The pandemic is a pivotal moment for healthcare companies, with recently released data – part of Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer Spring Update: Trust and the Covid-19 Pandemic – revealing two particularly fascinating insights.

One is that trust in healthcare is at an all-time high right now and attitudes towards innovation in healthcare and the use of health data have improved significantly. The other is that there is a clear gap in people’s understanding of new health technologies, but the more people know about them, the more they trust them.

Rising trust in healthcare and data-sharing

The recent 11-market study looked at how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people’s trust in the healthcare sector and found that from January to May 2020, trust in healthcare increased by eight points, making it the most trusted sector of all those asked about – by a record 76% of people globally. This is the single largest trust increase we have seen in healthcare since its inclusion in the Trust Barometer study.

There have been notable increases in 10 out of 11 markets studied – with the largest increases in the U.S., Canada and Germany. These are key markets for many healthcare companies, and also those that tend to be on the lower end of trust in health.

Not only has healthcare as a whole seen a big improvement in trust, but its sub-sectors have as well. Most notable is pharma’s leap ahead of biotech, now moving to the second-most trusted sub-sector, while hospitals consistently remain the most trusted sub-sector.

Meanwhile, privacy concerns around personal data have previously been a hinderance to trust in healthcare technology, but the data reveals that, on average, 61% of respondents are willing to share their personal health data to help track and contain the spread of COVID-19 - an interesting pivot.

All eyes are on healthcare to provide solutions during this unprecedented public health crisis, and along with this increased level of trust no doubt comes increased expectations of how companies will behave, both now and in the future.

However, trust booms are often followed by trust busts, so this is an important moment in time for healthcare companies to safeguard higher public trust for the long-term. To maintain it, companies must not only deliver on the public’s urgent needs – they must also demonstrate – and effectively communicate – their commitment to society more broadly.

Educating people on innovations in healthcare increases trust

Healthcare innovation is trusted by 61% of people globally – with 1 in 2 respondents believing that innovation is going to have a positive impact on our lives, including our health and wellbeing (58%) and our personal safety (54%).

More than three quarters of people surveyed admitted to knowing very little about new healthcare innovations like personalised medicines and gene mapping, but the study also found that the more people informed people were, the more convinced they became about the positive impact.

If the many innovative HealthTech companies we see entering the market right now can capitalise on the momentum evident in this data by communicating more effectively with the public and their key stakeholders– at a time when they are most receptive to new ideas and gathering information – this could provide a huge boost in terms of both awareness and demand.

By demonstrating their ability to deliver on the public’s urgent needs, while at the same time educating people on new ways to manage their health, these companies are poised for far greater engagement and cut through. Innovation is at the center of pandemic solutions and health companies’ stories of both scientific and technological advancements will be key to maintaining trust now and in the “new normal.”

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