Harris Poll: Only nine percent of U.S. consumers believe pharma and biotechnology put patients over profits; only 16 percent believe health insurers do.
Only nine percent of U.S. consumers believe pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies put patients over profits, while only 16 percent believe health insurance companies do, according to a Harris Poll® study released today. Meanwhile, 36 percent of U.S. adults believe health care providers (such as doctors and nurses) put patients over profits, compared to hospitals (23%).
“We are in the midst of a health care maelstrom,” said Wendy Salomon, vice president of reputation management and public affairs at Nielsen. “Consumers see no safe port, no place where their interests are truly protected-and that lack of consumer trust is reflected in the reputational risk we see across the U.S. health care landscape.”
Additionally, the Harris Poll of more than 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18+ indicates that while most are neutral toward health care industries, more consumers rate health insurance (24%) and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies (20%) with low reputations, compared to hospitals (6%), health care providers (doctors and nurses) (5%) and technology (2%). Fifty-eight percent rate the reputation of the technology industry as high, compared to health care providers (43%), hospitals (37%), pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies (20%), and health insurance companies (15%).
“There are undeniable reputational risks for pharmaceutical and health insurance companies – more so than other parts of the health care ecosystem,” said Salomon. “Reputation matters to patients, care providers, investors, employees, and potential hires. Positive reputations can pave the way in times of crisis, in times of transition – and when it’s critical to have a seat at the policy-setting table.”
Consumer Skepticism High Across Health Care – But to Varying Degrees
According to the Harris Poll Reputation Equity and Risk Across the Health Care Sector report, all health care stakeholders – hospitals, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, providers and store pharmacists – suffer from consumer skepticism, but some experience it to a greater degree.
Nearly half of consumers say they think store pharmacists (49%) and health care providers (48%) offer high quality products and services, compared to hospitals (44%), pharmaceutical companies (31%), and health insurance companies (26%). Roughly half of consumers believe providers (51%) and hospitals (49%) make a positive difference in the country, compared to store pharmacists (39%), health insurance companies (26%) and pharmaceuticals (26%).
“There’s a lot health care can improve, but we tend to paint the entire industry with a broad brush,” said Salomon. “The EpiPen controversy, Affordable Care Act challenges, the fall of Theranos, and the basic hassles inherent in navigating one’s health care needs – all of these contribute to consumers’ perceptions of the reputation of the health care system overall, but we need to remember that health care players are not viewed equally. While at times the pharmaceutical industry seems an easy target for criticism, it is stunning to see the little credit it receives for making a positive difference. There are real opportunities for companies across the health care landscape to proactively share their stories and engage in reducing reputational risk.”
Consumers See Providers, Patients Solving Health Care Challenges
When asked where solutions to the health care industry’s challenges will come from, more than half of U.S consumers (55%) say health care providers, such as doctors or nurses. Nearly half (47%) see patients and consumers solving health care challenges, while 38 percent cite the government. Other responses include health insurance companies (34%), pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies (32%), hospitals (31%), academics, non-profits or think tanks (29%), technology companies (25%), and retail pharmacies (7%).
“Consumers believe they are a critical part of finding solutions to today’s health care problems, and as health care stakeholders look to involve consumers differently, it’s important that their input is being heard,” said Salomon. “Our research makes it quite clear that the marketplace is not optimistic about the private sector’s role in making things better. It will be important for companies to credibly engage in problem-solving.”
Ethics Deemed Important Trait to Solve Health Care Challenges
The Harris Poll study finds that in order to be a part of the solution in addressing U.S. health care needs, consumers believe it is most important for organizations to demonstrate ethics (62% say very important) and quality (57%). Other critical factors include efficiency (51%), a long-term view versus a short-term gain (49%), collaboration (47%), flexibility (47%), and transparency (47%).
“As health care stakeholders explore new ventures that require permission to play in new arenas, it is important for them to understand the lens through which their reputation is evaluated,” said Salomon. “Right now, the marketplace seeks confirmation of ethical behavior before permission is granted, and it’s noteworthy that transparency and working collaboratively are also very important.
“Proactive reputation management continues to be key to unlocking business value, and as we look ahead it is plainly written that companies will need to refresh their old playbooks and engage in new ways.”
Looking Ahead: Beyond Doctors’ Offices
The Harris Poll study finds that when it comes to confidence in care sites, millennials (27%) are more confident in pharmacy-based clinics, compared to Generation X (14%) and baby boomers (14%). Overall, one-third of consumers say they trust pharmacies as a point of care.
“As business models are squeezed and companies look to broaden their portfolios, industries are increasingly playing new roles in our dynamic health care environment,” said Salomon. “Whether it’s meeting consumers’ needs for extended hours and convenient locations through retail pharmacy clinics, or technology companies working with patients to help manage chronic disease, these evolving ways of delivering care have the potential for disruption. Millennials’ receptivity to non-traditional alternatives can be seen as one proof point that there will be more disruption ahead.”
(Source: PR Newswire)