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Why health care organizations need to build trust to drive digital transformation

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Article

Payers and providers must build trust among their patient bases to gain access to more quality data. But trust isn’t built overnight.

Every time you visit a website, you’re confronted with the same prompt: “Accept all cookies or manage preferences.” Oftentimes, consumers feel obliged to blindly permit access to their data as they simply don’t have the time or means to understand their options. For those who are willing to go the extra mile and confirm their preferences, they’re met with complex language and dozens of questions, and they arguably still leave the site not completely understanding what is being done with their information. Beyond consumers’ cookie conundrum, rising cybercrimes and disparate privacy legislation have also weakened the public’s trust in recent years.

Organizations must now contend with an increasingly wary and frustrated public, but this digital distrust is arguably most prevalent in the health care sector. Despite being protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), patients are still very concerned about sharing personal medical data with payers and providers alike. Patients are also concerned about sharing their personal data with noncovered entities such as personal health and fitness technology companies that are not protected under HIPPA. Thus, further confusing and concerning patients on what privacy protections they can really expect.

This presents a complex challenge for insurance and health care providers as their patients’ data is foundational to their operational strategies and digital transformation plans. Whether it’s creating a personalized care plan or pharmaceutical research in the metaverse, organizations throughout the broader health care sector require patient data to improve business insights and enable advanced solutions.

Therefore, it stands to reason that payers and providers must build trust among their patient bases to gain access to more quality data. However, trust cannot be gained overnight. Organizations must introduce new trust-centric patient engagement tactics and adjust their consent and security strategies accordingly.

What is the foundation of patient trust?

Payers and providers should first consider the foundational elements of trust before restructuring their patient engagement and security strategies. A good place to start is showing that patients’ and health care organizations’ all have the same end goal—a more effective and efficient health care system which helps patients live their healthiest life. Within the industry this has been formalized as the “Quadruple Aim” — advanced patient experience, improved health outcomes, reduced costs, and enhanced clinician experience. To achieve these objectives, patients must trust these organizations with their sensitive information.

Trust is a two-way street. If patients are sharing their data, they need to get back information and services commiserate with what they are providing.Transparency on provider quality, health outcomes, and costs are all important to patients.

Payers and providers must recognize that trust is also essential in their stakeholder ecosystem. Before patients can trust these organizations with their personal information, health care enterprises must establish data-sharing processes and protocols across their networks. This entails aligning data privacy and patient consent management standards and collectively improving patients’ online and physical experience.

How do organizations build trust?

Once payers and providers establish a guiding basis of trust among patients and partners, they must introduce new tactics to transform their patient engagement and security practices, including:

  • Improving patient communications with an emphasis on informed consent, detailing the granularity of collected data, potential data use cases, and scope of data sharing
  • Redesigning privacy and consent frameworks to fulfill their end of the bargain and live up to the consent agreements they gather from patients, fully implementing current laws and regulations, and addressing any gaps
  • Enhancing web design to not overwhelm patients with long, complex consent forms, but to instead just ask for the consent needed for the value the patient is looking for in the moment
  • Building data management frameworks and governance processes that enforce patients’ data consent decisions across the health care ecosystem

What are the benefits?

Improving patient trust is a virtuous cycle. Increasing trusts results in broader sharing of health care data which is then used to improve experience and health outcomes. Specific benefits from more complete patient data include:

  • Enabling extended care teams to collaborate more effectively and deliver better care
  • Building patient trust and improving relationships with the extended care team such that patients are more likely to change behaviors and follow care plans toward better health outcomes
  • Guiding patients (based on their preferences and data driven personalization) in navigating today’s rapidly changing health care system, understanding and following treatment pathways and accessing care across all available channels

As the adage goes — trust is hard to gain and easy to lose. Right now, most health care payers and providers struggle to gain patient trust. Their consent and privacy policies are too complex, their data sharing tactics are unclear or perhaps unestablished altogether, and that’s just to name a few barriers.

The broader health care sector is revolutionizing its digital capabilities, but without patient data, payers and providers will struggle to truly modernize their operations. Patients will only share their data when enterprises clearly communicate their data policies and practices and prove their cybersecurity prowess.

Kevin Benner, Ph.D., is the National Healthcare Solution Leader at Sogeti, a Capgemini company. He operates at the intersection of health care and technology, partnering with business leaders to translate strategy into reality by designing and implementing products, processes, and organizational solutions. Before joining Sogeti, Kevin worked in several large, mid-sized, and start-up companies where he held IT positions in strategy, program management, enterprise architecture, development, operations, and cybersecurity.

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