Patients place tremendous trust in their healthcare providers for safe and effective care. However, patients also increasingly need more confidence about how their highly personal/sensitive medical information is collected and stored. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Cybersecurity Outlook report, increased cybercrimes have caused reticence in patients. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) also cites a growing concern over online privacy and data collection. Kevin Benner, PhD, National Healthcare Solution Leader at Sogeti, notes that even simply visiting a website often comes with patients having to face “accept cookies” prompts, which they likely have neither the time nor the ability to fully understand.

As a result, Dr. Benner finds that physicians frequently deal with wary and aggravated patients who, despite the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), experience growing concern over sharing medical data with providers. This is particularly problematic for healthcare providers, as they cannot properly function without the necessary patient data for operational strategies and digital transformation plans. As such, physicians must obtain more quality data by creating a trusting relationship with their patients.

Dr. Benner suggests implementing “trust-centric patient engagement” strategies and reworking consent and security tactics. Actions like improving physician communication with patients and honoring informed consent and the details of how collected data will be shared can also improve trust. He suggests reconfiguring privacy and consent structures to consider current laws and regulations. Other helpful tactics include streamlining web design and ensuring data management frameworks implement patient data consent choices.

According to Dr. Benner, a great way to begin building a trusting physician-patient relationship is assuring patients that physicians, like patients, desire to work in an effective and efficient environment with the goal of optimal patient wellness. The American Pharmacists Association notes that healthcare professionals refer to this desire, more specifically, as the “quadruple aim,” which includes the following goals: better health outcomes, higher-level patient experiences, lower costs, and strengthened clinician experience.

Ultimately, Dr. Benner stresses that patients must feel fulfilled and satisfied when dealing with physicians. As such, transparency on all issues involved in visitation and treatment is a major factor in ensuring positive online and in-person experiences.

When a trusting foundation is in place to support physician-patient relationships, patients will feel more at ease providing the information necessary to create a complete data profile. According to Dr. Benner, this will improve collaboration amongst extended care teams, ultimately resulting in better care. A more complete patient data profile also allows physicians to better advise patients. Physicians can gain their patients’ trust by simplifying consent and privacy policies and increasing transparency in data-sharing policies.

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Physician’s Weekly | December 26, 2023