Experience Lead at Edelman, at the Liberation 2019 conference last October.

Trust in hospitals and clinics dropped 7% from 2018 to 2019, while trust in insurance grew 8%, according to Edelman’s online survey of more than 33,000 respondents in 27 markets. The survey also took into account healthcare employees’ perception of their employers. Already the source of many of the nation’s jobs—1 in 7 employees works in healthcare—the industry is projected to account for a third of new employment growth, with the fastest growth expected in personal health and home health aides.

From a career perspective, healthcare employees have strong expectations for personal empowerment (73%) and a job with a meaningful societal impact (64%). These desires are rapidly overtaking more traditional expectations of personal opportunity for job training and career growth (78%) from their employer. However, it seems as though these expectations largely are not being met as healthcare employees are the least trusting across all sectors.

What can be done to rebuild the lost trust in healthcare institutions? Hanessian and Roach shared the view that individuals are looking to CEOs to lead change rather than for the government to impose it through regulations.

Of those Edelman surveyed, 43% of respondents believe that technology can lead to better patient outcomes. But in order to improve health outcomes, healthcare organizations need holistic data about an individual. Respondents’ willingness to share personal data is heavily dependent on the security and privacy of data. CEOs need to invest in security and privacy and weave that into how they brand their hospital.

To increase employee trust, promote the societal impact of the organization’s contributions, and communicate their vision for the future, hospitals must communicate, measure and demonstrate a commitment to the organization’s values.

Trust is critical to your personal and business success.

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