After more than two years of focusing on COVID-19, health remains top of mind with consumers. Numerous surveys find that US adults are more concerned about health and hygiene than prior to 2020. Of the top five consumer brands they trust most, according to Morning Consult, four are healthcare related—BAND-AID, Lysol, Clorox and CVS Pharmacy.
Likewise, similar polls show that 64 percent of all adults in this country trust healthcare companies, second only to the trust they place in food and beverage companies. At the bottom of that same poll sit CEOs, with social media and media companies hovering just slightly above them.
This backs findings from the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, which reveals that globally, consumers basically trust no one—particularly government leaders, journalists and CEOs. The same report, however, shows scientists to be the most trusted societal leaders and healthcare to be among the most trusted industry sectors.
Consumer health concerns present a platform for hospitals and healthcare systems to amplify information that lets audiences know “this is what we’re doing” to prioritize their health and care for them. That starts with strengthening bonds between providers and patients, where trust matters most.
Having Coffee With A Friend
How many times have healthcare marketers been told that, despite best efforts, patients go where doctors lead them? With consumers in the driver’s seat that belief is now less prevalent, particularly with Gen Z and Millennial audiences who harbor a high distrust of traditional methods and approaches.
The traditional model of ambulatory care has gone the way of the horse and buggy doctor making house calls. Or has it?
Digital healthcare transformation—telemedicine, wearable diagnostic devices, texting, emailing, or messaging through EHR portals—now makes patient care more direct and personal. Remote doctor visits are becoming more like having coffee with a friend, as opposed to in-person interactions with a doctor.
Providers can maintain trust with their patients by acknowledging and marketing themselves as unique, individual brands. In the Morning Consult study, 39 percent of respondents indicate when they trust a brand, they will go out of the way to do business with it. Few things cause a woman more angst than having to change hairdressers or gynecologists. Once they establish a bond, it’s hard to break.
Choosing one doctor over another often depends on four key factors:
- Patient experience
- Competitive pricing
Trust between doctors and their patients empowers providers to get back to what most want to do in the first place—keep patients healthy.
Humanizing the Brand
One of the most valuable lessons learned from the pandemic is the need to humanize brands to demonstrate knowledge and solidify consumer trust.
Patients trust providers with their health, time, and money. Credibility and trustworthiness solidify their decisions more than over-the-top promises and exaggerated claims.
Start by getting rid of pre-2020 platitudes. Instead:
- Share authentic patient stories to inform and educate;
- Feature doctors, nurses, and other staff to share brand stories;
- Inform with science and research without hesitation or sugar coating;
- Listen; ask patients about their visits with quick and easy post surveys; monitor reviews and social media comments.
Carefully Consider What You Say, Do and Share
Consumers tend to lose trust in a brand due to negative experiences and sub-par quality. Picking sides on a social issue that contrasts with the consumer’s views is also a trust breaker.
Even though a doctor’s or nurse’s personal social media pages should be safe forums for sharing personal beliefs, it is a public forum. The public doesn’t distinguish between what Joe says, does or shares while on vacation from what Dr. Joe says, does or shares on the practice platforms during office hours.
For example, providers are now caught in a legal and political quagmire following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. With emotions running high on both sides of the issue, not only can providers lose patients with public or private statements, but their brand can negatively be affected.
Currently, earnestly addressing, prioritizing, and managing a patient’s health builds trust. And that’s important.