“They” say that if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything—and to me that rings true. My health is my life. Or, I should say my health makes the quality of my life possible. And, when it comes to the health issues that really count, like preventing heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia—which all run in my family—I trust one person’s authority: my doctor.

Working in the health care marketing industry I read an astounding number of articles and studies about every chronic disease prevention approach out there today, so I consider myself ultra-informed. I also talk to my friends and family about health and prevention. But, it’s my discussions with my doctor about what I’ve read, combined with what she knows, that ultimately helps me decide how to approach my health.

And I’m not alone when it comes to trust. In our latest research Why Patients Switch 2017, we interviewed 1,233 health care consumers in six different markets around the country about their relationship with their health care provider. 

63 percent of our survey participants said that their primary care physician was their most used, trusted and important source of health information.

As we interviewed our participants, we wanted to know how a doctor could gain their trust. So we asked, “What should a doctor say or how should they act to be trustworthy?” People told us:

  • clearly answer my questions
  • listen to my needs and input when considering health care options
  • confidently explain options, procedures and diagnoses
  • be able to explain my medical condition and be empathic at the same time
  • explain things in a way that is clear and easy to understand
  • understand my medical history better
  • be better at follow-up communication after tests or procedures
  • use a tone that is personable, caring and understanding

A deeper look

As we dug deeper into why those who trusted their physician would consider switching, we found that there was a lot of frustration with our health care system—the cost, the lack of transparency, the hassles of pre-authorization, the lack of follow-up, the lack of time, the waiting, the inconveniences, miscommunications, misunderstandings, misdiagnoses.

Much of that frustration was directed at the primary care physician who today is being asked to do it all. To maintain trust, compassion and efficiency while seeing a new patient every seven to eight minutes. To address the issue at hand, conduct a thorough exam, review labs, consider therapeutic approaches, reconcile all current medications looking for interactions and spend time on health counseling and preventive care.

As marketers, we may not be able to fix health care, but we can:

  • lift up our physicians
  • create better ways to facilitate communication between patients and physicians
  • educate populations about how to be better, more prepared patients

63 percent of those we surveyed said their primary care physician was their most used, trusted and important source of health information. Like me, they know their doctor has their best interest at heart. That trust has always been the cornerstone of their relationship with their doctor—and it is something that we as marketers need to facilitate and protect.

How are you managing the relationship your physicians have with their patients? Share your thoughts in the comments below and let’s discuss.