Over a year has passed since we published The National COVID Insights Report. The world has changed quite a bit since then and some of our insights are now dated. There are no pending government shutdowns, many emergency departments are back up to capacity, and most health systems are conducting discretionary surgeries.
But recent research shows that certain findings are even more true today than they were a year ago. In particular, Insight number three, “Become a trusted source” is even more critical today.
Several recent research studies have shown the public has low trust in government health organizations. During the pandemic, trust is critical to helping people navigate the information and recommendations needed to protect themselves, their families, and friends. Yet a recent poll by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health shows that only about half of US adults have a great deal of trust in the CDC. State and local health departments and the FDA have much lower levels of trust when it comes to receiving health recommendations. This poses a threat to public health when the very sources of recommendations about COVID or other health issues are not trusted.
The opportunity lies in the fact that most Americans have a high level of trust in their doctors and nurses. According to the poll from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, at least 7 in 10 Americans trust doctors, nurses, and pharmacists to do what’s right for them and their families either most or all of the time. Doctors, nurses, and direct care providers have the opportunity to fill the void left by government agencies when it comes to recommendations regarding preventing the spread of COVID, mask-wearing, vaccinations, booster shots, or other topics pertaining to public health.
Hospitals can leverage the trust in their providers to become the primary source for health information. Whether through direct patient interaction, communication through MyChart, or letters, newsletters, emails, and social media, hospitals have the opportunity to fill the void left by the media and government agencies. This may be the best time to step out and communicate with patients to elevate your own brand as the trusted source of health information. You will not only be building your brand but you will be filling a very real community need.