Health and trust go hand in hand.
We trust that our doctors, pharmacists, nurses and allied health professionals give us access to the best care possible.
We trust that the system will support them in this endeavour.
We trust, and are hopeful, that a safe and efficacious vaccine for COVID-19 will be developed in the coming year. Thereby enabling us to go back to more freedoms than we currently enjoy.
But, information on the COVID-19 pandemic is relentless, bombarding consumers from all angles. In fact, it is difficult for many to know who to trust. The special Edelman Trust Barometer COVID-19 report noted that young adults, it seems, increasingly trust social media for information on COVID-19. This contrasts with older members of society who turn to major news outlets and other traditional sources.
In Australia, the daily presence of our former Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, provided the nation with a trustworthy source of information during the darker days of the pandemic in early 2020. Not surprisingly, Professor Murphy is in the running for Australian of the year in 2021. Most of this, I suggest, is down to Australians trusting his steady, calm approach to managing the pandemic – and the information he provided.
Trust is important.
How then, can organisations measure and build trust?
One theoretical framework is through the lens of Social license, a term that has existed for almost twenty years. In essence it refers to the process by which society grants acceptance to a particular organisation. The journey to trust spans three levels, in this order:
In this framework, at the highest level, trust occurs when people identify with your organisation and its core values. Any level below that provides, at best, approval or acceptance – not trust.
Remember, people and society want organisations to be trustworthy. Especially in health, at this time.
I believe that 2020 is a critical time for health and life science organisations to step up and build trust in the same way many individuals do – through a steady, calm approach and access to timely, accurate information.