Digital Patient Experience Tips: Building Trust with Patients

Andrew Kucheriavy

Digital Patient Experience Tips: Building Trust with Patients

As part of our commitment to digital patient centricity, every month we are publishing suggestions that can lead to a remarkable improvement in digital patient experience.

Each monthly series of tips is based on the themes of the Digital Experience Scale for Patients (DES/P), a framework tailored to quantify and assess patient experience, whether that of websites, apps, or portals. 

Our comprehensive interviews and user testing, conducted with a wide variety of patients, have helped us pinpoint three fundamental themes crucial for providing a patient-focused user experience (UX) in healthcare: Value, Simplicity, and Connectivity. Over the course of this year, we are dedicated to sharing tips that correspond to the 12 criteria organized within these three pivotal categories. 

Intechnic's Chief Experience Officer Andrew Kucheriavy speaks about establishing trust and credibility with UX

Building Trust in Healthcare via Digital Patient Experience

It is essential that patients trust the healthcare organization and provider. Trust creates a feeling of solidarity that is critical for patients to accept and embrace receiving the care they seek. Patients are also consumers with an increasingly high standard for their digital experiences and often healthcare experiences feel decades behind what we see in other industries.

Consumers today expect more from their digital user experience than just an online appointment scheduling systems or basic information they can get elsewhere. They expect digital medical services and added value where they have a smooth interactions and where they are treated with empathy and respect.

A trusting relationship between the patients and the healthcare provider, whether an individual doctor, a clinic, or a larger health system, benefits everyone involved. When patients believe that the provider has their best interests at heart, it leads to more open communication, better adherence to medical advice, improved health outcomes, and better overall patient experience.

Yet, there's a troubling trend: trust is wearing thin. As conversations about health, policy, science, and health information grow more divided, the solid foundation of trust in healthcare is at risk. 


Common Pain Points and Sources of Mistrust for Patients

The saying holds true — trust is hard to gain and easy to lose. Currently, many health care organizations and providers find it difficult to earn the trust of their patients, especially when it comes to digital UX. Here are some of the main concerns that patients have when it comes to trust in the healthcare system, whether the patient experience is digital or face-to-face. 

Is my personal health information (PHI) safe?

Patient confidence in how digital health platforms manage their personal health information is currently low, with only one in five expressing high confidence that their data is handled in a way that's both responsible and beneficial to them.1 Ensuring that patients are well-informed, consenting, and confident that their data is used with their best interests at heart is key to building trust.

The primary concern for patients regarding their PHI is the intended use of that data. It's imperative for insurers, healthcare providers, and digital health services to clearly communicate the objectives behind the use of data. These objectives might involve enhancing current services, offering discounts, using data for research to improve health outcomes, or engaging patients further to support other areas of their health.

Do the healthcare providers have my best interest at heart?

Patients frequently harbor doubts about whether healthcare and pharmaceutical companies truly prioritize their well-being. A prevalent concern is that profit motives in patient care might overshadow the commitment to patient health, leading to skepticism about the intentions behind treatment recommendations and drug prescriptions. Such skepticism can create a disconnect between patients and those tasked with their care, potentially affecting treatment adherence and patient outcomes.

To bridge this trust gap, it is essential for health care and pharma companies to demonstrate a patient-first approach transparently and create a better patient UX in the process. This means engaging in open dialogue about treatment options, providing clear evidence of the benefits and risks, and actively involving patients in decisions about their health journey. When companies show consistent dedication to the patient's health, rather than their bottom line, patient confidence can begin to rebuild, fostering a more collaborative and effective health care environment.

Is the medical information accurate?

Patients often approach medical information with caution, and their trust has been further shaken by a broader decline in confidence in healthcare professionals, health systems, and in science overall. The abundance of conflicting information, especially from unofficial or unverified sources, can make it challenging for patients to identify what is accurate. This uncertainty is magnified by the rise of sensationalized health news and the rapid spread of misinformation on social media. To counteract this, medical professionals and health care organizations need to actively engage in providing clear, evidence-backed, and consistent information that can be easily understood by the general public.

The erosion of trust in science complicates how patients view medical advice and information. Many find themselves at a crossroads, struggling to decide what to believe amidst a plethora of voices and opinions. This underscores the need for a concerted effort from the scientific and medical communities to rebuild trust. To educate the public, it is important to acknowledge uncertainties, provide comprehensive information, and use language that is easy to understand and relatable.  

