A huge part of maintaining a smooth health ecosystem is trust. Particularly, trust between healthcare providers and their patients. A survey from NBC News found only 44% of Americans trust the CDC’s communications regarding COVID-19. Patients with high levels of trust in the health ecosystem are usually more proactive and preventive in their health behaviors, while those with lower levels of trust are less likely to be as complacent, with a tendency to doubt health experts or tune out of health news.

Lately, this low level of trust among patients is proving to be an alarming concern. Combined with fears of medical misinformation, this directly impacts the health of individuals and those around them. This article will cover some things we can do to improve trust toward healthcare providers.

Asking relevant questions

Establishing trust between a healthcare provider and a patient revolves around the act of asking questions. Most of the discussion is usually centered on questions that doctors ask patients for medical record purposes, as highlighted in this write-up about a medical AI tool developed by researchers at MIT. The trained machine-learning model was able to generate clinical questions, and it was “found that the model asked high-quality and authentic questions, as compared to real questions from medical experts, more than 60% of the time”.

However, it’s also just as important for patients to start asking relevant questions so they can better understand new information like diagnoses, treatments, or possible risks. Remember that you have a right to know the things that affect your health and care. Asking relevant questions is a great way to be involved in your own healthcare, and a good point of reference to help you make decisions.

Considering patient confidentiality

Understandably, as patients, there is some fear of getting judged or having our medical conditions and diagnoses exposed. This fear may hinder us from reaching out to get the proper healthcare that we need. However, this may well be an unfounded fear, as certain laws are actually put in place to prevent this from happening. Maryville University’s insights on patient confidentiality note that, as a rule, healthcare providers who deal with patient health information cannot legally share patient information without their consent.

The concept of patient confidentiality comes hand in hand with building trust between patients and healthcare providers. When in doubt, you can ask your healthcare provider about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and how it applies to you. If we are able to trust our healthcare providers with confidential information, they will in turn be able to make better-informed decisions and personalized treatment plans that fit our needs.

Making a routine

Some people visit doctors and physicians only when they feel they need to or in case of an emergency. But working out a routine of health-related check-ups can actually benefit your health in the long run, while also providing your healthcare providers with up-to-date patient records to make better diagnoses and treatments for you. Not to mention, building health visits into a routine creates a better relationship between you and your healthcare providers, establishing a deeper sense of trust.

In our previous blog post, we explain how some health insurance and Medicare plans cover routine health exams, such as eye exams for senior citizens. We also discuss the importance of routine check-ups and exams in detecting early signs of more serious conditions like glaucoma and cancer. Getting in touch with your healthcare insurance provider can be a good place to start figuring out a medical check-up routine for you.

At the end of the day, prioritizing your health, along with that of your loved ones, requires a high level of trust between you and your healthcare providers. Remember that you shouldn’t treat your healthcare like you are a mere consumer of a business. Treatments and medicine, after all, are not commodities that you spend on because you want to, but because you need to.

Article written by Ressie Joseph