Someone once said, “Trust is a fragile thing. Easy to break, easy to lose, and one of the hardest things to ever get back.” Trust is a particularly fragile thing when it comes to a person’s health care. Trust is influenced by a person’s expectations, past experiences, and current emotional status. But one thing is for sure—when a patient’s trust is eroded, it’s hard to win back. That’s why it’s so important for every person working in healthcare settings to understand how his or her words and actions contribute to patient trust.
In my keynotes and training sessions, I talk a lot about trust in relation to the patient experience. In fact, our mystery shopping services have expanded greatly over the past three years because more and more leaders are seeing the need to understand how the current patient experience influences trust and, ultimately, the likelihood of recommending. When we are summarizing our mystery shopping experiences for clients, we often show photos taken of their facilities and share stories of our experiences. In each opportunity, we indicate how the situation either contributed to the patient’s trust or eroded it.
Trust can be eroded with one encounter or over a series of situations. No two individuals gauge their situations exactly the same, so the “trust-breakers” can be anything from a dirty bathroom or unanswered light to incorrect treatments or rude behaviors. Regardless, it’s important for everyone to know that they are the keepers of the patient trust. Guard it with your life.