The Trust Gap — digital health

23 Jan 2018 |Written by Peter Nuckley

Our NHS Widening Digital Participation Programme is redefining what I mean when I say trust.

My Mum used to tell me that ‘trust is hard to earn and easy to lose.’ This was usually when I had done something wrong and invariably lost a significant degree of her trust. Sorry Mum.

In our Pathfinders we are finding out that whilst trust is equally important for everyone, who and what patients and professionals trust is a little more complicated.

We know what trust is but do we know what people trust?


Who and what you trust differs depending on your role within the health relationship

We speak to a lot of health professionals about adopting new digital means to provide a better service for patients. They, quite rightly, demand proof that the new thing has proven health benefits. The GPs that we talk to trust academic papers, medical trials and other scientifically robust mechanisms for adoption. Absolutely fair enough you would say.

What is the clinical evidence for this

However patients, that we are talking to, have just as strong feelings about trust but they manifest themselves in different ways. I spoke to a young mother last week who gained a lot of health advice from other parents at the school gates

They know, because it’s worked for them

Peers are so important for patients. They trust peers because ‘they know’ the situation that they are in. Peers aren’t ‘just reading it from a book’. The importance that is placed on peers is also (admittedly to a lesser degree) evident in the adoption of Apps. If friends are using something then patients are more likely to give it a go and furthermore, the more ‘likes’, ‘claps’ or any perceived positive review a health thing gets then patients are more likely to try it.

These two different avenues of trust lead to a gap in the patient/health professional relationship. This trust gap is an important thing to bridge as it can help both parties plan an effective path.

The Trust Gap


It’s difficult for patients to put their finger on why they trust someone or something.

You just sort of know [referring to websites they trust for health information]

This can make discussions between health practitioners and patients frustrating for both parties.

Assumption — Benefits of digital health have been recognised by both

Assumption — Peers go through the same things as us and therefore know what’s best

Assumption — the data collected in this particular App isn’t reliable


We are looking for national partners to help us close the trust gap

A way to bridge the Trust Gap

We are experimenting with ways that national partners like Age UK can fill this gap and give better health outcomes to patients.

Good Things Foundation and NHS Digital believe national partners are vital and here’s what we think it means to be a national partner on Widening Digital Participation

The NHS Widening Digital Participation programme is looking for national partners to help shape the way that the most excluded groups in society can benefit their health through digital.

Therefore, we would like to invite organisations to be national partners because;

  • You are a respected national voice who champions the most vulnerable
  • Your enthusiasm and expertise will help us make the right decisions
  • You can raise awareness of the programme and make sure the benefits reach those who most need it
  • You have the opportunity to try aspects of the programme across your network/portfolio

In return for being a national partner you will get;

  • Tested tools and resources to help your users/customers
  • Access to a network of experts in digital and social inclusion
  • Recognition of your valuable input in reports and association with NHS
  • Health sector access and influence

If you are interested or would like to talk further please get in touch pete@goodthingsfoundation

Thanks to Beatrice Karol Burks.