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Quality Care Drives Positive Patient Perceptions of Clinicians

New data shows that patients trust their clinicians and hospitals more than pharmaceutical and health insurance companies, largely due to better perceived reputations.

Patients are reporting positive perceptions of clinicians and hospitals, with patients believing their providers to have good intentions when it comes to their healthcare, according to a recent survey conducted by Harris Poll.

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With over 1,000 adult patients polled, respondents expressed skepticism about all parts of the healthcare industry. However, concerns about clinicians and hospitals paled in comparison to questions about pharmaceutical and health insurance companies.

Only nine percent of respondents think pharmaceutical companies value patients over profits, and only 16 percent said the same about health insurance companies. Patients tend to associate these industry stakeholders with poor reputations, with 24 percent and 20 percent of respondents linking health insurance and pharmaceutical companies with negative reputations, respectively.

Meanwhile, 36 percent of patients believe their clinicians put their health over profits, and 23 percent reported the same about hospitals. These entities also have better perceived reputations than pharma and insurance companies, with 43 percent and 37 percent of patients viewing clinicians and hospitals with positive reputations, respectively.

According to Wendy Salomon, Vice President of Reputation Management and Public Affairs and Nielsen, these findings are notable because patient perceptions and reputation are driving factors for different healthcare industry sectors. Positive reputation is half the battle in claiming market share and making a difference in healthcare, she said.

“Reputation matters to patients, care providers, investors, employees, and potential hires. Positive reputations can pave the way in times of crisis, in times of transition – and when it’s critical to have a seat at the policy-setting table.”

Patients tend to have more positive perceptions of industry professionals they interact with on a day-to-day and personal basis. For example, 49 percent of respondents said retail pharmacists offer quality products and 48 percent said clinicians deliver quality healthcare.

Fewer respondents said the same of executives from healthcare companies. Thirty-one percent of respondents said pharma companies offer quality products, while 26 percent said the same of health insurance companies. Additionally, about half of respondents said clinicians and hospitals make a difference in the community, while only 26 percent said the same of pharmaceutical and health insurance companies.

Because of their more positive viewpoints, patients expressed more confidence in clinicians to solve industry crises. Fifty-five percent of respondents cited clinicians as best equipped to solve healthcare issues, and 47 percent said patients will also play a notable role. Thirty-eight percent identified government intervention as helpful.

In contrast, fewer patients put their faith in health insurance (34 percent), pharma and biotech (32 percent), and technology companies (25 percent).

Characteristics such as ethics and quality care and product delivery are critical to problem-solving, according to 62 percent of survey respondents. And as made evident by other findings from this survey, patients regularly associate these qualities with clinicians and hospitals instead of pharmaceutical or health insurance companies.

According to Salomon, disparities in patient perceptions of healthcare entities are largely due to bad press. Negative patient perceptions do not necessarily mean pharmaceutical and health insurance companies do bad or unethical work, but instead that they need to better market the positive effects they may have on the healthcare industry.

“The EpiPen controversy, Affordable Care Act challenges, the fall of Theranos, and the basic hassles inherent in navigating one’s health care needs – all of these contribute to consumers’ perceptions of the reputation of the health care system overall, but we need to remember that health care players are not viewed equally,” Salomon said.

“While at times the pharmaceutical industry seems an easy target for criticism, it is stunning to see the little credit it receives for making a positive difference. There are real opportunities for companies across the health care landscape to proactively share their stories and engage in reducing reputational risk.”

Different industry players, notably pharmaceutical and health insurance companies, will need to work on those reputations, especially as varying business models begin to broaden their services. As financially strapped consumers look for quality healthcare at the best price, industry stakeholders must ensure they maintain a positive reputation in order to maintain consumer retention.

“Whether it’s meeting consumers’ needs for extended hours and convenient locations through retail pharmacy clinics, or technology companies working with patients to help manage chronic disease, these evolving ways of delivering care have the potential for disruption,” Salomon concluded. “Millennials’ receptivity to non-traditional alternatives can be seen as one proof point that there will be more disruption ahead.”

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