Improving Patient Outcomes Starts With Patient Trust in Health Care, Pharmacists

Panelists at AXS23 conference agree that the patient’s voice is the most critical, whether it is related to drug manufacturing, delivery, or marketing.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, mistrust of the health care industry was in the forefront because of misinformation related to vaccines, as well as vaccine hesitancy.

Credit: Prostock-studio -

Credit: Prostock-studio -

However, that mistrust long preceded that, for instance, among many Black individuals, related to longstanding structural racism and disparities in treatment and outcomes, Maimah Karmo, CEO and president of the Tigerlily Foundation, a national breast cancer organization, said during a presentation titled “Trust v. Healthcare: How Empathy is the Missing Link in Drug Development, Marketing, and Delivery,” at the AXS23 Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Everything that we do is for the patient,” said Elizabeth Johnson, CEO of MedicoCX, a network of allergists. “We have unique opportunities, as manufacturers, as industry providers, as third-party solutions, all the way down to payment models, to be able to really tap into our patients and to repurpose our dollars in better ways of marketing and better ways of delivery and acknowledgement of our patients.”

The panelists agreed that the patient’s voice is the most important, whether it is related to drug manufacturing, delivery, or marketing.

Listening to patients is key to building trust, according to Mike Porath, CEO and founder of The Mighty, a health care community.

“If you’re going to build trust, it really does need to start with authenticity and empathy and as much listening to what you are going through,” he said.

Everyone in an organization should be building this trust, not just the patient engagement team, he said.

It is important to collaborate and communicate with patients, Johnson said.

“If patients aren’t in the industry, they don’t know insurance like we do,” she said in the presentation. “We spend millions of dollars reading material to explain to patients how the system works.”

Health care professionals should not just redirect patients to material but sit down, listen, and work with them, Johnson said.

For pharmacists, it all starts with awareness, she said.

Going to conferences and networking events can help pharmacists meet like-minded individuals, Johnson said, adding that relationships with patient advocacy groups can also be beneficial.

In addition, pharmacists should keep in mind that each condition and patient are different, and in some cases, caregivers’ voices are also needed, though they are not always considered, Porath said.

“That trust begins with every single part of the health care system and begins with relationships, not a sale’s pitch or an ad,” Karmo said.


Johnson E, Karmo M, Porath M, Zachary H. Trust v. healthcare: how empathy is the missing link in drug development, marketing, and delivery. Presented at: AXS23 Conference. Las Vegas NV. May 1, 2023.

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