5 Ways to Strengthen Patient Trust

October 19, 2023
Doctor with elderly patient holding a cane
Patient trust is essential to a patient/physician relationship, but that trust has eroded for some patients over the last couple years. “I think the biggest threat is loss of trust in physicians. Especially after the pandemic, people were receiving conflicting information and getting medical information from various sources,” according to David Farkas, MD, an emergency room physician in Park City, Utah, in an article in Becker’s ASC Review. “A general misunderstanding of medicine and science in general is very concerning.”
Clinics can make changes or create initiatives to strengthen trust. That trust can lead to improved outcomes because patients may be more inclined to follow their doctor’s advice and seek their care. 

A group purchasing organization (GPO) like Provista can help. For example, Provista offers purchased services and other solutions to support non-acute healthcare facilities looking to reestablish and maintain patient trust.
Here are five ways clinics can build trust, and how GPOs can help: 


Clinics can ask patients to provide feedback on their experiences with the facility, then use the first-hand information to build on strengths and improve weaknesses. Sometimes feedback can uncover surprising information, such as an issue with parking or scheduling.
Facilities can also learn what’s important to individual patients, such as if they place a premium on face-to-face time with their doctor, the amount of time spent in the waiting room before their appointment, how they’re treated by staff or something else. That’s why it’s important for clinics to encourage patients to share their concerns, ask questions and be honest in their feedback. Open communication is the foundation of trust between healthcare providers and patients.

How a GPO can help:

A GPO can help clinics conduct patient surveys to better understand patient sentiment. Patients are often direct and honest in their survey responses, which results in valuable and oftentimes actionable feedback.


Part of having open and effective communications is enabling patients to interact with the clinic using their preferred methods. Facilities that want patient input must make it easy for patients to interact through channels such as phone, website, email, apps and patient portals. 
Opening lines of communication is a good start to establishing trust. The second part is timely responses to questions, inquiries and comments, including those on social media. This requires dedicating time, resources and personnel to reply to patients.

How a GPO can help:

Facilities may lack the technology to seamlessly communicate with patients. GPOs have contracts with experts who can redesign or modernize a facility’s website to allow patients to submit questions or comments, or implement technologies such as easy-to-use apps that offer a modern way to communicate. 


“Patients are often direct and honest in their survey responses, which results in valuable and oftentimes actionable feedback.”


Healthcare providers, both physicians and clinicians, should spend quality time with patients and show empathy and concern for their issues. The more direct interaction providers have with patients and their families, the more opportunities there are to address their issues and strengthen trust.
One way to build rapport is for physicians to share the computer screen in exam rooms with patients. Patients can see their medical history, any notes from doctors and other information, giving them visibility into their own healthcare record. The information can prompt patients to ask questions and share details about their health and wellness, which fosters trust.

How a GPO can help:

A GPO’s contracts with technical experts can ensure the right systems are integrated into a facility. Clinics can then make appointment scheduling easy, share medical test results digitally and allow patients to see their electronic medical records, therefore improving patient relationships.


Patient education is critical to improving health and wellness outcomes. Education can inspire patient engagement, enabling them to become more active in their own care. “A growing body of evidence shows that people with higher patient activation (i.e., the knowledge, skills, and confidence to become actively engaged in their healthcare) have better health outcomes,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Educating patients in a way they can easily understand helps with health literacy, which is the degree to which individuals can understand and use information for health decisions. Clinics can share information with patients about their medical conditions, treatment options and preventative healthcare measures. The educational materials can be printed for handouts or links to online resources. 

How a GPO can help:

GPOs can help facilities create printed materials or make digital versions of information to share with patients. Many GPOs, including Provista, also offer translation services to help clinics better communicate and share information with patients in their preferred language. 


“Clinics can make changes or create initiatives to strengthen trust. That trust can lead to improved outcomes.”


If physicians are taking continuing education classes, or attending seminars or workshops, they should let patients know about it. Patients feel more confident in doctors’ abilities if they know the physicians stay up to date on the latest medical research. Instilling confidence is another step toward building patient trust.
Likewise, doctors who are learning about specific diseases or issues, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis, can share the information with patients. Patients and their family members will be interested in any new treatment options and feel more connected to their doctor. 

How a GPO can help:

Through their contracts with communications firms, GPOs can help facilities craft professional emails and other content to share with patients about physicians’ continuing education. The details can also be included on a clinic’s website and marketing materials.  


Building and sustaining patient trust requires an ongoing effort from physicians and their staff. Clinics can follow best practices to nurture trust such as:

  • Listening to patient needs and concerns
  • Making it easier for patients to share and communicate
  • Asking patients for direct and honest feedback
  • Building stronger patient rapport
  • Improving patient literacy
  • Sharing physicians’ educational background
Facilities do not need to tackle patient trust on their own. Their GPO offers non-acute healthcare expertise and purchased services to support clinics and help them build stronger patient relationships. 

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