PARTNERS+simons National Healthcare Trust Index Shows Five Times More Americans Trust Their Health Plan Than Congress
Boston, MA, 10.12.2015
PARTNERS+simons, a Myelin Communications-owned firm specializing in brand communications and integrated marketing services, today released the findings of its 2015 National Healthcare Trust Index. The Trust Index found that while trust in many institutions is at an all-time low, it is still a critical factor to those consumers making hospital and health plan decisions.
By analyzing consumer trust levels and drivers for health plan and hospital selection, the Trust Index shows what key trust indicators reveal about consumer preferences. With congressional job approval ratings at their lowest point since Gallup began tracking them in 1974, it’s no surprise that American consumers are facing a crisis of trust in government and beyond. Only 10 percent of the Trust Index respondents trust Congress, just 15 percent say they trust large banks, and less than half of respondents say they trust their health insurance provider – 49 percent. Interestingly, more people trust the much-maligned Dr. Oz than many of the current presidential candidates.
However, this trust deficit is both a threat and an opportunity to hospitals and health insurance companies. Organizations that can build upon healthy trust levels, and increase trust where there is a deficit, will be more competitive in the market. For example, nearly nine in 10 consumers who trust a healthcare brand will also recommend it, compared to just six percent of those who do not trust the brand.
Despite dipping trust levels, trust is a key business driver as consumers are more likely to do business with companies they trust. The Trust Index revealed that trust was the most important factor for 74 percent of respondents choosing a hospital, far outstripping the 54 percent who said that they would chose a hospital based on rankings and location. Of the 73 percent of respondents who said they trust their hospital, 84 percent said they would recommend the hospital to a friend or colleague. Seventy four percent of respondents said they were more likely to purchase health insurance from a company they trusted.
Researchers analyzed three main categories when measuring trust drivers for health plan and hospital selection: ability, integrity and benevolence*. Consumers perceive ability to be a provider’s technical skill and its ability to provide the required services. A provider with a high integrity rating is seen as honest and forthcoming with accurate information. A high measure of benevolence indicates how much a provider is seen to have the patient’s best interests in mind.
Interestingly, consumer trust is built on different expectations, depending on the industry. In the case of hospitals and health insurance plans, ability, integrity and benevolence had varying rates of importance for consumers. While the ability of a hospital is very important to consumers (41%), it was not as important for insurance consumers (30%). In the end, while integrity matters in both industries, 34% of respondents said it was a trust driver for hospitals, and only 20% said that integrity was a trust driver for health insurance companies.
“We have seen that trust is the most important factor to consumers choosing hospitals and health plan companies, but it was interesting to peel back the data and see how, based on different expectations, trust drivers differed,” said Rich Levy, CEO of PARTNERS+simons and Myelin Communications. “This data shows that there is no one size fits all solution for communicating trust. Understanding where a specific healthcare organization ranks on these trust components, ability, integrity and benevolence – and then crafting positioning and strategies that are responsive to any surplus or deficit is the only prescription.”
“It’s a tall order for anyone to earn trust these days, but trusted brands still matter, particularly in the healthcare industry. Measuring it matters more than ever, as trust can erode very quickly,” said Steve Koczela, President of The MassINC Polling Group who designed the survey.
The PARTNERS+simons National Healthcare Trust Index, designed and conducted by MassINC Polling Group, gathered and tracked consumer data pertaining to provider and payer trust drivers. The findings are based on survey results of more than 1,200 consumers across the U.S.
* Main categories for measuring trust drivers according to the Swift Trust Theory