Few consumers trust health plans, health systems, and the pharmaceutical industry. That’s according to the 2016 Harris Poll Reputation Equity and Risk Across the Health Care Sector report based on a June 2016 poll of 1,018 U.S. adults. Here’s a look at five of the key findings.
1. Consumers believe companies value profits over patients.
Only 9% of U.S. consumers believe pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies put patients over profits, while only 16% believe health insurance companies do. Meanwhile, 36% of U.S. adults believe healthcare providers (such as doctors and nurses) put patients over profits, compared to hospitals (23%).
Wendy Salomon, vice president, Reputation Management and Public Affairs at Nielsen, believes that the poll’s results reflect widespread concerns among consumers that companies prioritize finances over patient care. “This is particularly the case for pharma and health insurance, but in reality the public doesn’t really see any traditional players strongly advocating for their needs—including the care community itself.”
Michael Colarusso, managing director, NFP, an insurance brokerage and consulting firm, didn’t find the results surprising, as both the pharma and health insurance industries continue to struggle with a lack of transparency around costs and services. For example, when drug manufacturers increase costs they usually don’t share reasons, which then leads to consumers assuming the increase is unwarranted. Compounding the issue, companies continue to publicize rising profits while consumers struggle to find ways to pay for these services as healthcare plans shift more of the burden to the end-user, he says.
2. Hospitals and providers have better reputations than pharma.
The poll also revealed that while most consumers are neutral toward healthcare industries, more consumers rate health insurance (24%) and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies (20%) with low reputations, compared to hospitals (6%), healthcare providers (doctors and nurses) (5%).
Gil Bashe, APR, managing partner, Global Health, Finn Partners, notes that health professionals and the institutions that house them have a personal connection to patients. In comparison, although they are the gatekeepers of care, payers and biopharma companies are faceless.
“Patients have little transparency into how health insurance plan formularies are created and even less exposure to how medicines are priced,” he says. “High mystery leads to low reputation; payers and pharma companies should take heed of ever-dropping reputation statistics.”