Co-Founder & CEO of PointClickCarea leading healthcare technology platform that enables meaningful collaboration across the healthcare continuum.
There is a fundamental trust problem in healthcare, and I believe it is now time for those in the industry to dismantle it.
This problem does not only exist between healthcare providers and organizations, but also between healthcare providers and patients. We cannot solve the former without also solving the latter. Collaboration and information sharing are key to improving health in our communities, and it starts with building a foundation of trust among healthcare stakeholders.
A lack of trust, collaboration and data sharing between healthcare providers inevitably worsens outcomes, especially for patients moving between healthcare facilities.
An ecosystem of mistrust
recent Research shows the depth of the problem: In addition to an overall decline in doctors’ trust in healthcare leaders, there also seems to be a large gap between how doctors and the public perceive trust in the U.S. healthcare system. The study found that while doctors understand and value the importance of fostering trust in patients, patients simply do not believe they are taking the necessary steps to build this trust.
Furthermore, in a survey of 1,000 U.S. healthcare consumers, my company found that: the majority of consumers (85%) believe physicians should focus more on delivering quality care than on the number of patients they can see. And when it comes to health plans and providers, there is an inherent lack of trust and misalignment. Unfortunately, we are at a point where healthcare providers are not investing in sharing patient data due to mistrust of how payers will use it, including as a way to reduce reimbursements rather than add value to patient care.
This has created a toxic environment where models are disguised as value-based care. For value-based care models to succeed, payers and providers must work together to understand each other’s needs, identify gaps in care, promote quality care, and reduce costs.
The truth is that the continuum of care is one of the most complicated systems for patients and caregivers to navigate. While organizations have made progress toward efficiency, the full value of data sharing has not yet been realized. All stakeholders in the care continuum have a role to play in restoring the eroded trust.
Digitize to cultivate trust
A major challenge for acute and post-acute healthcare facilities is a lack of timely information to proactively manage patient care. Doctors, nurses and health care teams work tirelessly to coordinate transitions and care decisions, but they often do so with outdated or incomplete information — or worse, no information at all.
The most important step we can take to foster trust and transparency across the spectrum is to break down barriers between healthcare providers. To achieve this, organizations must digitize systems and operations to collaborate more freely, communicate and give all stakeholders insight into their patient data. In addition to – and as a result of – digitization, organizations need to measure their own progress and be held accountable by other stakeholders about their unique role in improving trust in the healthcare system. This self-reflection is essential to ensure transparency and trust in the way information is shared digitally.
And while there are many hurdles to achieving this, the end result is that caregivers in all health settings get all the necessary background, context and details about their patients at the point of care or, better yet, before they arrive for care. This gives clinicians insights to improve outcomes and quality of life for patients, reinforcing a sense of confidence along the continuum.
Unfortunately, I predict that only a small percentage of healthcare organizations will step on board and drive real change. It can take action by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to require those organizations that are falling behind to change the way they work.
But you shouldn’t let it get that far; suppliers must recognize the benefits and take ownership of the necessary operational services. They now have the opportunity to take action on the sharing of patient data without regulatory burden. Not only is it the right thing to do, but being an early adopter can improve an organization’s reputation and network value.
Connection to health equality
Inequalities in access to quality assurance also play a large role in the overall trust dynamics.
Consumer and community trust in healthcare providers is critical to achieving optimal health and improving patient experience and outcomes. The reality is that not all communities have the same trust in their health care providers. We continue to observe large differences in confidence based on race and ethnicity, and social determinants of health continue to have a substantial impact on quality of care, priority of care and health outcomes. These are concerns that you as a healthcare provider must deal with immediately.
We also see a gap between the elderly population and the rest of the care continuum. In particular, the technology gap between hospitals and long-term and post-acute care (LTPAC) facilities makes transitions of care difficult and potentially more dangerous for residents. I believe that by improving collaboration and trust between organizations, healthcare providers can improve the quality of care and be empowered to address these inequalities more effectively.
Technology as a way forward
The right information at the right time can help bridge the gap and restore trust between healthcare stakeholders. Organizations already have access to the technology needed to regain this trust; they just don’t use it in this capacity.
As we look ahead, we all hold the key to restoring confidence and then improving overall patient safety and outcomes. As part of this, healthcare providers can digitize operations and share valuable patient data more effectively to increase visibility and improve decision-making. Over time, these insights will help healthcare providers deliver more positive patient experiences, improve health outcomes, and restore trust in all facets of healthcare.