When Americans want information about COVID-19 and a potential vaccine, they are more likely to believe news from their local hospitals than federal agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a new study by The Harris Poll says. It recently asked more than 2,000 adults how trustworthy they believe different sources are when attempting to understand where they can get accurate information about developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

Of the individuals most trusted are local doctors and nurses. The Harris Poll found that almost nine of 10 respondents said their caregiver was the most trustworthy source of information.

Local hospitals are trusted on the COVID-19 vaccine, with 82% of Americans saying they were very or somewhat trustworthy sources. Only 73% of Americans said the CDC is trustworthy, and 72% reported the FDA as trustworthy. These numbers are better than drug companies that work on vaccines (71%).

Local hospitals were joined at the top by health systems like Mayo Clinic or Cleveland Clinic and scientists, with 84% of Americans indicating they saw both as trustworthy. Just 61% of Americans said their employers and health insurance companies were very trustworthy.

Most people (70%) surveyed said they also feel their friends or family as very or somewhat trustworthy when it came to vaccine information.

These numbers skyrocket over people's perception of politicians, for example. According to a separate Pew Research Center study, public trust in the government remains near historic lows, with only 17% of Americans saying they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right “just about always” (3%) or “most of the time” (14%).

Ironically, despite this trust in local caregivers and hospitals related to COVID-19 information dissemination, patients are still steering clear of the facilities. While patients find the most security in receiving COVID-19-related information from those they directly connect within their local communities, these facilities still are not back to the level of patients served as they were before the pandemic shuttered the economy.

These low patient volumes push some hospitals to rework their budgets, seeking new ways to generate revenue. While some areas of the economy are recovering, hospitals continue to face hurdles.

Inpatient volumes are still well below what they were last year, but outpatient volumes were only slightly below 2019 levels, he added.

“What we’ve seen since April is a slow recovery over time in particular with volumes and revenues,” Erik Swanson, vice president at consulting firm Kaufman Hall, told Fierce Healthcare. “We’re seeing a long slog in the recovery of volumes. Depending on the indicator we're looking at, they're 6% to 7% below where they were last year with [emergency room] visits down substantially more than that."

A recent report from consulting firm Crowe found that volumes nationally for emergency departments were down 22.7% in June compared with average weekly volumes for the year before March 15. The report examined patient transactions for nearly 1,500 hospitals. Crowe also found that outpatient services were down 7.2% in June and surgery volume dipped 8.4% the same month.

Hospitals are projecting revenue declines of between 5% and 10%. To survive, hospitals must cut costs and find new revenue streams. Some of the cost-cutting measures are obvious — furloughs and layoffs. Even with these steps, other expenses have risen in response to the pandemic, including expenses in personal protective equipment and drug costs.

Ultimately, health systems will need to seek new and inventive ways to make money. One such, albeit expensive, way is to launch their own insurance plan, like Kaiser Permanente.

Another strategy may be to capitalize on the trust their local patient has in them. Perhaps creating a subscription news or health information service, launching telehealth options, or alternative care models might defray costs long term.