7 ways hospitals can rebuild community trust

Any number of incidents can erode a community's trust in a hospital, from a nasty disease outbreak to a slow corrosion of the hospital-community relationship over time. But both types of lost trust can be repaired, according to an article in Becker's Hospital Review.

Hospital consultant Martie Moore, R.N., former chief nursing officer of Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, and current CNO of consulting firm Medline, makes several suggestions for rebuilding community trust, including:

  1. Be transparent and communicate to show hospital leaders take the situation seriously when incidents such as infectious-disease outbreaks occur
  2. Acknowledge mistakes and show strong support for staff while correcting those errors
  3. Share stories of the good work the hospital is doing
  4. Engage and partner with community groups to host events such as safety fairs and community walks/runs
  5. Encourage hospital leaders to blog to engage the community with health-oriented information
  6. Listen to what community members say in informal settings and be willing to respond
  7. Research community needs, such as access to dental care, and work to serve those needs

"Hospitals are kind of crazy bee hives, but if you can help your community view the hospital as a place of hope and love and care, instead of an institution and corporation, you'll start to gain that elevation of trust," Moore said in the article.

Trust affects a hospital's bottom line as well: up to 25 percent of a public company's value is based on reputation, which derives from how the organization interacts with employees, customers, suppliers and competitors, FierceHealthcare previously reported. That means the role of chief reputation officer is critical to a healthcare system, says consultant Paul Keckley of Navigant.

Strategies used to support patient engagement also may be able to rebuild community trust. Some accountable care organizations (ACOs) use health coaches to understand what's important to patients and patient advisers to learn how to better serve the community. ACOs that partner with a trusted church community, for example, have a leg up in building their own trust with the community, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

For more information:
- read the Becker's article