Earning Trust and Inspiring Action

I work to get to the root of the problem and tackle them directly instead of just treating symptoms.
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What is the common value locals in Memphis, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Phoenix share? Their desire for good health. Yet, access and quality of healthcare differs by family and options become a privilege driven by cost, which is America’s reported top concern in healthcare right now according to Mintel’s 2018 Consumer Trends webinar. Through eXploring, we learned another subconscious concern brewing: trust.

Access as a privilege was evident when we met with Dom at the Applied Neuroscience center in Peoria, AZ, an alternative medicine clinic that mostly treats affluent patients. Dom works to help patients with learning or anxiety disorders by strengthening certain parts of their brain using medical tech devices to help them live a better life. He stated, “I work to get to the root of the problem and tackle them directly instead of just treating symptoms.”

This treatment requires trust. Dom elaborated on the lack of patience and skepticism in the treatment process. “Kids with learning disorders can be difficult because they don’t have foundations…we end up giving them the foundation, but it’s not always clear. Parents get frustrated that their dyslexic child can’t immediately read…2-6 years later, the child who previously had reading level 3 grades behind has caught up with our help, but parents do not always attribute this to us.”

This treatment also requires money as insurance does not cover it. Dom revealed the bias in insurance offerings, “30-40% of insurance companies are related to pharma companies” and explained how the approval process for new drugs is easier than for new medical devices, “…approvers always find a reason to go against it.” From another perspective, it appears that alternative medicine clinics are strategically focusing on how to stay competitive versus offer the best-in-class treatment. Dom noted, “there are many alternative medicine clinics that try to be niche to stand out from the rest.”

Trust is very important and relevant regardless of the type of healthcare or income of the patient, but knowing existing options and having a choice is a privilege that is dependent on a patient’s income. The lower a person’s income, the more control insurance companies or the government has on the consumers’ healthcare options. Evidently, people are growing skeptical about the U.S. medical industry, to the point where Google searches for “self-care” are reaching a five-year high following the U.S. election (Mintel 2018 Consumer Trends).

That weekend we also spoke to Gisela, who works in Child Protective Services in Tucson and the conversation about her work experiences quickly led to a similar one we had with Dom: how the reliance of the U.S. medical industry on pharmaceuticals has contributed to opioid problem not only in Arizona, but on a national-scale, affecting societies’ health, social, and economic welfare. As a matter of fact, according to NPR, “nearly one-third of people who used drugs for the first time began by using a prescription drug.”

Gisela says “…while a patient has to speak up to the doctor about addiction, not many do, so the doctor has to be more careful before prescribing.” Gisela takes children away from their families in abusive, neglecting and/or dangerous environments and brings them to a safer one, but sometimes the damage has already been done. Gisela elaborated more on the lack of choice of the future generation in this respect. “It angers me when I see expecting mothers taking drugs and the baby is born addicted…that was your choice, not the baby’s.” In addition, the children Gisela helps are born into high-risk environments for drug addiction including aggressive behavior at childhood, lack of parental supervision, or genetics from addict parents. The chances of the addiction cycle continuing is increased, especially considering the bias in the medical industry and limited options in healthcare for those with low HHI. When asked how she finds out when a child needs help, “…someone has to report it to us,” meaning what happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors.

The few brands that opened those closed doors have made an impact. Consider Truth’s #StopProfiling anti-tobacco spot that opened the closed door on the tobacco industry, which targeted high-risk, low-income communities to increase sales. This spoke directly to what gets Americans’ blood boiling. Now is a time in America where people are speaking especially loud about inequality and injustices (consider the Women’s March, one of the largest single-day marches recorded in U.S. history). Additionally, according to Iconoculture’s Top Trends 2018, one strong emerging value is related to equality, inclusion, justice, and populism of the everyday man. The #StopProfiling PSA was powerful because it not only stood out, but revealed the unjust inner workings of an industry that smokers are supporting, contradicting the smokers’ values. This is powerful as consumers are against supporting a brand that does not align with their beliefs.

Dominos also opened the closed doors as well, but on itself in 2009 by essentially stating “our pizza tastes like cardboard” and promising to improve their product. This led to a sales boost, but not necessarily because the product was improved, but because the brand stood for something in a candid and transparent way at the expense of themselves, ultimately earning consumers’ trust.

So this begs the question, how else can brands open the closed doors by telling a new, refreshingly honest story to improve trust and inspire change—especially within the healthcare industry when trust is needed now more than ever?

Lana Meyer