Digital Patient Experience Tips for Improving Patient Trust

Patients tend to trust a program or service if they see how other patients benefited from it and can understand the language used to describe the offer. Additionally, providing complete transparency about the purpose of each step and clear explanations on data usage is crucial in addressing any concerns about privacy during the digital patient journey. 

  1. Provide evidence and social proof to back up any self-proclaimed statements.

    When making claims about health care services or products, it's crucial to back them up with evidence. Social proof is a critical part of building trust via digital interactions, and digital patient experience is no exception. This could include patient testimonials, case studies, or data from credible studies.

    For example, if a health care app claims to reduce patient wait times, include statistics or quotes from real users who've experienced these benefits. This approach not only validates the claim but also leverages the power of social proof, where potential patients feel more confident in their decision when they see others have had positive experiences. 

  2. Where possible, feature “unbiased” figures, factoids, or metrics as a way of telling the story “in numbers.” .

    Utilize objective data and metrics to support your narrative. For instance, if a referral management platform boasts about its efficiency, showcase metrics like average call response time, patient satisfaction scores, or the percentage of issues resolved in the first call. Presenting these figures helps paint a clear picture of the service's effectiveness and builds trust through transparency.

  3. Be transparent and clearly explain what patients can expect from their experience.

    Be upfront about what patient experience will entail and what they can expect. This includes detailed explanations of processes, what types of services are offered, and any potential costs or risks involved. For example, if your service includes virtual consultations, explain how these are conducted, what technology is required, and how privacy is maintained. Clarity in these areas helps manage patient expectations and fosters trust. 

  4. Provide guidance with tooltips, FAQs, and live support to give the patients confidence and trust that they can get help if they need it.

    These tools can be indispensable for a positive patient UX as they can guide patients through the website or app, answer common queries, and provide immediate assistance. For instance, a tooltip might explain medical terms, while live support can assist with technical issues or specific health concerns. This level of support provides patient-centered care and shows users that their needs and concerns are anticipated and addressed, boosting their confidence in the service. 

  5. When asking for personal information, explain why it is needed and how it will be used.

    If a patient is asked to share their medical history, explain that this information is essential for providing personalized care and will be kept confidential. This transparency not only complies with privacy laws but also reassures patients that their sensitive information is handled with care and respect. Transparently promotes trust, and if users are willing to share their data, this information can be in turn used to improve digital patient experience.  

  6. Use language that is jargon-free and accessible to facilitate understanding and trust. 

Using easy-to-understand language can make it easier for patients to grasp their health condition and the help available to them. This way, people can feel more confident and in control of their health care. Patient-friendly and accessible language is especially important when it comes to digital patient experience, as people cannot ask for a clarification as they could in a personal interaction. Using kind and understanding words also helps to earn patients' trust and demonstrates that the support program is there to help them. 

Trust is critical in any service sector, and in health care it is especially pivotal as it can lead to better health and enduring results. Health tech seems to advance at warp speed with artificial intelligence, wearable devices, and other new tools popping up every day. Yet, without a critical component of trust, future digital transformation will not benefit the patients as much as they could.  
Fostering trust in digital health demands clear communication, opportunities for feedback, and personal support to assist patients in navigating their health journey. When a person trusts a digital platform, they gain access to tools that encourage active participation in their health and link them to care that resonates on a personal level – a true testament to trust.  

Crafting outstanding UX centered around the patient needs creates an opportunity to transform how patients and caregivers interact with digital health care resources. Offering the necessary empathy and guidance creates a positive digital patient experience. It helps patients traverse the intricate health care landscape, improves patient satisfaction, fosters trust, facilitates access to critical medications, and has the potential to save lives. 


Also see:


1. Medisafe. How Digital Health Can Improve Patient Trust.

White Paper: Correlating the Digital Experience Scale for Patients with Industry Standards

White Paper: Correlating the Digital Experience Scale for Patients with Industry Standards   

White Paper: Mapping Digital Patient Experience Preferences and Expectations

White Paper: Mapping Digital Patient Experience Preferences and Expectations   

Digital Patient Experience: Tips for Providing Empathetic Patient UX

Digital Patient Experience: Tips for Providing Empathetic Patient UX   

UX Tips: Providing Value to Patients to Improve User Experience

UX Tips: Providing Value to Patients to Improve User Experience