Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
CEO Minute: Trust, A Core Value

CEO Minute: Trust, A Core Value

CEO Minute: Trust, A Core Value- image0Texas Tech Physicians of Lubbock serves hundreds of thousands of patients each year. At every encounter, we have an opportunity to build (or lose) trust—and trust is one of our core values. As we have been told most of our lives, and in some cases, sadly experienced, trust is fragile and it can easily be lost. We’ve all had the experience of a broken promise which resulted in a loss of trust. In our healthcare world, loss of trust is more than a case of mild dissatisfaction; it can have life-changing consequences. Or, it may appear to be minor, as when we have broken trust with someone and they start to believe that “they are never on time” at this practice. Ouch! But, is that really minor? No, it is not. Like the old song, much older than most of you reading this, “Little Things Mean a Lot.” Consistently doing the little things well (and big things, too) helps build trust.

Trust has been variously defined; but, the one I like is a belief by the truster that the trustee will act in the truster’s best interests. Read that again. We earn trust by technical competency and by demonstrating compassion—and by acting in others’ best interest. We earn trust by keeping our promises. Trust is a fundamentally important aspect of providing health care.

It is also a strong predictor of patient loyalty. A study by Thom and colleagues found that after six months, only 3 percent of patients in the highest trust quartile had left their physician, compared with 24 percent of patients in the lowest quartile. Other studies have reached the same conclusions. So, being a trustworthy person is good business.

Two weeks ago, I stepped onto a Southwest Airlines plane to travel to Austin on school business. When I stepped into that airplane, I trusted that the pilot and crew (and mechanics and air traffic controllers) all know what they are doing. I knew that I was very vulnerable at 35,000 feet in the air. I could not get safely to the ground without assistance. Patients are in much the same position when they come to us. They place themselves, and their well-being in our hands, so to speak, and they trust that we will do what is in their best interest. Let’s not let them down. And, let’s do those little things…like smiling and asking how their drive was in from Littlefield (or wherever) and show the compassion we would expect if the roles reserved.