I’m taking some time during a quiet week at work for my EUPATI studies, a on-line training program for patient and family advocates about medicines research and development.
This mornings’s lesson is pharmacovigilance — the complex science of preventing adverse effects toward medication. An important topic about which I know little, but from which we all benefit.
Most of the course content is difficult to understand. I hung on by the skin of my teeth, clicking through screens filled with unfamiliar jargon, acronyms, regulations and concepts, wondering whether I’ll pass the impending assessment.
Every now and then I wondered how this knowledge will lead to better health and healthcare. How will learning about regulatory authorities and risk assessments help me make a difference? What is the point of this?
On the page about public hearings, I was offered a possible answer: because it builds trust.
It’s true. Even if I don’t remember any of the details of these complex process that exist to ensure the safety of medicines, simply becoming aware that they exist has increased my trust in medicine. In the people working in these processes. And even my trust in the healthcare system.
We talk about patient education and partnership as an enabler of better outcomes, of innovation and democracy. Yet we rarely mention it as enabler of trust.
Maybe we should, since it feels as though trust is in short supply these days. I suspect that by increasing trust, we increase our willingness to listen , our willingness to take advice and even our willingness to continue to pay taxes to support these systems. Maybe it’s possible to achieve good outcomes, rich innovation and a thriving democracy without trust, but I doubt it.
Along with striving to improve things like quality and safety in our organizations, our systems and our society, what would it look if we aimed to improve trust and trustworthiness?