Insights from industry experts

Rekindling confidence on the system.

How Health Systems can regain trust and improve the Customer Experience

Nowadays, medical science produces miracles every day. And America’s health care system is among the most advanced and sophisticated in the world. But at the same time, health care systems have lost the trust of many of the communities they serve, with 73% of US adults saying that the health care system is not meeting their needs, according to the 2023 Harris Poll. That lack of trust and confidence in health care providers and institutions is critical for health outcomes, as it influences the way consumers use health systems, decreasing the rate of use of preventive screenings and primary medical care while placing a burden on emergency services.

This is even more evident among Hispanics, which now represent close to 20% of the total population and up to 39% in States such as California and Florida. Hispanic patients are significantly more likely than White patients to report having visited an ED 3+ times in the last 6 months (25% Hispanic vs 19% White), and report not having a usual source of care (19% Hispanic vs 8% White).

That presents a dichotomy: On one hand one of the most advanced and also expensive health systems in the world. Health expenditures per person in the U.S. were $12,555 in 2022, which was over $4,000 more than any other high-income nation. The average amount spent on health per person in comparable countries ($6,651) is about half of what the U.S. spends per person. 

On the other hand, 73% of US adults feel their health care needs are not met.

We have already discussed one of the main factors on this issue: the lack of health literacy. Health literacy is defined as the ability of consumers to find, understand, and use available information and resources to make health care decisions. And only 51% of US adults have “Intermediate” health literacy, with only 12% qualifying as “Proficient”.

However, this is an addressable issue, as technology has made the creation and distribution of relevant content more effective than ever.

So, how can health systems help consumers find, understand, and use relevant health related information?

First, 90% of Americans have a smart phone and access to the internet. And websites as well as landing pages with the right information can be made easier to find with Search Engine Optimization or links to high traffic sites or through ads. Health systems can also, with the help of communication experts, index and organize relevant information on how to better use the system to make it easier to find.

When it comes to comprehension, content formats such as video and interactive infographics can make a difference. Moving images have the power of a thousand words and, in the case of Hispanic audiences, lower language barriers. Given the interactive nature of the content and the channels used to distribute it, this knowledge is available 24/7, so consumers can go through it in their own schedule, watch it as many times they need, with no one judging. This content can also contain links to request more details or find out about related topics.

In terms of usability, links within the content can guide consumers towards requesting forms and instructions as how to fill them or provide access to essential parts of the system. Links within webpages and landing pages can also guide consumers and facilitate access, allowing them to make appointments or request more information about where to go within the system to request care. 

As consumers gain ability to find, understand and use relevant information to make health related decisions, they will make better use of the system, which will naturally improve their perceptions about the system, resulting in a virtuous cycle of increased satisfaction, leading to more effective use of resources such as preventive care, which will improve outcomes and satisfaction.

For additional information on how to take advantage of communications advances to increase health literacy and improve health outcomes in specific audiences, click here.