Do Your Patients Trust Car Salesmen More Than Doctors?

Do your patients trust the automotive industry over health care? According to Edelman’s 2010 “Trust Barometer,” (a survey of an informed public, ages 25-64 in 20 countries), they do. The automotive industry scored 63% and the health care industry only scored 60%. Healthcare also trailed behind technology (79%), biotech (63%), energy (61%), retail (63%) and food (61%). Healthcare did prevail over the pharmaceutical industry (56%), manufacturers (56%), entertainment (56%), banks (48%), and media (44%) and insurance (42%) companies.

Maybe more informative than the industries that people trust is why they trust them. The first item on the list cited by 83% of the respondents, “transparent and honest practices.” What does transparency mean in healthcare and how can a hospital increase transparency?

In their book, Tactical Transparency: How Leaders Can Leverage Social Media to Maximize Value and Build Their Brand, Shel Holtz and John Havens first discuss what transparency is not: “It is not full disclosure.” They use HIPAA as their example: “A company that released its’ employees health records would violate HIPAA.” They characterize transparent as authentic with the marketplace and encourage companies to adopt ethical practices…and then use the new tools available in social media to communicate often. Holtz and Havens are advocates of blogs: “Blogs are powerful tools; that’s why so many companies are turning to them to help build a culture of transparency.”

Blogs are one of the tools that hospitals can use to up their own “trust barometer” among their patients and their communities. A blog program takes commitment, consistency and content; but there are few other tools that are so well equipped to lend a human voice to your hospital and enhance transparency.

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