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Trust – Now is a Good Time (Part 3)

David P. Lind BenchmarkAlbert Einstein spoke of trust in the following way: “Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust.”

Trust in our healthcare system has been waning for a number of years…and it does not seem to show signs of improvement anytime soon.

A number of past studies provide sobering facts on the perception of our healthcare system:

  • In 1966, 73 percent of Americans expressed a “great deal of confidence” in our medical institutions. However, by 2004 that figure had dropped to 32 percent. (Data from Harris)
  • 79 percent of Americans agreed with the statement, “There is something seriously wrong with our healthcare system.” (National Coalition on Health Care 1997)
  • 87 percent of Americans agreed that “the quality of medical care for the average person needs to be improved.” (National Coalition on Health Care 1997)

Trust can be difficult to measure…but easier to understand.  Medical organizations that are sincere about pursuing and maintaining an enduring culture of trust should establish initiatives to emotionally connect with their patients to perpetuate that trust.

With the advent of “consumerism” in healthcare, the patient is no longer a passive bystander, but rather, an active partner when interacting with their provider(s). The healthcare organization that can successfully connect with the emotional well-being of the patient will reap abundant rewards within our new, evolving healthcare environment.

By having the “patient-centric” mantra carefully integrated within the DNA of the organization, a deeper patient trust can take root and eventually grow within (and beyond) the community in which the organization practices. As Alice K. Jacobs, MD, President of the American Heart Association once said, “Trust has been shown to be essential to patients, in their willingness to seek care, their willingness to reveal sensitive information, their willingness to submit to treatment and their willingness to follow recommendations.” Establishing a high level of trust is good not only for the patient, but also for their employer, the community being served, and of course, to the healthcare provider.

However healthcare reform turns out, this is a wonderful opportunity for healthcare providers to develop that new sense of trust that patients so desperately hope to have now and in the future. Now is a great time to build that currency of commerce we know as TRUST!


Supreme Decision to Remember

Supreme Court Rules on Healthcare ReformToday (June 28, 2012) the U.S. Supreme Court provided the black smoke signal to this country that a decision was made on health reform… the Justices ruled 5 to 4 to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). With this ruling, the individual mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance was deemed constitutional.

With the mandate surviving, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the law were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for expanding Medicaid or risk losing federal funding. Under this particular issue, the Court ruled that the federal government could not take away existing funding on states’ Medicaid program if states decline to accept the Medicaid expansion.

For Iowa employers?

There will be no impact on the existing implementation of PPACA for employers and plan sponsors. Employers will need to continue the process of activating the many provisions of PPACA, which includes the employer mandate (for employers with at least 50 equivalent full-time employees). There are many other provisions that remain unchanged, some already in place, while others have yet to be implemented.

The legal argument has now been decided, now the political battle will heat up this summer and become a monumental topic during our November elections. We have some clarity on this topic today, but opaqueness remains – at least during the last half of 2012.

The opinion upholding the individual mandate can be found here.

Trust – A Distinguished Healthcare Trait (Part 2)

Healthcare in Iowa In my previous blog, I mentioned the importance of having Trust with healthcare providers. The implication of trust is far reaching – for employers, employees and their dependents, and also to the health care providers themselves.

In healthcare, like most other industries, quality of care should be no more than a ticket to entry to the marketplace.  In other words, having competence is the minimum threshold for ALL healthcare providers when serving patients. With this core competence, each provider can add to their “brand” (or reputation) by offering intangibles that will make a difference to their patients in a meaningful way.

As mentioned by Dr. Shore of Harvard, “A good organization produces excellent programs, products, and services. A great one – with a power brand – is TRUSTED to consistently deliver excellent programs, products and services that are PERCEIVED by consumers (patients) to be both RELEVANT and DISTINCTIVE.”

Consumers are willing to pay more for, travel farther for, wait longer for…a power brand.

Mayo Clinic is a prime example of having a power brand in healthcare. Mayo provides excellent service that is distinctive from other organizations. They transcend mere products and services that others cannot duplicate.

Few organizations in healthcare fully understand how to create an on-going power brand. They may advertise their quality – perhaps a national publication has included them in one of their quality rankings. But merely telling the public they have quality is very different from consistently demonstrating this quality over the long term by developing an emotional connection with the customer (patient). The power brand represents the DNA of the organization.

The healthcare industry must be careful to not be perceived as a commodity…though it is very easy to get caught up playing this game (look at the retail industry). When perceived as a commodity, providers are not easily distinguishable from one another by patients. Patients will make their choices on the basis of convenience or recommendation from a friend. Developing a power brand, however, will take providers out of playing the commodity game. Instead, they will be more likely to predict the future by creating it!

There is good news, however. Come back here next week to find out!