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The Currency of Commerce (Part 1)

Trusting Healthcare Providers in Iowa(Part 1 of a 3 Part Series)

Almost two years ago I attended a 5 day executive program at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.  This forward-thinking program, “Forces of Change: New Strategies for the Evolving Health Care Marketplace,” provided a very robust discussion on many salient health care topics that continue to evolve to this day. One topic in particular immediately grabbed my attention, and frankly, was THE main reason I attended this program.

The topic?  The trust crisis in healthcare.

I know, trust can be an overused word, but there is no denying the importance it has both in our personal relationships and in our commerce. I can think of nothing more sacred than the trust we place in those who provide physical and mental services to us when we become injured, sick or frail. What happens if we don’t have appropriate trust in our doctors, hospitals and other medical-related service providers?

A lot.

According to David A. Shore, the Harvard professor who organized “Forces of Change” and is the founding Director of the Trust Initiative of Harvard School of Public Health, “trust improves medical outcomes.” In fact, trust “is the #1 predictor of loyalty to a physician’s practice. Patients who trust their doctors are more likely to follow treatment protocols and are more likely to succeed in their efforts to change behavior.”

Here’s another interesting fact that comes from his books about trust, “Patients sue doctors and hospitals not so much for making a mistake – but for not being straight with them, for covering up, for refusing to acknowledge the error and apologize for it.  It is the breach of conscience that they are furious about, and that leads them to seek redress in court.”

Defining PATIENT TRUST in healthcare can sound something like this: Having trust in the clinical skills and knowledge of the physicians, the other professionals, and the service organizations with whom the patient comes into contact. It is confidence in the integrity of all these clinicians and organizations. And it is the confidence that, whatever else they may do, they will fulfill their role as the patients’ agent.

As Shore puts it, “Trust is the currency of all commerce.”

We continue in next week’s blog about the implications of having trust in healthcare.




  1. David, I appreciate the additional information you included here regarding the “Daniel Plan”, as it were. I and several members of our congregation here in Cedar Rapids have been exploring a “wellness initiative” along the lines of Rick Warren’s church program, because in our mind a healthy congregation is a vital congregation, and a higher contributor to the overall well-being of our respective communities.

    Good piece!

  2. Trust is a very big word especially when it comes to Health Care. It is important to have belief in doctors and trust them.