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2017 Trends: Revealing Healthcare’s Trust Gap

According to Robert F. Hurley, Harvard Business Review’s expert on trust, “A distrustful environment leads to expensive and sometimes terminal problems.”

Welcome to healthcare. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that trust is at an all-time low and the Trust Gap is wider than ever, according to our latest research.

We recently revealed results from our 10th Annual ReviveHealth Trust IndexTM, which measures the Trust Gap (and reasons behind it) between health plans, health systems, and physicians. And let’s cut to the chase: it’s dire. Yet building trust is also potentially the greatest opportunity for healthcare organizations in 2017 — and why trust makes our list of 2017 healthcare marketing communication trends.

While we’ve always measured the evolution of trust between these audiences, in recent years,we’ve also begun analyzing the shift from volume to value. This year’s results confirmed past trends: the continued decline in trust, and the slow pace in the journey towards value. But let us offer a theory: could those two be connected? Might trust be the potential accelerator in this great value migration?

We believe that there’s a direct relationship between trust, value-based care, and data – and therefore a key opportunity for health technology and services companies to bridge the gap.

What the Data Says

In this year’s research, we asked our health plan and health system respondents what percentage of their revenue from 2016 was based on volume versus value.

What’s shocking is not the numbers per se, but rather the discrepancy between health plan and health system respondents — especially since our respondents are generally working with one another in managed care contracts. Clearly, there’s a language disconnect, and these groups have fundamentally different interpretations of value-based care contracting – a poll during our Becker’s Healthcare webinar further confirmed this. When we asked attendees what they thought explained this difference, 66 percent said the definition of “value-based payments” varies. (Note to marketers selling into health plans and health systems: your messaging must be different based on each audience.)

But that disconnect segued to agreement when we prodded both audiences on what’s hindering them in this shift to value-based care.

  • For health plans, the top two cited barriers were lack of technologies (61 percent) and lack of data (58 percent)
  • For health systems, lack of technologies and reluctance to assume risk tied in the No. 1 spot (62 percent)

While this is bad news for CMS and the old guard of technology partners, it’s good news for emerging and proven health IT companies. Health systems and health plans are more desperate for trusted partners than ever, specifically trusted partners who can bridge the technology and data gap.

What Health Tech and Services Companies Can Do to Address The Trust Gap

Based on this research, we’re making five clear recommendations to our health systems and health plan clients on how to overcome the Trust Gap.

  1. Know where you stand in the Trust Index spectrum
  2. Think differently about your relationship with partnering health plans or health systems
  3. Start small in the value-based care world, then scale up quickly
  4. Find a trusted partner to deliver relevant, trustworthy data
  5. Better communication and information sharing is key to building trust

That’s right: we began with trust, evaluated value, and ended up with data. Because in today’s world, you can’t separate these three musketeers — and more importantly, they all beget one another.

In 2017, if you make only one commitment to the market, make it one of trust. Not only will it hopefully address healthcare’s “expensive and sometimes terminal problems,” it will drive sales and revenue. Because if people trust you, they’ll want to do business with you.

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